# Interpretation of Procession by Nightwish It makes more sense if you’ve read The Extended Phenotype by Richard Dawkins, which Dawkins considers to be his greatest work. “Procession" Evolution "A cradle Earth, horizons unseen New world in thirst, for the arcane We are, singers of the gone We remember, as along came life” Genes (DNA) are the signers. Genes “remember” past life in which they survived selection pressure. Genes “sing" life into being by expressing aspects of past “gone" species, which then evolution bends to new purposes. As an example, “all vertebrate embyos develop for a short time small [gill-like] structures [which then develop] into a variety of different structures by the time we're born.” There are two major themes from Dawkins work here: Genes are potentially immortal replicators, unlike individuals. Genes are always we because they express in a context of other genes. "A cradle Earth, horizons unseen Birth of one, and a zillion sideshows We are, we were and we will not be We remember, as along came acorn” Sideshows is all life that was selected against. I think "and will not be" also references selection pressure. It could reference generic possibilities never taken, for which Tuomas does quote Dawkins in GSoE on EFMB, but I think not here. Acorn might multi-cellular life or something about reproduction, maybe even sexual reproduction. "Another birth, another moss green New world in thirst, for the unseen An empty zoo, a starlight vigil Will have a visit, as along came heartbeat” Evolution of vertebrates and the circulatory system. Animal that visit more places. "Another birth, another monster Endless forms, towards the stronger Menagerie, of a new world order We held our breath, as along came suffering" There is much live that evolves as monsters to better exploits other life. Animals are a new world order that exploited plant life. Nature is red in tooth and claw. "We remember, father Pikaia Gave the way, as along came Sapien The cradle Earth, welcoming its newborn Aeons since that very first acorn" Evolution of vertebrates (before pikaia), brains (after pikaia), and then humans. Together now, in this timeless parade The living lie, dead afraid Then they saw the moon, and found caring We remember, as along came writing Actually altruism and caring predates humans, but only humans reflect upon and appreciate the moon and their own emotions.. ad write about them. I suppose “The living lie, dead afraid” might cover our inventing fairy tails and religion. "Such worlds were there, zoos dead again After all, we should've never appeared Spaceship Earth, through the fields of time They understood, as along came wisdom" We did not evolve intelligence because of tool use like many people imagine, many animals use tools but do not expand this behavior much. Human intelligence is a fluke of sexual selection, like a peacock’s tail. It distracts and debilitates use relative to apes.. in the very short term. There is much mating behavior that weakens individuals, and thus “should've never appeared”. We evolved intelligence because we started mating based on art and music.. and tool use came later. Art and music “should've never appeared” because they’re wasteful, but then they art and music created humanity.. and only then humanity gains wisdom to use diverse tools. "We have been here a while At the end of Pi, as along came harvest” Humanity will evolve and change. I'm unsure about Pi, maybe a reference to physical limits reducing our numbers eventually. There is nice work on how physics shapes evolution, but that does not really fit here. Also, I'm suspicious Tuomas never read much evolutionary theory beyond Dawkins since afaik he never references Gould. A Gould reference would talk about places because Gould talks about how evolution has a random component and the separation by places creates new species over time. Gould is far less poetic than Dawkins and Darwin too of course. "We will remember all the suffering We wrote this in a tongue you will understand Words and melodies with a touch of coloring We were there and will remember mankind Our kin Aeons ago” Again emphasizes the genes (we) signing. Genes write our bodies, which we at least understand using. And they wrote our ability to use “words and melodies”. Those somewhat immortal genes will remember us in whatever we evolve into. A major theme of the album is that we owe everything that we are to art and music because sexual selection fixating upon art and music drove our evolution. At the end of The Extended Phenotype, Dawkins coined the term “meme” for the self replicating unit of human culture, and briefly discussed the idea that humans are such strange creates because of the interaction of two replicators, genes and memes aka culture. It's possible the seperation between Human and Nature in the album title references the two replicators, Human being meme, and Nature being gene. Yet Dawkins overstates this, all mammals teach their young some things. Humans are unique because we started using art and music to select mates. Tuomas repeatedly references or names several extremely poetic expositors of science, especially Carl Sagan and Dawkins. One should read them if you want to understand modern Nightwish songs. In fact, that’s Tuomas point: "If you're not interested about science, nature, mysteries of the universe there is something wrong with you" -- Tuomas Holopainen