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Why is Kumbaya a dirty word?

Related threads:
(origins) Origins: Kumbaya (106)
How Do You Pronounce 'Kumbaya'? (13)
Holding hands and singing 'Kumbaya' (68)
Do you still sing Kumbaya (16)
(origins) Lyr Add: Come By Yuh (Spiritual) (18)
(origins) Composer: Kumb Bah Yah (19)
Lyr Req: Kumbaya / Kum Ba Yah (10)


Azizi 22 Feb 08 - 08:29 PM
Janie 22 Feb 08 - 07:57 PM
GUEST,Chicken Charlie 22 Feb 08 - 07:14 PM
Azizi 22 Feb 08 - 06:58 PM
Azizi 22 Feb 08 - 06:57 PM
Azizi 22 Feb 08 - 06:49 PM
Stringsinger 22 Feb 08 - 06:40 PM
GUEST,Cornishmessenger 22 Feb 08 - 06:23 PM
Azizi 21 Feb 08 - 06:42 PM
Richard Bridge 21 Feb 08 - 06:02 PM
Rowan 21 Feb 08 - 04:55 PM
McGrath of Harlow 21 Feb 08 - 01:00 PM
Azizi 20 Feb 08 - 10:34 PM
Azizi 20 Feb 08 - 09:49 PM
Azizi 20 Feb 08 - 09:47 PM
McGrath of Harlow 20 Feb 08 - 09:25 PM
McGrath of Harlow 20 Feb 08 - 08:44 PM
Little Hawk 20 Feb 08 - 06:15 PM
Rowan 20 Feb 08 - 06:06 PM
The Fooles Troupe 20 Feb 08 - 02:03 AM
Slag 20 Feb 08 - 01:29 AM
Azizi 19 Feb 08 - 07:55 PM
Slag 19 Feb 08 - 07:29 PM
meself 19 Feb 08 - 07:20 PM
McGrath of Harlow 19 Feb 08 - 07:06 PM
The Mole Catcher's Apprentice (inactive) 19 Feb 08 - 06:13 PM
BuckMulligan 19 Feb 08 - 05:48 PM
The Mole Catcher's Apprentice (inactive) 19 Feb 08 - 01:21 PM
GUEST,TJ in San Diego 19 Feb 08 - 01:17 PM
The Mole Catcher's Apprentice (inactive) 19 Feb 08 - 12:36 PM
McGrath of Harlow 19 Feb 08 - 12:34 PM
Little Hawk 19 Feb 08 - 12:30 PM
Richard Bridge 19 Feb 08 - 12:09 PM
The Mole Catcher's Apprentice (inactive) 19 Feb 08 - 11:59 AM
katlaughing 19 Feb 08 - 11:50 AM
GUEST,LDB 18 Feb 08 - 08:38 PM
McGrath of Harlow 18 Feb 08 - 07:21 PM
KT 18 Feb 08 - 07:15 PM
KT 18 Feb 08 - 07:07 PM
GUEST,Art again 18 Feb 08 - 06:47 PM
GUEST,Art Thieme 18 Feb 08 - 06:40 PM
McGrath of Harlow 18 Feb 08 - 05:28 PM
Richard Bridge 18 Feb 08 - 05:04 PM
GUEST,Pinetop Slim 18 Feb 08 - 02:51 PM
BuckMulligan 18 Feb 08 - 01:50 PM
Lonesome EJ 18 Feb 08 - 01:43 PM
meself 18 Feb 08 - 01:14 PM
McGrath of Harlow 18 Feb 08 - 12:33 PM
George Papavgeris 18 Feb 08 - 12:24 PM
GUEST,Chicken Charlie 18 Feb 08 - 11:59 AM
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Subject: RE: Why is Kumbaya a dirty word?
From: Azizi
Date: 22 Feb 08 - 08:29 PM

Yes, Janie, those musicians and that singer were really kickin' it.
That square drum that was played by one of the musicians is straight out of Africa, and is also found in the Caribbean. The second musician played a harmonica and the third musician/vocalist played an electric guitar.

Here's the myspace for that group:

http://profile.myspace.com/index.cfm?fuseaction=user.viewprofile&friendID=145162891

Would you believe that they're a Blues, Acoustic, Jam Band from Hamburg, Germany! Alright, Germany!

**

Btw, Janie, this is somewhat off-topic, but did you notice that familiar riff [is that what you call it?} that the guitarist played towards the end of that song? Was that from "Hush Little Baby, Don't You Cry?" or is it "Hambone"? Or are they the same tune?


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Subject: RE: Why is Kumbaya a dirty word?
From: Janie
Date: 22 Feb 08 - 07:57 PM

Thanks for the Blues culture link, Azizi. I really enjoyed that....and where it led me as I followed the cajon videos.


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Subject: RE: Why is Kumbaya a dirty word?
From: GUEST,Chicken Charlie
Date: 22 Feb 08 - 07:14 PM

In case you missed it, CornishMessenger, this thread is not about the literal meaning of the title of the song in question, but rather about the connotation. Implying that the several dozen people who have contributed to this thread are ignorant was unjustified, not to mention rude. Have a nice day, but please have the rest of it quietly.

Chicken Charlie


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Subject: RE: Why is Kumbaya a dirty word?
From: Azizi
Date: 22 Feb 08 - 06:58 PM

Ugh, double "the"s...

Oh well. Maybe I am ignorant.

:o)


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Subject: RE: Why is Kumbaya a dirty word?
From: Azizi
Date: 22 Feb 08 - 06:57 PM

Cornishmessenger,

let me hasten to say that I think you weren't really calling people ignorant. I think you were sharing a link to an information resource that some folks might not have known about.

However, I couldn't resist an opportunity to show off my knowledge about that saying from the The Virginian novel.

No harm meant, okay?


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Subject: RE: Why is Kumbaya a dirty word?
From: Azizi
Date: 22 Feb 08 - 06:49 PM

Here's that hyperlink, GUEST,Cornishmessenger:

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Kumbaya

And btw, when you call people ignorant, smile!*

*Hat tip for that saying to Owen Wister's 1902 classic novel The Virginian


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Subject: RE: Why is Kumbaya a dirty word?
From: Stringsinger
Date: 22 Feb 08 - 06:40 PM

There were parodies on American Peace Corps Volunteers who were for the most part of a liberal persuasion who would sing "Kumbayah" and "Puff, The Magic Dragon" as a kind of uniting anthem.

The idea that people would come together to sing for inspiration was a source for many
newscasters and Right-Wing Pundits to use this as an analogy for people "to make nice" with one other.

When candidates agree, for example in an election, the newscasters say this is "Kumbaya".

We all know that newscasters in general do not want candidates to get along with each other. If they fight, that makes news. More credit to Obama and Hillary for being civil and substantive in their debates. Newscasters can call this "Kumbayah" if they want to but it really is a compliment though the newswhores don't mean it that way.

Frank


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Subject: RE: Why is Kumbaya a dirty word?
From: GUEST,Cornishmessenger
Date: 22 Feb 08 - 06:23 PM

Check this link it explains what the word means for those who are ignorant

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Kumbaya


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Subject: RE: Why is Kumbaya a dirty word?
From: Azizi
Date: 21 Feb 08 - 06:42 PM

Yes, Richard, I love the spirit behind "Scandalize My Name".

I should mention that in the rendition of that song that I heard, the last line of the verse was "Scandalize my name". There was no "too" in that last line. So, instead of the way the song is written on that website I quoted from {as sung by the great Paul Robeson}, the song went like this:

I met my preacher the other day
And gave him my right hand
As soon as ever my back was turned
He scandalized my name

-snip-

I recall that there was a Mudcat thread in the past year in which folks discussed church practices such as "extending the right hand of fellowship". However, I can't remember the name of that thread.

Here's an excerpt from an article that refers to "extending the right hand of fellowship":

"...the Baptist tradition of extending the right hand of fellowship to new members finds its scriptural basis in Galatians 2:9: "and when James and Cephas and John, who were acknowledged pillars, recognized the grace that had been given to me, they gave to Barnabas and me the right hand of fellowship, agreeing that we should go to the Gentiles and they to the circumcised" (NRSV). Furthermore, to this day, extending the right hand of fellowship to new members continues to be the norm among American, Southern, British, and Canadian Baptists".

http://www.mcmaster.ca/mjtm/2-r3.htm


-snip-

Unless I'm remembering it incorrectly, in my Black Babtist church, and other Black Baptist churches, "extending the right hand of fellowship" meant shaking hands and also exchanging hugs at the end of the formal Sunday church service. This was a way of demonstrating and reaffirming the connectedness {one family under God} of all persons who had attended that church service-whether they were actual members of that particular church, or whether or not they were "born again" members of any church.

In the context of this thread, the point I want to make was that this custom didn't seem fake to me, but certainly within churches, as within all other communities there are people who smile in your face, and will talk about you "soon as your back is turned".

Which reminds me of another great song from the great Son House:

Grinnin' in Your Face by Son House (transcribed from a record)
Don't you mind people grinnin' in your face,
Don't mind people grinnin' in your face,
Just bear this in mind-
A true friend is hard to find;
Don't you mind people grinnin' in your face.

You know your mother will talk about you,
Your sisters and brothers, too;
Yes, don't care how you're trying to live,
They'll talk about you still...
Yes, but bear this in mind,
A true friend is hard to find;
Don't you mind people grinnin' in your face.

Repeat first verse

You know they'll jump you up and down

thread.CFM?threadID=1309

Here's a link to a funky* YouTube video of this song by an group called BluesCulture:

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=sqFsilhXnZU&feature=related


* In this context, "funky" is a compliment.


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Subject: RE: Why is Kumbaya a dirty word?
From: Richard Bridge
Date: 21 Feb 08 - 06:02 PM

I have to say, Azizi, I LIKE that scandalise song. Not my tradition, but merited fire in the belly.


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Subject: RE: Why is Kumbaya a dirty word?
From: Rowan
Date: 21 Feb 08 - 04:55 PM

I'm rather glad this "Kumbaya moment" nonsense doesn't seem to have made it across the Atlantic. Or the Pacific either, it appears from some of the posts on this thread.

Ditto, McGrath!

Although I was ignorant of the Gullah in the 60s-80s I did learn about them when I lived in South Carolina for a while in 1991-2. Even then I didn't learn of their connection to the song until I read this thread.

Cheers, Rowan


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Subject: RE: Why is Kumbaya a dirty word?
From: McGrath of Harlow
Date: 21 Feb 08 - 01:00 PM

I got curious about the Gullah language, and which part of Africa it linked with - some say Angola, other from the Gola people in Sierra Leone/Liberia.

So I started googling around and I found this Library of Congress site with a bunch of interviews with former slaves (not Gullah speaking), both audio and written - Voices from the Days of Slavery Fascinating, and moving.

I'm rather glad this "Kumbaya moment" nonsense doesn't seem to have made it across the Atlantic. Or the Pacific either, it appears from some of the posts on this thread.


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Subject: RE: Why is Kumbaya a dirty word?
From: Azizi
Date: 20 Feb 08 - 10:34 PM

It's interesting that some people equate the song Kumbaya-or at least the phrase Kumbaya moments-with fake comraderie for that African American spiritual was originally a heartfelt plea by enslaved peope for divine intervention.

There actually is at least one African American spiritual that talks about fake comraderie. That song is "Scandalize My Name".

Scandalize My Name

I met my brother the other day
And gave him my right hand
As soon as ever my back was turned
He scandalized my name

Now do you call that a brother?
No, no
You call that a brother?
No, no
You call that a brother
No, no
Scandalize my name

I met my sister the other day
And gave her my right hand
As soon as ever my back was turned
She too scandalized my name

Now do you call that a sister?
No, no
You call that a sister?
No, no
You call that a sister?
No, no
Scandalize my name

I met my preacher the other day
And gave him my right hand
As soon as ever my back was turned
He too scandalized my name

Now do you call that religion?
No, no
You call that religion?
No, no
You call that religion?
No, no
Scandalize my name.

http://www.lyricsdownload.com/paul-robeson-scandalize-my-name-lyrics.html

**

This past summer, I had the pleasure of hearing and singing the song "Scandalize Your Name" at my home church in Atlantic City, New Jersey. Reverend Bey, the lead minister of Union Baptist Temple started singing that song in response to another song that the choir had just sung. That song {whose title and words I can't remember} had a line in it about ministers doing wrong. I think that I remember the song "Scandalize My Name" so well partly because I had never heard it before, and partly because I admired the improvisational way the minister riffed on the choir's song.

The choir's song occurred right before Rev. Bey was to give his sermon. However, after the choir ended their song, instead of reading the scripture that his sermon was based on and then going into his prepared sermon, Rev. Bey made a jocular comment something like "Oh no, you had to go and talk about the pastor, didn't you? Well, that puts me to mind of this song". And then he started singing the song, and after the first line the pianist played accompaniment and the choir and the congregation started singing the song.

This experience was memorable for me because it "put me to mind" of olden day, downhome {Southern} Black social, good natured give and take experiences that I've read about but rarely if ever before this had experienced. The fact that the sung was unplanned and was in response to another song added to the experience for me.

**

Here's a link to a YouTube video of "Scandalize My Name" sung by two great vocalists-Jessye Norman And Kathleen Battle:

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=I4ZktluC0Mg


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Subject: RE: Why is Kumbaya a dirty word?
From: Azizi
Date: 20 Feb 08 - 09:49 PM

Wow, McGrath of Harlow!

I posted my comment before reading your post about that same "Someone's dissin', Lord, Kumbaya" article...

Great minds and all that!

:o))


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Subject: RE: Why is Kumbaya a dirty word?
From: Azizi
Date: 20 Feb 08 - 09:47 PM

Various Matters:

My thanks to those who have complimented me in this thread.
Your compilements were not only unexpected, they were also unsought. Yet, given the topic of this discussion, I feel the need to say that although I am very modest, my modesty still permits me to believe that your kind words are not examples of any Kumbaya moments.

:o)

**

The subject of Kumbaya is meaningful to me, partly because og my interest in African American cultures.

This subject is also meaningful to me since my first post on Mudcat was in reference to this song. That post was rather bitting-for me. But it was heartfelt. And I still stand by those words today.

thread.cfm?threadid=65010#1264364

Subject: RE: Kumbaya
From: GUEST,Azizi - PM
Date: 04 Sep 04 - 05:17 PM

I am a guest of your site and polite guests are supposed to ignore any crap they see or smell, but it makes me puke to read the comments that the song Kumbaya comes from Africaaners,the same people that brought us apartheid.

As a non-Gullah African American, I stand by the position that this spiritual is from the Gullah traditions and means "Come by here".

We {African Americans} need to be better at protecting our heritage from well meaning misstatements and conscious theft.

That being said, I do like reading posts here and am learning more about folk music in the United States and across the Atlantic.

However, it doesn't appear to be very many African Americans or other people of color posting here.

Sometimes race and ethnicity does matter".

**

Here is another post that I wrote on that same Origins-Kumbaya thread which speaks to a sub-topic of this thread- how some folks disparage this song:

Subject: RE: Origins: Kumbaya
From: Azizi - PM
Date: 01 Feb 07 - 08:57 AM

In true full circle effect, I found this online column http://blogs.chicagotribune.com/news_columnists_ezorn/2006/08/someones_dissin.html
[Eric Zorn; Change of Subject
A Chicago Tribune Web log; Originally posted: August 31, 2006]
that references this Mudcat thread as having the best online discussion of the origins of Kumbayah.

{On behalf of the other posters to this thread, "Thanks for the shout out, Eric!]

Here's an excerpt from that article:

"Someone's dissin', Lord, kumbaya

Poor "Kumbaya."

Its title has become synonymous with sappy, saccharine naiveté and peace-`n'-love, all-join-hands Pollyannaism that afflicts the starry-eyed. I've used the metaphor myself, even though I know it's a cliché that unfairly maligns a stirring and storied piece of music.

"Kumbaya" - also commonly spelled "Kumbayah" and "Kum-Ba-Yah"- is a glorious song, really. That's how it got popular enough to become a cliché in the first place.

The stately melody invites harmonies and is as simple as the words to the refrain: "Kumbaya, my Lord, Kumbaya" repeated three times. Then "Oh, Lord, Kumbaya."

Its origins are in dispute. Some folk historians say it started as "Come By Here," a 1930s-era composition by New York City clergyman Martin Frey. Missionaries took it to Africa, where natives pronounced the title, "Kum Ba Yah."

Others say the song originated far earlier among the Gullah people-- African-Americans living in the coastal areas of South Carolina and Georgia-and that "Kum Ba Yah" is "Come By Here" in their dialect.

Either way, the song had cross-cultural bonafides that lifted it out of the ordinary when it appeared on the scene during the folk boom of the 1950s and 1960s.   It's gentle call for divine presence struck a spiritual but non-sectarian tone.

The Weavers, Joan Baez, Pete Seeger and many others covered "Kumbaya," and it turned out to be perfect for campfires, hootenannies and guitar masses (giving rise to the expression, "Kumbaya Catholics"). Perhaps too perfect.

Chicago folklorist Paul Tyler says that the song "became banal at the hands of non-African-American camp counselors and church youth workers--include me in that number--who stripped it of any rhythmic integrity." (more from Tyler below)

The stately melody turned into vanilla dirge. And, in the backlash, "Kumbaya" came to represent shallow goodwill based on nothing more profound than the humdrum participles that differentiate the verses ("someone's sleeping, Lord..." "someone's praying, Lord..." and so on)...

[Pete Seeager interview cited]:

The man who wrote "Kumbaya my lord, Kumbaya," thought he wrote that until the day he died, he was sure he wrote it. He was very proud that African-Americans had speeded up his song and they liked to sing

"Come by here my lord
Come by here
Oh Lord, Come by here."

However, in the Library of Congress they played a recording for me of that song sung in 1920. Marvin Frey made up the slow version about 1936 or 37. He taught it to a family of missionaries that was going to Angola, and there they changed 'come by here' to Kumbaya,' the African pronunciation. Then it was brought back here." ...
-snip-

That online Chicago Tribune column starts with a link to this Youtube clip of a TV commercial for Bazooka bubble gum which began airing in August 2006:

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=XId0KW9Uy0U&eurl=

Here is Eric Zorn's description of that tv commercial/YouTube:

Smarmy, 20-ish bearded dude with hair down to his shoulders, wearing a tie-dye T-shirt and head scarf and sitting at a campfire with a guitar on his knee: Hi kids, welcome to Camp Chippewa. And let's all sing "Kumbaya."

Contemptuous campers, rhythmically: We don't want no "Kumbaya," All we want is bubble-gum! Bazooka-zooka bubble gum.

The Heights, a rap group, suddenly appearing: Bubble-gum! Bazooka-zooka bubble gum! Some gum!"

-snip-

The hyperlink to the Origins-Kumbaya thread is found at the top of this thread.


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Subject: RE: Why is Kumbaya a dirty word?
From: McGrath of Harlow
Date: 20 Feb 08 - 09:25 PM

Here is a longish (and interesting) article about the song and the sneers thaty thisthread have explored - "Someone's dissin', Lord, kumbaya"


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Subject: RE: Why is Kumbaya a dirty word?
From: McGrath of Harlow
Date: 20 Feb 08 - 08:44 PM

The other thing is when people go in for faking cynicism, because they feel embarrassed at letting their real feelings out,

There's quite a lot of that about too.


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Subject: RE: Why is Kumbaya a dirty word?
From: Little Hawk
Date: 20 Feb 08 - 06:15 PM

Just as an aside, Foolestroupe...we had a prime minister in Canada who was an absolute master at faking sincerity...so much so that he became known as "Lyin' Brian". He was a real smoothie. That was Brian Mulroney. He was Canada's chief exec through the Reagan years, and he and Reagan just doted on each other. He gave us NAFTA (so-called Free Trade, but it ain't!) He remains the single most detested political leader in Canada's history...but MAN, could that guy ever sound sincere!


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Subject: RE: Why is Kumbaya a dirty word?
From: Rowan
Date: 20 Feb 08 - 06:06 PM

Great stuff, Azizi. As usual. And there's been some impressive sensitivity on display from most on this thread.

In Oz, I recall Kumbaya being sung a lot but the contexts and overtones seemed (to me) to deal with group cohesion and unity of purpose. There was some connotation with American Civil Rights but I suspect only those rare individuals who'd spent time in the Carolinas would pick a Gullah connection and, while recognised as having lullaby atttributes I can't recall anyone identifying the song as such, specifically.

You don't hear it much these days, probably because it has become what Poms and Aussies would describe as "hackneyed". At a time when the scout movement was a major location for informal group singing, the 1st Hackney Scout Troop put out a hardbound songbook; I still have my father's copy from the early 1930s. It had the words of a lot of English "traditional" or "folk" songs (both sensu latu and sensu strictu); Tom Pierce is an example. When the folk revival got going in Oz (anywhere from the late 50s to late 60s depending on your definitions) there were a lot of English folk songs being sung, but very few dared to sing such things as Tom Pierce except as parody; the ridicule from those who thought themselves the 'masters of the genre' was intense. I suspect Kumbaya might, nowadays, frequently be given the same treatment in Oz, irrespective of contexts.

But, sung with serious intent, almost any hackneyed song still is capable of giving goose bumps. To the audience as well.

Cheers, Rowan


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Subject: RE: Why is Kumbaya a dirty word?
From: The Fooles Troupe
Date: 20 Feb 08 - 02:03 AM

"Overdose of sincerity."

As actors are taught - 'when you can fake sincerity, yuo can handle anything'...


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Subject: RE: Why is Kumbaya a dirty word?
From: Slag
Date: 20 Feb 08 - 01:29 AM

How about Rodney King's "Can't we all just get along?" That moment NEEDED Kumbaya.


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Subject: RE: Why is Kumbaya a dirty word?
From: Azizi
Date: 19 Feb 08 - 07:55 PM

Here's a political quote that addresses what the phrase "Kumbaya moment" has come to mean in the USA:

"KUMBAYA

In what may have been the most nonpartisan moment of this past summer, the official White House portraits of Bill Clinton and his wife, Senator Hillary Rodham Clinton, were unveiled in an unabashedly sentimental ceremony. President Bush praised his predecessor as a man ''with far-ranging knowledge of public policy, a great compassion for people in need,'' and ''42,'' as Bush nicknamed him, was grateful ''for all those kind and generous things you've said.'' David Sanger, a Times reporter, wrote, ''Graciousness oozed from all sides,'' and Representative Rahm Emanuel, Democrat of Illinois, who had been one of Clinton's most effectively partisan White House aides, noted, ''I thought everybody was going to break out in 'Kumbaya.'''

As the campaign heated up, the conservative radio talk-show host Laura Ingraham told Larry King of CNN that ''while this kumbaya moment that we're all sharing about party unity is wonderful, the truth of the matter is -- '' and then popped Senator Kerry for his blast at the president for outsourcing the hunt for Osama bin Laden. John Tierney of The Times, in his lively Political Points column, quoted Kerry's call for a ''more sensitive war on terror'' and awarded him the ''Kumbaya Prize.'' "

http://www.cmicdf.org/News/the--62-magazine-62-on-language-gaming.html

-snip-

So what does "Kumbaya moment" mean?

How about "an occurance or event noted for its participant/s expression of fake admiration or affection for an individual or for a group of people, or for an another person's accomplishment/s"?

Needless to say, I'm open to "hearing" what you think this relatively newly coined phrase means.

{Relatively newly coined=less than 10 years old. That's just a guess as I'm not sure how long the phrase "kumbaya moment" has been in use. But I don't think the phrase has been used for a long time}.


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Subject: RE: Why is Kumbaya a dirty word?
From: Slag
Date: 19 Feb 08 - 07:29 PM

Maybe most of you are to close to the subject to see that when those in the media use the term "Kumbaya moment" it is synonymous with claptrap. It is a song everybody knows and salutes. Yes, maybe smarmy to some but it's really about putting something forward that is not new and doesn't raise anyone's hackles. Leastwise, that's my take.

I like Kumbaya. I never got to hear it enough. Too much rock on the stations where I grew up.

As for Joyce Kilmer, yes smarmy and boy, could he ever mix metaphors!


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Subject: RE: Why is Kumbaya a dirty word?
From: meself
Date: 19 Feb 08 - 07:20 PM

I dreamed I would be wiser - wise as I was ... Ah, but I was so much older then ...


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Subject: RE: Why is Kumbaya a dirty word?
From: McGrath of Harlow
Date: 19 Feb 08 - 07:06 PM

When I was thirteen? Quite a few changes, nothing to be embarassed about- why should there be, as Charlotte said there.

Twenty and up - not too much change, basically.

"Oh, my friend, we're older but no wiser
For in our hearts, the dreams are still the same"


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Subject: RE: Why is Kumbaya a dirty word?
From: The Mole Catcher's Apprentice (inactive)
Date: 19 Feb 08 - 06:13 PM

I'm not embarrassed by what I believed when I was thirteen. I believed what I believed then, I believe what I believe now...why be embarrassed?

Charlotte (the view from Ma and Pa's piano stool)


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Subject: RE: Why is Kumbaya a dirty word?
From: BuckMulligan
Date: 19 Feb 08 - 05:48 PM

I'm not embarrassed by what I believed in 1962. (I was a tad bit older than 13 though) (ok, sixteen).

I'm embarrassed that I let so much of it fall away, in fact. I guess it makes a difference what you believed when you were 13.

Kumbaya is, after all, a luulaby, not a protest song (as Richard so correctly pointed out). (Sorta).


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Subject: RE: Why is Kumbaya a dirty word?
From: The Mole Catcher's Apprentice (inactive)
Date: 19 Feb 08 - 01:21 PM

There are people that love the song. I was part of a team that went around to retirement homes and sang and played for the residents at the time I last sang Kumbaya, and one of the said residence said to me afterwards about Kumbaya, the old saw..."they don't write them like that anymore, and you know what? That woman was right.

Charlotte (performs for all the community)


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Subject: RE: Why is Kumbaya a dirty word?
From: GUEST,TJ in San Diego
Date: 19 Feb 08 - 01:17 PM

Living in a culture accustomed to sound bites, "buzz words" and catch phrases, it is easy to wear things out from overuse. I do happen to find the sentiment in "Kumbaya" a little simplistic and naive, but isn't altruism, while possibly also simple and naive, a deeply valued social tradition in many cultures?


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Subject: RE: Why is Kumbaya a dirty word?
From: The Mole Catcher's Apprentice (inactive)
Date: 19 Feb 08 - 12:36 PM

when was the last time I sang it...about 2 months ago, on request from a member of the audience...have a NICE day.

Charlotte (knows of what she speaks)


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Subject: RE: Why is Kumbaya a dirty word?
From: McGrath of Harlow
Date: 19 Feb 08 - 12:34 PM

"...it's one of those songs that's been played just one too many times for me."

When was the last time you sang it or heard someone sing it? Not for a good few years I bet. Sometimes these "overexposed" songs don't in fact get any exposure at all.


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Subject: RE: Why is Kumbaya a dirty word?
From: Little Hawk
Date: 19 Feb 08 - 12:30 PM

So true! I fervently believed in a girl named Pam Ford when I was 13. She was the most popular girl in my class. She even became a cheerleader and I think she was Prom Queen too. I doubt that we would find much to talk about now.

Now, then, how about "hootenanny"? Anyone remember when that word became totally passe? It wore out a lot quicker than Kumbaya did.


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Subject: RE: Why is Kumbaya a dirty word?
From: Richard Bridge
Date: 19 Feb 08 - 12:09 PM

I think we are mostly now embarrassed by what we fervently believed in when we were 13, aren't we?


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Subject: RE: Why is Kumbaya a dirty word?
From: The Mole Catcher's Apprentice (inactive)
Date: 19 Feb 08 - 11:59 AM

This may have already been said, somewhere in the thread. Kumbaya is a lovely song, but it's one of those songs that's been played just one too many times for me. I have one or two like that, that were in my repetoire, but I'm now resting them due to over-exposure.

Charlotte (the view from Ma and Pa's piano stool)


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Subject: RE: Why is Kumbaya a dirty word?
From: katlaughing
Date: 19 Feb 08 - 11:50 AM

KT, the photographer who took the famous flowers in the gun muzzle just died this past year. I started a thread about it, but it didn't get many hits.:-)

LeeJ, thanks...that's exactly what meant.


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Subject: RE: Why is Kumbaya a dirty word?
From: GUEST,LDB
Date: 18 Feb 08 - 08:38 PM

Art, I know you only by your recordings and appearance at Winfield, but I heard this the other day and thought this might have been something you would have taken further even if it was from Kilmer.

I think that I shall never see

A conservative who loves a tree.

LDB


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Subject: RE: Why is Kumbaya a dirty word?
From: McGrath of Harlow
Date: 18 Feb 08 - 07:21 PM

When the word "naive" comes into play, there's a proverb of William Blake that seems curiously relevant: "If the fool would persist in his folly he would become wise."


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Subject: RE: Why is Kumbaya a dirty word?
From: KT
Date: 18 Feb 08 - 07:15 PM

So now I'm thinking about how one would define "Kumbaya Moment." In it's simplist form, doesn't it mean, having one's heart wide open with hope and longing for what is good and right? Nothin' wrong with that.

I'm reminded of a phrase from our own George Papavgeris - "Where are the flowers that we put into the muzzles of the guns?"

KT


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Subject: RE: Why is Kumbaya a dirty word?
From: KT
Date: 18 Feb 08 - 07:07 PM

"When I hear it, it lies beyond those connotations, somewhere in the heart of a thirteen year old boy, where it still resonates."

Beautiful, LEJ! That's the core I was talking about way up there (17 Feb 08 - 03:27 AM )

KT


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Subject: RE: Why is Kumbaya a dirty word?
From: GUEST,Art again
Date: 18 Feb 08 - 06:47 PM

I once heard Bob Gibson sing it:

Someone's kidding lord, Kum ba ya!
You've got to be kidding, lord, kum ba ya...

Art Thieme


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Subject: RE: Why is Kumbaya a dirty word?
From: GUEST,Art Thieme
Date: 18 Feb 08 - 06:40 PM

Folks,

Try "Amazing Grace" with the tune of the old TV show theme from Gilligan's Island. They go great together!! ;-)

Art


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Subject: RE: Why is Kumbaya a dirty word?
From: McGrath of Harlow
Date: 18 Feb 08 - 05:28 PM

But God help those who only help themselves...


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Subject: RE: Why is Kumbaya a dirty word?
From: Richard Bridge
Date: 18 Feb 08 - 05:04 PM

God helps those who help themselves.


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Subject: RE: Why is Kumbaya a dirty word?
From: GUEST,Pinetop Slim
Date: 18 Feb 08 - 02:51 PM

Thanks for posting the lyrics, Lonesome EJ. Insert the meaning of Kumbayah as posted earlier -- Come By Here -- and it reads like a very lovely benediction. If such a benediction has become a cliche, we all may be in deeper trouble than we thought.
And if we're ashamed to admit to idealism or, worse, inclined to sneer at it, we're in deeper trouble still.
Kumbayah needs a Willie Nelson, someone able to pick a worn-out song off the trash heap and breathe new life into it.


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Subject: RE: Why is Kumbaya a dirty word?
From: BuckMulligan
Date: 18 Feb 08 - 01:50 PM

Richard - thanks, but I didn't imply that I thought the songs were in the same category, I expressly wondered whether things expressed here also applied to them. Appreciate the clarification though.


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Subject: RE: Why is Kumbaya a dirty word?
From: Lonesome EJ
Date: 18 Feb 08 - 01:43 PM

I learned this song in my Junior High Chorus Class. It was 1964 and I had never heard of the song before.It really seemed kind of exotic, in its African words and styling. We learned to sing trailing harmonies to it, with the basses and tenors singing Kumbaya just before the altos and sopranos shadowed the word with their higher harmony. We sang it in the gymnasium to an assembly of our schoolmates and teachers, and I can recall that the usually rowdy crowd was silent as the echoes of the song reverberated in the hall. It was always the kind of song that had a sort of magic in it, that sounded better unaccompanied by instruments, that sounded, as Janie said, like a prayer.

Kumbaya, my Lord, Kumbaya!
Kumbaya, my Lord, Kumbaya!
Kumbaya, my Lord, Kumbaya!
Oh, Lord! Kumbaya!

Someone's crying, Lord, Kumbaya!
Someone's crying, Lord, Kumbaya!
Someone's crying, Lord, Kumbaya!
Oh, Lord! Kumbaya!

Someone's singing, Lord, Kumbaya!
Someone's singing, Lord, Kumbaya!
Someone's singing, Lord, Kumbaya!
Oh, Lord! Kumbaya!

Someone's praying, Lord, Kumbaya!
Someone's praying, Lord, Kumbaya!
Someone's praying, Lord, Kumbaya!
Oh, Lord! Kumbaya!

Beautiful in its simplicity, the song bears no reponsibility for how it was used, whether as a civil rights anthem or an anti-war hymn. It also transcends its use as a chide. When I hear it, it lies beyond those connotations, somewhere in the heart of a thirteen year old boy, where it still resonates.


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Subject: RE: Why is Kumbaya a dirty word?
From: meself
Date: 18 Feb 08 - 01:14 PM

[Re: 'cute'. In some rural areas of Canada it is indeed used in the sense of 'acute', 'sly', 'tricky' ... Whether this comes from Irish usage I don't know, but the regions I associate this usage with do have considerable Irish influence: Newfoundland and the Ottawa Valley].

Re: Kumbaya. Once again, I'm struck by how much our reaction to certain songs depends on the specific circles we've travelled in - or spun out of. I sang Kumbaya enough as a kid in the 'sixties to get mightily tired of it, but I don't think I ever associated it with civil rights or the saving of the world generally. I understood it to have vaguely African origins, but this was just a point of interest without political overtones. It was simply, like Michael Row the Boat Ashore, an appealing (for awhile) spiritual that everyone could join in on. When we sang We Shall Overcome, on the other hand, I think most kids were aware of its connection with the civil rights movement, which I'm sure we all (as good Canadians) felt was a worthy enterprise, but I certainly didn't imagine that a bunch of us singing it around a campfire was going to change anything. It was something to sing, and an inspiration to think a bit about people who were in a tough situation, and were struggling to do something about it ... So I don't feel any embarrassment about any of those songs - but that has to do with my own experience, and not with the songs themselves.


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Subject: RE: Why is Kumbaya a dirty word?
From: McGrath of Harlow
Date: 18 Feb 08 - 12:33 PM

Takes more than wishing - but without wishing there isn't a chance in hell of achieving those things.

All this has an interesting echo in the current pre-election goings-on in America, with exchanges about "hope" between Clinton and Obama. I anticipate that at some time Obama will get slagged off as "the Kumbaya candidate", if that hasn't happened as yet.


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Subject: RE: Why is Kumbaya a dirty word?
From: George Papavgeris
Date: 18 Feb 08 - 12:24 PM

Of all the explanations and theories, my favourite remains Spaw's from yesterday. "... sadness and sorrow over our loss of innocence which we can never recover", yes that hits home.

And we shouldn't forget either that youth is a time to be innocent and idealistic to the point of naivete. If we don't dream, we never strive and achieve, only survive, and sometimes not even that. And here is what saddens me most: when I see youngsters disillusioned.

So, nothing wrong with having once sung "Kumbaya" with arms interlinked at some concert or round a fire, and nothing wrong with having had strong emotions at the time. And if the same doesn't ring as true today as it did then, well guess what, the song hasn't changed. Only we have. And if maturity means becoming emotionally arteriosclerotic and jaded, then f*ck maturity; it's just a form of slow death.

The Who's lyric was wrong - it should have been "hope I die before I get cynical".


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Subject: RE: Why is Kumbaya a dirty word?
From: GUEST,Chicken Charlie
Date: 18 Feb 08 - 11:59 AM

IMO, the problem with the song is nothing to do with music--as a song, it's fine--nor with the meaning, alleged meaning, pseudo-meaning, pseudo-porno-meaning or other-meaning of the word. I am still chuckling over the idea of American "familiarity" with Gullah. That in itself, to me, is a Kumbaya moment. What the problem is, I think, is the naive belief that massive socio-economic problems can be easily addressed. Best example was a friend of mine saying that if we ever catch Osama bin Laden, we should just all sit down and sing "Kumbaya" together. Solving problems and eliminating differences is a laudable GOAL, but given human nature, it will take more than wishing.

Oh, and LittleHawk, the next time you have such a lovely inspiration for raising the level of discourse, would you do me a favor and keep it the eff to yourself?

Chicken Charlie


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