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This isn't singing 'Kumbaya

Posted by Bob on February 27, 2006

In Reply to: This isn't singing 'Kumbaya posted by RRC on February 26, 2006

: : : : : "This isn't singing 'Kumbaya,' " I understand that 'Kumbaya' is a folk song and that the word is associated with unity or closeness.

: : : : : But I often hear "This isn't singing 'Kumbaya,' ". Could someone restate the phrase for me without using 'singing' and 'Kumbaya'.

: : : : This is a tough problem, and the solution won't be easy. Heads will roll. People will be stressed. Bruises, conflict, struggle. Darwinian survival for those who endure. It is not, in short, a situation that can be solved by sitting around in a circle singing wimpy folk songs hoping that uplifting attitudes will make everything right. Pragmatism versus "newage," which is New Age thinking set to rhyme with sewage.

: : : Bob is getting in his licks in his usual colorful, but accurate, way. Kumbaya is a simple song of somewhat uncertain origin (possibly Gullah), but with a positive theme, sung by groups stressing positive (i.e., Polyanna-ish) attitudes. Allegedly it can be heard or sung at karaoke bars, where anyone from the audience, talented or not, can get up and sing well-known songs to a pre-recorded accompaniment. Karaoke bars originated in Japan, but in the U.S. the word is pronounced kar-i-o-ki, or possibily ker-i-o-ki. It is sometimes argued that you have to have a positive attitude to mistake the singing you hear in a karaoke bar for music. New Agers are not particularly associated with karaoke bars, but are thought by outsiders (people who don't buy crystals) to have something in common, namely, a somewhat Panglossian view of the world. SS

: : :On most days I know how to spell Pollyanna. SS

: But I do like the image of a group of naively happy Annas singing in unison with their arms linked together - a Poly-Anna. ^_^

If they were insincere, would that be polyphony?
If Kumbaya were resticted to karaoke bars, we'd be lucky. But the song (and attitude) invaded churches a few decades ago, creating the least demanding religion ever: sit in a circle, sing, problems solved. It became a parody staple. Think Bluto at the Animal House party, smashing the folk singer's guitar.