Thursday, January 06, 2011

Long Road From ‘Come By Here’ to ‘Kumbaya’ — On Religion -

Long Road From ‘Come By Here’ to ‘Kumbaya’ — On Religion -

"... With that wax cylinder, the oldest known recording of a spiritual titled for its recurring plea, Mr. Gordon set into motion a strange and revealing process of cultural appropriation, popularization and desecration. “Come By Here,” a song deeply rooted in black Christianity’s vision of a God who intercedes to deliver both solace and justice, by the 1960s became the pallid pop-folk sing-along 'Kumbaya.' And 'Kumbaya,' in turn, has lately been transformed into snarky shorthand for ridiculing a certain kind of idealism, a quest for common ground. ..."

This is actually a month or so old, but gives an interesting history of the well-known spiritual Kumbaya. It was first recorded in 1926 on a wax cylinder and featured a man from the coastal area of Georgia singing a song with the familiar words "Come by here".

It's particularly interesting to me that no one has found an indigenous African word that sounds like "kumbaya", but that the phrase "come by here" in the Gullah dialect of the Georgia coast might sound like "kumbaya".

No comments: