From the Fandango Ballroom
November 7, 2011 8:31 PM   Subscribe

The Rhythm of Life is one of those songs that sort of embeds itself in your brain. Originally from Sweet Charity, it's a powerful beat that is able to transcend meaning, transformed by the medium... The original intent was a bit of a bohemian/hippie chant. The song sometimes was voiced by a congregation that appeared somewhat more innocent. Yin and yang, backwards.... it's meaning became something different altogether. Or, there's this...
posted by HuronBob (19 comments total) 13 users marked this as a favorite
I love this. Great job.
posted by sweetkid at 8:38 PM on November 7, 2011

Fantastic! Thank you for this.
posted by sadtomato at 9:10 PM on November 7, 2011

it's meaning became something different altogether

man, I hate TV commercials.
posted by philip-random at 9:11 PM on November 7, 2011

Commercials are better when you have no idea what they're selling.
posted by oneswellfoop at 9:18 PM on November 7, 2011

Huh. In high school, my chorus sang a version similar to the one the little church children are singing, and I had no idea where the song was from or that it had been heavily Bowdlerized. I am retroactively annoyed. The song is actually pretty good with all that awesome sixties flair (whereas the milquetoast version we sang was exceeded in awfulness only by "Geographical Fugue" -- the recitation of which is currently the only way to get Mr. enlarged genuinely angry at me).
posted by enlarged to show texture at 9:24 PM on November 7, 2011 [1 favorite]

Man, I miss Bob Fosse. Thanks for this, HuronBob.
posted by tzikeh at 9:30 PM on November 7, 2011 [3 favorites]

Very enjoyable. Thanks.
posted by cairnoflore at 9:38 PM on November 7, 2011

The song sometimes was voiced by a congregation

Wow. No shit:
Mayo High School
The Royal Harmonics
Ferndale High School
PHHS Concert Choir
NSA Upper School Chorus
4th Grade Choir
Holicong Middle School's Robe Choir
Bloomsburg Bicentennial Choir
McCluer Choir
Songbirds Choir

I just stopped listing because I got bored. There are tons more. This song is choir catnip.
posted by twoleftfeet at 9:48 PM on November 7, 2011

Here are what seem to be the original lyrics.
posted by Joe in Australia at 10:08 PM on November 7, 2011

man, I hate TV commercials.
posted by philip-random at 5:11 AM on November 8

Me too, but I have to admit I thought that one was pretty damned smart.
posted by Decani at 11:52 PM on November 7, 2011

Up with people.
posted by spitbull at 2:56 AM on November 8, 2011

The summers I spent in music camp... everyone was required to be in the chorus. EVERYONE, counselors, kitchen staff... not the music teachers, but anyone under the age of about 20 had to take part.

Some weeks the chorus was stronger than others. There was an SATB arrangement of Rhythm Of Life which was pulled out for the weeks when it was especially strong. It was complicated, requiring quite a bit of breaking out for parts rehearsals and stuff. But the weeks when it actually came together, it was electrifying. Or at least it seemed so to a bunch of 8-15 year olds who were the type to attend summer camp.

I "accidentally" came home with a copy of the music one year. I still have it, and pull it out every once in a while to listen to the arrangement in my head while I look at the music. Even as I've gotten older and a bit more sophisticated about what makes an arrangement good or not, I still think this one is pretty damn excellent.

So... thanks for this. Ill have to explore the links when I have time after work. It's one of the songs which shaped my hippie view of the world, and I love it.
posted by hippybear at 4:22 AM on November 8, 2011 [1 favorite]

*huh* And the arrangement we did was the same one as in the second link in the FPP. Although we had more changed voices so it had a bit more punch than that choir of youngsters.
posted by hippybear at 4:28 AM on November 8, 2011

Wow, that's an eye-opener, I had no idea that a druggy song from probably one of the saddest, most cynical musicals ever had been turned into a church song.

Note - your second link isn't available to UK MeFites, blocked by EMI on copyright grounds.
posted by essexjan at 4:51 AM on November 8, 2011 [1 favorite]

Great links, thanks. I still remember seeing it performed by a middle school choir years ago.
posted by jasper411 at 6:19 AM on November 8, 2011

it's also a bit jim jonesy, no?
posted by PinkMoose at 7:28 AM on November 8, 2011

We sang this in high school choir. I had successfully blocked out all memory of it, but just seeing the name of the song sent the whole thing rushing back, including most of the lyrics. I have now caught myself singing it pretty much nonstop for the last 3 hours. So um, thanks.
posted by Mchelly at 8:00 AM on November 8, 2011 [1 favorite]

I sang one of the "modified" versions back in middle school as well. Years later, when I finally saw the film, I was amazed at the actual lyrics sung by Sammy Davis, Jr. Far from feeling like I had been duped into watering down a subversive hippy song, I was grinning like a loon, realizing what our chorus teacher had been trying to get across to us. It was like a time-bomb waiting to explode in my brain. :)
posted by blurker at 8:49 AM on November 8, 2011

I've sung the "modified" version in three separate church choirs, and I had no idea that there was an "original" version, let alone how awesome it is. I have a whole lot less resentment for the song now that I know what it's supposed to sound like. (The version that I sang uses the word "Neighbor" where the original lyrics say "Daddy", so I will now and forever think of it as the Ned Flanders version).
posted by Daily Alice at 10:08 AM on November 8, 2011

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