Daily Archives: September 3, 2010

‘Straight’ Kookaburra it is…

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Check out this interesting piece of news from Australia taken from Yahoo! News yesterday:

MELBOURNE (AFP) – An Australian school was under fire Thursday after erasing the word “gay” from iconic song “Kookaburra Sits in the Old Gum Tree” to stop children tittering.

Garry Martin, head of Melbourne’s Lepage Primary, said he did not mean to insult gay people by replacing the word with “fun” in the chorus, which normally goes: “Laugh, kookaburra, laugh, kookaburra, gay your life must be”.

“I knew if we sing ‘Gay your life must be’ the kids will roll around the floor in fits of laughter,” Martin told commercial radio.

“I just suggested to kids, ‘Nowadays that can mean different things, so let’s just sing fun’,” he added.

Martin admitted he had probably been “hypersensitive”, but said the word was commonly used as a playground insult and he was keen to minimise disruption in the classroom.

In hindsight, he said he should have simply explained the meaning of “gay” as another word for “happy”, and told the children it shouldn’t be used disparagingly.

“I wasn’t trying to insult gay people… it was just a decision at the time that I thought would minimise a disruptive atmosphere with grades one and two.”

“Kookaburra”, penned for a 1935 Girl Guides jamboree, has been in the news this year after a judge found its tune was ripped off in Men At Work’s “Down Under”, a global hit in 1981 and an unofficial Australian anthem.

Men At Work and their record label were ordered to pay five percent of profits from “Down Under” to Larrikin Music, which had bought the rights to “Kookaburra”.


It caught my attention because it’s one of Collin’s favourite songs that I regularly sing with/to him.

I guess only innocent minds of children will not think of such controversies when such words like GAY appears. Haha. 😀 Even children songs are not FUN to sing anymore, huh? :-p

For those of you who are not familiar with this campfire song, it goes like this (words added in parenthesis):

Kookaburra sits in the old gum tree
Merry, merry king of the bush is he
Laugh, Kookaburra! Laugh, Kookaburra!
Gay your life must be (ha, ha, ha…)

Kookaburra sits in the old gum tree
Counting all the monkeys he can see
Stop, Kookaburra! Stop, Kookaburra!
That’s no monkey that’s me (Collin Cheah..)