Great Jewish Songs: An Overview

This is an overview of our comments on great Jewish songs and lyrics some of which belong to the romantic repertoire of Jewish standards. For quite some songs lots of people know that the author/s was/were/is/are Jews but there are also quite some were not that many human beings we know, know that they have deep roots in Jewish Culture.

As can be easily glimpsed from the selection we are great fans of songs that Jews wrote for or that have been taken up by African-American artists (formerly called either black or negro singers). Also, in the youth of quite a few of our illustrious editorial staff Viennese Jewish Music played a hard to overestimate role.

As to the languages, many of these are in English, some are in German, and even the oddball Yiddish example can be heard and understood if one really wants to. Up till now there's one in French and one in Hebrew. Ladino songs are to follow but have not yet made it into these pages.

Due to the inner nature of blogging software, articles get posted nicely for daily reading and not so nicely for leisurely sunday afternoon archive browsing. So here's a little implement to make it easier for the p.t. audience to re-read and re-hear.

Stevie Wonder playing to Burt Bacharach

Thanks to the large GOOG-financed public casting system most of the time we can also offer awesome original interpretations ripped from old video tape and shellac or vinyl records. Many of these copies are probably barely legal. Welcome everybody to the joys of postmodern triple media. Cute they are, are they not?

plink, nix,    praise or blame!

Pollution, Pollution

Autor: Tom Lehrer Künstler: Tom Lehrer Album: That Was The Year That Was Song: Pollution

This is the second installment on Tom Lehrer and rightly so because along with Shel Silverstein and with more hilarious ones to his credit he is one of the funniest Jewish English language poets and a brilliant cabaret piano player on top of that.

That Was the Year That Was is a 1965 live album recorded at the hungry i in San Francisco, containing performances by Tom Lehrer of topical songs he had written for the NBC television series with that name, known informally as TW3. All of the album's songs are related to items in the news of 1964 and 1965. Some things like pollution take long to have effects in nature and also long to become known to all of society in the remote provinces of the empire.

What climate change is today pollution was in the 60ies and 70ies. While its easily perceivable effects in Western cities have largely been elimintated by national states and international contracts and projects, its long term and far away effects still wreak a lot of havoc in large waters and air. That is also how we can connect this song to today's Swedish girls' activities.

If you visit American city, You will find it very pretty. Just two things of which you must beware: Don’t drink the water and don’t breathe the air!

Pollution, pollution! They got smog and sewage and mud. Turn on your tap And get hot and cold running crud!

See the halibuts and the sturgeons Being wiped out by detergents. Fish gotta swim and birds gotta fly, But they don’t last long if they try.

Pollution, pollution! You can use the latest toothpaste, And then rinse your mouth With industrial waste.

Just go out for a breath of air And you’ll be ready for Medicare. The city streets are really quite a thrill – If the hoods don’t get you, the monoxide will.

Pollution, pollution! Wear a gas mask and a veil. Then you can breathe, Long as you don’t inhale!

Lots of things there that you can drink, But stay away from the kitchen sink! Throw out your breakfast garbage

And I’ve got a hunch…

that the folks downstream

will drink it for lunch!

So go to the city, See the crazy people there. Like lambs to the slaughter, They’re drinking the water And breathing [cough] the air!

plink, nix,    praise or blame!

Der Frühling kommt sicher - und mit ihm ein Märchen

Autor: Georg Kreisler Künstler: Georg Kreisler Album: Die Georg Kreisler Platte Song: Frühlingsmärchen

Der Frühling kommt jetzt real und im Kalender in knapp 2 Wochen. Hurra. Viel braucht niemand zu Herrn Kreislers Frühlingsmärchen schreiben, außer vielleicht, "schon wieder der Kreisler". Und dass der Kreisler mit dem Palestrina und dem Flötenunterricht natürlich vollkommen recht hat. Und wenn er in der Nachfolge von Lehrer auch ein viel berühmteres Frühlingslied geschrieben und vorgetragen hat so ist dieses hier trotzdem unser Lieblingsfrühlingslied. Wir können halt doch nicht leugnen, dass wir hier in Jamaica hoffnungslose utopische Romantiker geblieben sind. Merkt eh jede, die sich auskennt.

Spielt ein Neger auf der Flöte Palestrina, am Girardiplatz, im Jänner, wenn es schneit, ja, dann teilen sich die Wolken über China, und in Moskau spricht die jüngste Ballerina: "Es ist Frühlingszeit, es ist Frühlingszeit, es ist Frühlingszeit!"

Dreht ein Mädchen namens Mia sich gen Mekka, und der Wind zerreisst das Band auf ihrem Hut, ja, dann wird man in Skutari plötzlich kecker, und in Sofia beginnt ein Streik der Bäcker. Dann ist alles gut, dann ist alles gut, dann ist alles gut.

Flötenunterricht kann nicht viel kosten Und Palestrina sollte jedermann studier'n! Und die Mia dreh' ich selber gegen Osten – Nur muss man das genau synchronisier'n

Denn dann teilen sich die Wolken über China, Und am Balkan ruft man froh: „Es ist soweit!“ Und in Moskau spricht die jüngste Ballerina: "Es ist Frühlingszeit, Es ist Frühlingszeit, Es ist Frühlingszeit!"

plink, nix,    praise or blame!

Cry-Baby, Cry Till We Cry

Authors: Bert Berns and Jerry Ragovoy Artists: Garnet Mimms and the Enchanters, Janis Joplin Album: Pearl Song: Cry Baby

Born in the Bronx, New York City, in November of 1929 to Russian Jewish immigrants, when Bert Berns was a child rheumatic fever damaged his heart and would mark the rest of his life, resulting in an early death.

Turning to music, he found consolance in the sounds of his African American and Latino neighbors. As a young man, Berns danced in mambo nightclubs, and made his way to Havana before the Cuban Revolution.

Jerry Ragovoy on the other hand was born in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, less than one year later, in September of 1930, the son of a Hungarian-born Jewish optometrist. He entered the music industry at age 23 in 1953 with "My Girl Awaits Me" by the Castelles, the fabulous creators of the so called "Philadelphia Sound" (high tenor lead, one bass, many tenors in close harmony and minimal instrumentation).

Another well-known song by Ragovoy is "Piece of My Heart", also co-written with Berns and recorded originally by Erma Franklin, the elder sister of guess who, and later famously also covered by Janis Joplin. Between 1966 and 1968, Ragovoy was employed as a producer and songwriter for the Warner Bros subsidiary Loma Records. He went on to co-write several more songs that played a role in Joplin's career, including "Try (Just a Little Bit Harder)", "Get it While You Can" and "My Baby". Prior to Joplin's early death, Ragovoy wrote a song especially for her album to come, titled "I'm Gonna Rock My Way to Heaven". The song was never recorded or performed until shortly before Ragovoy's death in July 2011.

In 1963 Berns and Ragovoy wrote "Cry Baby" which was originally recorded by Garnet Mimms and the Enchanters for United Artists. It topped the R&B chart and went to #4 on the Billboard Hot 100 chart in 1963 and is believed to have paved the way for soul hits by Aretha Franklin and Otis Redding later in the decade. The third verse was spoken by Mimms until the repeated refrain of the repeated song title.

Joplin recorded the song over the course of September and October 1970 for her album Pearl, posthumously released in 1971. It became a staple in her repertoire for the short rest of her life. Its producer was Paul A. Rothchild. On the single, the B-side was "Mercedes Benz".

Berns, who, as we already have said, had a history of cardiac trouble, died in his New York apartment of heart failure on December 30, 1967, aged 38. Bad universe.

Ragovoy on the other hand soldiered on by himself and died, following a stroke, on July 13, 2011, at the age of 80.

Cry baby

Cry baby, cry baby, cry baby

Honey, welcome back home I know she told you, honey I know she told you that she loved you Much more than I did but all I know is that she left you And you swear that you just don't know why But you know, honey I'll always, I'll always be around if you ever want me

Come on and cry, cry baby, cry baby, cry baby

Oh honey, welcome back home Don't you know, honey Honey ain't nobody ever gonna love you the way I try to do? Who'll take all your pain, and your heartache, too? And if you need me you know that I'll always be around If you ever want me

Come on and cry, cry baby, cry baby, cry baby

Oh Daddy, like you always saying to do And when you walk around the world, babe You said you'd try to look for the end of the road You might find out later that the road'll end in Detroit Honey, the road'll even end in Kathmandu You can go all around the world Trying to find something to do with your life, baby We only gotta do one thing well You only gotta do one thing well to make it in this world, babe You got a woman waiting for you there

All you ever gotta do is be a good man one time to one woman And that'll be the end of the road, babe I know you got more tears to share, babe So come on, come on Come on, come on, come on And cry, cry baby, cry baby, cry And if you ever feel a little lonely, dear I want you to come on, come on to your mama now And if you ever want a little love of a woman Come on and baby, baby, baby, babe, babe, baby now Cry baby, yeah

plink, nix,    praise or blame!

Losing The Rotten Yoke

Musik und katalanischer Text: Lluís Llach Jiddischer Text: Yuri Vedenyapin Interpret: Lorin Sklamberg Album: Appikorsim Song: Der yokh

Dieser Song ist ähnlich wie Jerusalem of Gold (ירושלים של זהב) von Naomi Shemer (נעמי שמר) aus dem Jahr 1967, das zur heimlichen Hymne Israels wurde, nur teilweise jüdisch und da vor allem im Text. Und während das eine auf einem sogenannten popular vasca mit dem Titel Pello Joxepe* aufbaut, stammt Der yokh(דער יאָך) aus dem katalanischen Widerstand gegen die Franco-Diktatur und von einem namentlich bekannten Komponisten und Texter namens Lluís Llach.

Yuri Vedenyapin aus Moskau und Cambridge (Massachusetts) hat L'Estaca sehr sehr schön ins Jiddische übertragen.

Der yokh

Mir zaynen geshtanen in tsweyen, Es hot nokh nisht getogt A ferdl farbay un a vogn, Un 'kh'hob dem zeydn gesogt: Tsi zestu af undzere rukns Dem shvern ayzernem yokh, Ken men nisht geyn, nisht flien, Krigt men a bis un a shtokh.

Tsuzamen kenen mir aroys, Zol zayn a sho, a tog, a vokh, Er vet shoyn faln, faln, faln, Der zerfoylter alter yokh.

Az ikh zol tsien in der mit, un do zolst zien in der zayt, Er vet shoyn faln, faln, faln, Demolt vern mir bafrayt.

Shoyn lange yorn shteyen mir Aropgedrikt fun dem brokh. Es minert sikh mayn koyekh, Es vert alts shverer der yokh. Vayl khotsh tserfoylt und farzhavert, Dokh halt er vi a tsvang, Nor ven ikh halt shoyn baym faln, Her ikh dem zeydns gezang:

Tsuzamen ...

Der zeyde iz shoyn lang avek, Me' hert shoyn nisht zayn kol, Es hot im avekgetrogn a vint, Nor ikh shtey do vi amol. Es geyen naye yinglekh farbay, Shtrek ikh tsu zey di hent Un zing far zey dem zeydns lid, Vos er hot mikh gelernt.

Tsusamen ....

* Pello Joxepe tabernan dela haurra jaio da Larraulen. Etxera joan ta esan omen du ez da nerea izanen, ama horrek berak topa dezala haur horrek aita non duen. Ai, hau pena ta pesadumbrea senarrak haurra ukatu. Haur honentzako beste jaberik ezin nezake topatu. Pello Josepe, bihotz nerea, haur herrek aita zu zaitu.

plink, nix,    praise or blame!

last updated: 05.04.22, 07:16

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