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!

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!

Revisit Ole Dixie

Words and Music: Tom Lehrer
Artist: Tom Lehrer
Song: I Wanna Go Back to Dixie
Albums: Songs by Tom Lehrer, Revisited

Dixie is where we like to go ever again, be it in a good or be it in a bad mood. New Yorkers like to write songs about the southland. We have more examples at hand. This one is a wonderful illustration, a poetic tool that this staff here thoroughly approves of.

In his own words (you'll hear them in the video so you can skip this if you'll watch):
Well, what I like to do on formal occasions like this is to take some of the various types of songs that we all know and presumably love, and, as it were, to kick them when they're down.

I find if you take the various popular song forms to their logical extremes, you can arrive at almost anything from the ridiculous to the obscene, or - as they say in New York - sophisticated.

I'd like to Illustrate this with several hundred examples for you this evening, first of all, the southern type song about the wonders of the American south. It always seemed to me that most of these songs don't go far enough. The following song, on the other hand, goes too far. It's called "I Wanna Go Back To Dixie.

Take me back to dear ol' Dixie
That's the only li'l ol' place for li'l ol' me
Ol' times there are not forgotten
Whoppin' slaves and sellin' cotton
And waitin' for the Robert E. Lee
(It was never there on time)

I'll go back to the Swanee
Where pellagra makes you scrawny
And the Honeysuckle clutters up the vine
I really am a-fixin'
To go home and start a-mixin'
Down below that Mason-Dixon line
Oh, poll tax, how I love ya, how I love ya
My dear old poll tax

Won'tcha come with me to Alabammy
Back to the arms of my dear ol' Mammy
Her cookin's lousy and her hands are clammy
But what the hell, it's home

Yes, for paradise the Southland is my nominee
Jes' give me a ham hock and a grit of hominy
I wanna go back to Dixie
I wanna be a dixie pixie
And eat cornpone 'til it's comin' outta my ears

I wanna talk with Southern gentlemen
And put my white sheet on again,
I ain't seen one good lynchin' in years

The land of the bols evil
Where the laws are medieval
Is callin' me to come and nevermore roam

I wanna go back to the Southland
That „ye'all" and „shut-my-mouth" land
Be it ever so decadent
There's no place like home

plink, nix,    praise or blame!

last updated: 23.04.19 23:21

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