Category: Music

ReCovering Jewish Music

Anyone familiar with Jewish Music knows that Jewish music occasionally “borrows” from its secular culture. There are parody groups such as Shlock Rock and Rechnitzer Rejects,1 who perform with an obviously humorous, satirical, or educational purpose. Some bands blatantly use secular music ironically:

Men at Work – Down UnderPiamenta – Asher Boro

Then are the examples of outright plagiarism, the most notable one pointed out way back by Rabbi Avraham Bronstein2

Dschinghis Khan – Dschinghis KhanMordechai Ben David – Yidden

Even the Hatikva, the Israeli National Anthem, appears to find its origins elsewhere:

La Mantovana (Italy 17th century)Hatikva

And I’m sure my astute and cultured readers can drudge up other examples. But this begs the question if Jews borrow liberally from secular music, does the converse also hold true with non-Jews using “Jewish” music as well?3 Let’s take a look:

P.D.Q. Bach In Business

Loyal readers of the blog may have picked up on my interests in shtick and music, so it not come as a surprised to know that I would enjoy some of Peter Schickele’s work on P.D.Q. Bach.1 Last night I was fortunate to have attended my first P.D.Q. Bach Concert at Lincoln Center.
The best way to describe the experience would be to combine the music of classical composers, the irreverence of Frank Zappa, and the audience of Rocky Horror (though thankfully, without the drag). I’m not sure how else to explain the surreal and seamless synthesis of balloons, bicycles, basketballs, power outages, the hokey pokey, and a bagpipe vibrato.
If you find this sort of thing appealing or happen to be completely drunk, then check out come clips and the upcoming concert schedule.2

1. Many thanks to Ben Resnick for the introduction.
2. Though I doubt I can attend, I’m loving the fact that the April Fool’s concert will be held in a place called Fredonia.

Sweet Dreams Are Made Of This

A website called Baby Rock Records is selling CD’s of “lullabalized” versions of popular music.

Rockabye Baby! transforms timeless rock songs into beautiful instrumental lullabies. The soothing sounds of the glockenspiel, vibraphone, melltoron and other instruments will lull your baby into a sweet slumber.

Presumably the intent is to turn kids into social misfits at the ripe old age of 3 weeks. Here are just some of the bands they’ve covered or are planning to in the near future:

Apparently Ozzy, Iron Maiden, and the Sex Pistols were too difficult to obtain, but on the plus side, they probably didn’t need to put in too much effort to convert Coldplay into baby music.
Seriously though, I like a good glockenspiel as much as the next guy, but the selected audio samples they provide remind me of the old MIDI’s only MUCH creepier and eerily hypnotic. Take a listen to their take on Nirvana’s Come As You Are (MP3) and Metallica’s Enter Sandman (go figure). I’d be very curious to see what long term effects these may have on kids.
Then again, a better question might be if you’d really prefer Rafi.

Weird Wedding Songs

Weddings are supposed to be happy occasions celebrating the love and commitment of two individuals who choose to spend the rest of their lives together. And yet for some reason, bands play songs which are completely incongruous with the theme of the day, and incredibly they do so often at the couple’s request.

AskMen listed 10 Wedding Songs to Avoid where people think these songs are romantic but have obviously never listened to the lyrics. While many Jewish weddings don’t usually play secular music in full, every now and again the band will play a riff or two from rock songs just to shake things up a bit. And here too many of the selections can seem a little bit strange.

I first commented on this a while back, and noticed it again at the first wedding I officiated. Since I hear new things all the time I’ve decided to keep a running list of all the well intentioned but probelmatic songs I’ve actually heard at weddings. To narrow things down, I’m just focusing on songs in which the lyrics don’t fit in with the spirit of the day. For example, while Get Down Tonight might not be the most romantic or subtle song in the world, it still makes sense in its own way. On the other hand, the ones listed below are a little more difficult to explain.

I’m sure I’ll be adding more in the future – especially if I get married myself.

1. Though in fairness, Robert Plant does refer to Stairway as a “bloody wedding song.”
2. For Jewish weddings, note that the “Yiddin” dance fits perfectly.

Enjoy The Silence

In what is not considered to be a blasphemous rumor, Depeche Mode cancelled their upcoming Israeli concert. Either the tech crew just had enough of the dangerous situation or it’s some form of condemnation, but cancellations such as these are becoming a pain that Israel is used to.
All right, I’m done now.

Audition Hoax

It seems that the audition was just a ruse to get me to sign up for the Arts Festival; there is no audition and I’m apparently on the bill. This means that choice 1 with 86% of the vote wins in that I’m playing, as does choice 3 with one vote in that I get to slap the person who suggested it.
The next question is what to do…

Arts Festival Audition?

I was just asked to audition for the End The Madness! Talent Show on Aug 25. Sure I can play a bit and figure out chords, but I’ve never really considered myself a performer and this isn’t the same as an open mic night or a random talent show.
I could use some help here, especially from people who have heard me play. Whaddaya say?

Keep in mind that if the audition does go well – or at least better than everyone else – I’d probably have to actually perform.

Blues Fest

FYI – Yes, I’m still alive, and just about ready to get back to blogging on a regular basis. And believe me, there’s much to discuss.1
Still, I was able to make it to the annual free outdoor Chicago Blues Festival. I camped out at Gibson sponsored sound stage – had a great spot in the shade on a wonderful day. I got there a little early, but while they were setting up for the acts, they played some John Lee Hooker over the massive speaker system.
I only had time for one of the shows,
You can see the details of the performers.
Les Getrex started his set with a tribute to Ray Charles, went into his own stuff, covered Boom Boom.
Deitra Farr
Right now

1. Between Indian wigs, bugs in the water, secular marraiges in Israel, I’ve really missed out on quite a bit.