Sunday, August 31, 2008

My love Affair with Jewish Music

Some roll their eyes, a few are curious, and my wife laughs, but I can't seem to shake Jewish music. I love music, and I have about 150 gigabytes of it on my computer - two thirds of which are Jewish. And when I say Jewish music, I don't mean Neil Sedaka, or even Carlebach, I'm talkin' Lipa Schmeltzer, Avraham Freid, and Mordechai Ben David.

Don't get me wrong, I listen all kinds of music - everything from Opera to Eminem, but nothing does it for me like a zaftige new album from say - Shwekey, or Lev Tahor. I was excited to get Rihanna's new single, but The 8th Note made me rejoice, and while I love a good Michael Buble Shtickle, he could never satisfy me the way Ohad, or Baruch Levine can.

"How could you listen to that?" My wife asks me all the time, and I really don't have a good answer, I vehemently disagree with most of what is said in these songs, and often find myself laughing at what I'm saying when I sing along with them, yet I persist. As I type now, I'm listening to Yeedle's new album, (it's not bad).

It's gotten to the point where I don't even hide it anymore, and I've had to explain what the hell it is that I'm listening to-to more than one Lieutenant Colonel, (don't ask). I've even gotten a buddy of mine - who's Mexican and has never met a Chassidic Jew - hooked on The Yeshiva Boys Choir! At the gym in the morning, there's only so far you can go with the Rocky theme, but give me J-Walking, and I'm good for hours, and there's really nothing like pumping iron to The Chevra.

I listen to hours of podcasts weekly, but the one I look forward to most is The Sameach Music Podcast, and one of the web-sights I frequent most is The Jewish Music Review. I was highly disappointed - yet not surprised - when The Big Event was canceled, although I wouldn't have been able to attend, I was looking forward to the videos.

In other words I'm obsessed with Jewish music.

I do realize that if I where to have a conversation with any one of these Jewish music stars, I would be annoyed to no end by them, in fact I have met several of them, and I wouldn't want to associate myself willingly with them, but somehow when they put their words to a tune I can't get enough of it.

Growing up in the Chassidishe community, music was the only thing I whole heartedly embraced, while I didn't quite feel comfortable with many aspects of my upbringing, music always made me happy. And what a fan I was, I would go to every live show I could, memorized every detail about every Jewish music star, and built a huge CD collection. But I never paid much attention to what was being said, although I knew and understood all the lyrics, and I feel the same way now. For that reason, I can listen to Christian rock, The Gipsy Kings, or sappy love songs, and enjoy them, as long as the melody is nice, the musicianship is good, I can dig it.

Sometimes my wife will say things like "are you sure you don't agree with what their saying?" While she and I both know better, I still wonder - what is it that has me so hooked? Is it just that I grew up listening to this kind of music, or is there more to it?


Bonjour said...

I'm not quite the fan of Jewish music that you seem to be. If I never hear a Miami Boys Choir CD in my life, I think I could live with the loss without too much mourning. However, when I hear GOOD Jewish music, it seems to light up a whole bunch of happy neurons in my brain. If Kol Isha is not an issue with you (ha ha), give Rivka Krinsky a try:
"Never Too Far" is gorgeous!

Shaya Getzel said...

When I was younger, I begged my parents to allow me to join the MBC, but it was deemed too "modern".

Joodah said...

when you have performers who sing in a with a yiddish/chassidic accent, and when they go on stage, they dress in a streimel and bekseshe, but when they get off stage, change into jeans and a t-shirt and smoke, That always seemed a bit hypocritical to me.

Izgad said...

I admit to having a strong love/hate relationship with Jewish music. The Hasidic community puts out some legitimate good stuff, but most of everything else is simply non Jewish music in Kosher wrapping. For my money I might as well keep things honest and listen to non Jewish music.
I enjoy listening to Christian music. Listening to Christian music has the advantage that I do not have to be bothered if I find the theology behind the lyrics to be off; I don't believe in the religion now and I never did so it is no skin off of my back.

Pen Tivokeish said...

For me, I have difficulty finding music that I like in the wide world. Having said that, all the music that got to my "neshomoh" recently was secular.

However, I like to think that we can find they beauty of the song within any realm in the music world.

Anonymous said...

Have you tried any Mandy Patankin?
I heard Mamaloshen and loved it:) But then again, Im also a huge fan of Yentl and Fiddler on the Roof. What's funny is I actually HATE musicals - that is unless they're Jewish:) And i'm not even Jewish. LOL.

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