I’ve begun noticing a troublesome trend in our community. When I was growing up a lot more of what’s considered secular was accepted and acceptable. Television, radio, secular newspapers, interactions with non Jews and non Orthodox was more commonplace. Along with our communities coming of age it’s finding a more secure footing and a secure perch to set its own agenda. We’ve thus become more insulated more sure of ourselves in that we feel secure enough to turn more insular. And so we’ve vaccum packed our community and sucked out all outside influences.
Parallel to this phenomenon we’ve also embraced an unrestrained indulgence of whatever it is that’s allowed to us. And so one can find every conceivable restaurant genre Kosher leMehadrin. One sees unrestrained exuberance in the guise of houses, cars and other luxuries. The concept of Kadesh Atzmecha BeMuter Loch Sanctify yourself even in that thats permitted to you) is a thing of the past. The ideas of restraint for the sake of restraint for the sake of auster simplicity are viewed with disdain and pity. What we are left with is a youth with anemic and weak moral muscles. Think about it. If the forbidden is out of bounds and the permitted is indulged what’s left? Where is the moral middle ground? What happens when this youth suddenly enters a wokrforce and is confronted with real moral dillemas in real life situations?
I’m sick and tired of reading Jewish Music reviews and critiques. How many people have been duped into buying a new album expecting an “exciting, fresh new sound” only to hear the same tired old music? Have you ever read a bad review? There’s a fundamental problem with Jewish Music which I call The Great Disconnect. Music is about conveying an emotion. Joy..sadness..longing...love...etc. There is the heart of the artist and the ears and heart of listener and this conduit called music. This pipe that let's you feel something the artist feels... The more barriers placed between heart to heart the less the emotional impact. The proverbial “box” is the greatest barrier. The more one has to conform and work inside the box the thicker the barrier. Take this wonderful new song by the Plain White T’s. Just a guy and his guitar singing about the girl he loves. The line is so straight from heart to heart... In Jewish music there are all all the preconceptions of how songs should be... Guitar then brass intro for the fast songs then settling into the Jewish beat... (insert voice here) low part 2 times high part 2 times.. Same vocal shtik.. In slow songs..you have the piano on the low part first time around then the slow beat second time around..saxophone...yaaawn Lyrics plucked from the grand old Jewish lyric book Same ol components pieced together.. The box is so stifling. Who said it has to be like that? By the time anything reaches your ear its a shadow of emotion. I want someone who just sings and creates emotion and doesn’t follow any rules... Just whatever the song calls for. The music should support the vocals not overshadow them. Just like in that songs above.. Who says you need an intro? Its so absurd... Back to Hey There Delilah... Guitar sets a mood...cello toward the end reflects the longing. Its just wonderfully simple. Not one extra instrument or note.. No extra trumpets or frivolous solos, just because that’s just what’s expected...
Having said that there is some good Jewish music that follows the heart to heart out of the box track like Chazzonus and Old time Chassidish songs that emanate a real joy.
piles and piles..of unwritten.. poems...of winter.. and cold..snow... languishing... deep in the recesses of my mind... uttelry confused.. not amused.. at sights.. unsense.. of..of.. sleeveless shirts in mid February.. black crosses..ashed.. on random foreheads.. stop looking at me I didnt kill your God.. nor his son... naked cowboy...did there he is...go talk to him.. strumming...in brief.. in lieu of fig leaf.. Its february... in New York How much longer.. until the daffodils pop out?