Oldies but Goodies 

We asked both veteran and younger singers and musicians which songs they personally never tire of playing and singing

 

True, there is always fresh material sweeping across the Jewish music scene, capturing the mood of the moment and soaring in playlist popularity. Wedding performers and guests on the dance floor thrive on the thrill of up-to-the-minute energetic tunes. But there are also the classics that continue to touch hearts and minds decades after they first played. We asked both veteran and younger singers and musicians which songs they personally never tire of playing and singing.

Apart in These Crazy Times

YITZY BERRY, Composer and arranger

The oldie that I’d pick would be Mrs. Dina Storch’s iconic “Someday,” made famous by MBD (JEP 4 — Someday). It’s a song full of hope that embraces you with anticipation of the bright, glorious days to come. Particularly now, as we spend so much time sitting apart and alone in these crazy times, it really speaks to me. We are all praying and hoping that “someday we will all be together.”

Keeping Together

HERSHY ROTTENBERG, Composer and kumzitz singer

There is a memorable Yiddish song titled “Ahavas Yisroel” on MBD’s Efshar Le’taken album — it might not exactly be classified as an “oldie,” but it’s a personal favorite of mine. The concept is beautiful — that when everyone joins together in love, no matter their status, great blessings will be bestowed and Geulah will come — and together with Lipa Schmeltzer’s warm, apt lyrics, the melody really brings a crowd in to sing along.

He’ll Pull Them Out

MICHOEL PRUZANSKY, Singer

I always find myself coming back to singing “Acheinu” by Avraham Fried (Forever One). There is something so profound about those words  — “Acheinu kol beis Yisrael, hanesunim batzarah… All our brothers of Klal Yisrael, trapped, held hostage, in danger, steeped in pain and tragedy… HaMakom yeracheim aleihem… Hashem will extricated them from darkness into light…” — together with Yossi Green’s composition and the way Avremel sings it in the original, that gets me every time.

More Than Crashing Waves

ABIE ROTENBERG, Composer, musician, singer

A favorite oldie of mine is “Mikolos Mayim Rabim.” The words of Dovid Hamelech (Tehillim 93) are so poetic and enlightening. Everyone knows that rushing water generates great noise and tumult. Whoever has witnessed the unstoppable might of a raging river, a gushing waterfall, or crashing waves cannot but marvel at its awesomeness — both audibly and visually. Yet, Hashem is so very much more powerful and greater. Adir bamarom Hashem.

[The melody for “Mikolos Mayim Rabim” is actually one of the niggunim of Rebbe Aharon of Karlin, also sung to the well-known Yiddish “Ven ich volt gehat koach… Shabbos heilige Shabbos — If I would have the strength I would run into the street and announce the holy Shabbos.” It was also used on JEP II with the English lyrics “One Peaceful Friday night.”] '

Full of Hartz

CHAIM MEIR FLIGMAN, Producer, Shir V’shevach boys’ choir

I love Yossi Green’s niggun for Yedid Nefesh, originally sung by Avraham Fried (We Are Ready), and later on Shwekey’s Hisorerus album. It’s full of hartz, and I can sing it at all sorts of venues. We’ve recently been using it for “Mi Bon Siach” at chuppahs, which is a great fit.

That Song Changed My Life

YISROEL LAMM, Conductor

When I was in elementary school in Yeshivah Torah Vodaath, we had a weekly music class where Mr. Horowitz, our music teacher, played accordion and taught us Jewish songs. My favorite was the classic “Kareiv Yom,” from the Haggadah, which made a strong impression on me. It was hearing him play and sing that song that made me realize, for the first time, that I loved music! I don’t remember ever meeting Mr. Horowitz since then, but if he’s out there reading this, I’d like to send a big yasher koyach!

At My Own Chuppah

SHLOIME DACHS, Singer and band leader

My favorite “golden oldie” of all time is the slow, moving “Al Tira” composed by Yerachmiel Begun (Toronto Pirchei) in the 1970s. I’ve sung that melody under hundreds of chuppahs over the years, and actually had it sung at my own chuppah as well.

Still Special

MOSHE LAUFER, Composer and arranger

I still love to sing “Berogez Racheim Tizkor,” composed by Rabbi Baruch Chait, originally performed on Kol Salonika 5, and later sung by MBD on The Double Album. It’s a very emotional song that has remained special to me all these years.

Still a Part of It

JOEY NEWCOMB, Singer and songwriter

I can never tire of Abie Rotenberg’s beautiful “Joe DiMaggio’s Card” (Journeys Three). To me, that song represents the yeshivah boy who couldn’t quite make it to success in the school system, but ends up having a cheilek in it from his own world. Worth keeping in mind.

Timeless on All Fronts

YITZCHOK ROSENTHAL, Composer, Shalsheles

There are way too many older songs I love to be able to choose just one. That said, “Lema’an Achai” by Shlomo Carlebach stands out for me as a song that has every key element: It’s uplifting, easy enough to sing at any time, and absolutely timeless. It has always been a kumzitz favorite, even half a century after it emerged.

Reach into Your Pocket

Bentzi MARCUS, 8th Day

A song that has never lost its power over me with time, and one I still love to sing, would be Megama’s “Beggar Woman.” It drew me so much that we actually covered it on our Chasing Prophecy album. This was a family favorite when we were growing up, and the message is a simple and powerful one. Great lyrics! From the opening line, “Today she was sitting on the street, sorrow in her eyes, a tin can at her feet…” until the end — about giving and knowing what to be thankful for — it’s a timeless classic.

This One Never Gets Old

MEIR ADLER, Musician

I love to sing the Karliner “Kah Echsof,” which is a niggun I use at almost every chuppah. Its beauty and warmth uplifts you to the heavens, each time anew, even though it has been sung for so many years. It’s almost always accompanied by a tear or two.

 

(Originally featured in Mishpacha, Issue 845)

Acheinu
Avraham Fried
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