| The Moment |

Song of the Season Contest: THE WINNERS

With over 150 submissions, we had a hard time winnowing down the finalists

W

 

hen we launched a contest asking readers to create new COVID-related lyrics to songs we know and love, we never anticipated the outpouring of talent, creativity, wit, and musicality that resulted. We know are readers are intelligent, thinking, and discerning, the type of people we want to (and do) have a conversation with every week. But we didn’t realize how many of you are talented lyricists as well!

Most of the songs mentioned the same themes. There were at least a dozen songs about Zoom learning, lots of choruses featuring overwhelmed parents, and many calls for “Together.”

Since the lyrics were in English, Abie Rotenberg’s songs got the most traction. (We did get at least one Yiddish submission though!) With over 150 submissions, we had a hard time winnowing down the finalists. Some of the qualities we looked for:

  • Lyrics that closely matched the rhythm, meter, and structure of the originals — we and/or our families tried singing your lyrics to see how well they fit the tune
  • Wit and humor, or drama and pathos, that reflect what we’ve all been experiencing during the pandemic
  • A good feel for language, a flair for expression, that extra dash of creativity or perfect word or phrase

Here are our top choices, the finalists who managed to deliver fantastic lyrics that just might replace the ones you’ve been singing until now, along with the comments of two of our judges, Yisroel Besser and Shana Friedman.

But that’s not all… here at mishpacha.com you can watch some of your favorite singers take a turn with the new lyrics. Keep singing!

WATCH THE STARS JOIN THE FUN!

 

"We’ve Got the Children"

TTTO "We’ve Got the Music" (from Abie Rotenberg’s Journeys 3)

Submitted by: Family Katz, Jerusalem

Opening narration:

As long as there has been a Jewish nation, the chinuch of our children has been an integral component of its history and culture. From the yeshivos of Sura and Pumbedisa, echoing down the years to the hallowed halls of Volozhin, Slabodka, Mir, and many others, to the humble rooms in a Krakow seamstress’s shop. From the alef-beis of preschool, to the intensive studies in beis medrash and seminary. But in the past few months, there’s been a shift in our educational frameworks....

From conference calls to class on Zoom,
The Shabbos table turned to classroom,
Every house now a homeschool,
At least no worries about carpool....
Each kid now needs their own phone line,
For all the work they got assigned,
And what to do when lines are down?
And our homes don’t come with a playground....
Common Core — I can’t help you/ Here, just carry over the two,
Oh, I remember learning this/ Or maybe that was a day I missed,
How can you be hungry so soon?/ You’ve eaten five times, it’s only noon,
We love each and every child/ Even when they’re going wild, going wild, GOING WILD
Yes, we’ve got the children,
Stuck at home all day,
There’s nothing like their rebbeim,
They deserve much higher pay!
Yes, we’ve got the children,
Stuck at home all day,
There’s nothing like their morahs,
They deserve much higher pay!

SF: One of the great things about this submission was the way the lyrics echoed that unexpected contrast between Abie Rotenberg’s uber-serious opening narrative and the light feel of the rest of the song. We also loved the bits that reminded us of the original (“going wild, going wild”). If this would be the Olympics, we’d take points off for words that need to be contorted from their proper pronunciation in order to fit the tune — like “classroom” and “playground” — ideally you shouldn’t have to emphasize the wrong syllable for a song to work. All in all, this was a great concept that really captured the frenetic, overwhelmed feeling of so many parents these days.

 

"The COVID Song"

TTTO "The Simcha Song" (from Miami Boys Choir's The Simcha Song)

Submitted by: Family Wolf, Toronto, Canada

Let’s hear the COVID Song,
Let’s sing the COVID Song,
Come on and join along!
Wash! Glove! Mask!
Separation as we make our way,
Down the street on this endless day,
The confusion we’re feeling in the air,
As the masked man’s drawing near.
We’re hoping our friends and family,
Will be outdoors for us to see,
Yes the mitzvah of staying away is great,
Let’s keep safe and separate.
We will dance to the music as we wait
For the host to come,
We will sing hoping we’re on mute
With joy and fun!
Join and clap to the beat and feel
the rhythm, oh so strong,
capture the meaning of The COVID Song!
How we are waiting for this to leave at last,
Can’t imagine all the weeks that passed,
Soon it will be nothing but a memory,
But now all we want is to be free!

SF: This was a cute MBC spoof that captured not only the rhythm but also a lot of the nuances of typical MBC songs. In this case the stress on the wrong syllable in “family” and “memory” felt right — it’s something you find in other MBC songs. The short one-syllable words fits the style too. And the opening line “Separation as we make our way/down the street” just brings you right into the MBC mood — you can envision a kid holding a mike with one hand and gesturing you to follow him as he struts across an imaginary street along with the choir.

 

"7 Little Kids"

TTTO "7 Little Kids" (from Country Yossi’s Still on the Loose)

Submitted by: Family Lazarus, Clifton, NJ

7 little kids, logging onto Zoom class
making me meshuga in the head
I said can’t you kids behave
until school's done
and this is what my biggest kid said
Better help us, Dad 1, 2, 3
Moshe Chaim lost connection
Usher Zelig spilled his sheets
and Malky said you better find the charger quick
Yitz has a black screen
and Rivky says she’s muted
and Mommy thinks she’s gonna be sick
Get us out of quarantine quick!!

YB: I think what made this so special was the way they took a song of the ’80s — which, like all Country Yossi songs, was so reflective of the times, real and cute and completely free of heavy-handed preaching — and maintained that flavor, updating it to 2020.

 

"I Have To Be"

TTTO Yaakov Shwekey’s single “I Can Be”

Submitted by: Ahuva Kerzner, Montreal, Canada

Oy, here’s my child
It’s 6 a.m. and she’s bouncing with energy
Laughter and smiles
But all I want is to go back
to sleep
In my Corona world
They always need me
I pry open my eyes and know that
Chorus:
I have to be the mother
I have to be the teacher
I have to be, I have to be everything
How much can they expect of me
Oooh
How much can they expect of me
I’ll have to be the cook
I’ll have to be the cleaning lady
Running on zero
Everything they need has to come from me
Has to come from me.
They’re always wired
And they test my patience
ten million ways
I’m so, so tired
We’ve been doing this
for 72 days
But then I realize
That He believes in me
I thank Him for His love
and know that
Chorus:
I can be the mother
I can be the teacher
I can be, I can be anything
As long as He is helping me
Oooh
As long as He is helping me
I can be their cook
I can be their cleaning lady
I can be a hero
Everything they need
Is inside of me
Is inside of me.
Life with the people we love
In quarantine, is a struggle
We can only do it, with help from Above
Life with the people we love
In quarantine, is a struggle
We can only do it,
with help from Above
Na, na, na, na, na, na, na Oooohhh
Chorus:
I can be the mother
I can be the teacher
I can be, I can be anything
As long as He is helping me
Oooh
As long as He is helping me
I can be the cook
I can be the cleaning lady
I can be a hero
Everything they need
Is inside of me.
I can be the mother
I can be the teacher
I can be, I can be anything
As long as He is helping me
Oooh
As long as He is helping me
I can be the cook
I can be the cleaning lady
I can be a hero
Everything, I can...
‘Cause He believes....
‘Cause He believes in me!

SF: Like some of the best songs, this one has a plot and movement — the words don’t just describe a slice of reality, but show how a person grows from a situation and changes perspective. This entry is also true to the concept of the original song — first seeing a situation as impossible, then drawing strength from internal reservoirs and Hashem to overcome the odds. I’d give extra credit for the line “Running on zero” — brilliant echo of the original line “I am a hero.”

"Corona Blues"

TTTO "Pesach Blues" (from Abie Rotenberg's Journeys 3)

Submitted by: Idy Marmorstein, Hollywood, FL

Do you remember the holiday of Purim?
‘Twas a great time, spent with neighbors and friends
But they canceled school and shul right after
And everything went downhill from then
Every bone in my body started shakin’
And I broke out in a cold, cold sweat
All my muscles were tired and achin’
Cause I’d never made Pesach yet
I’ve got the here comes corona blues
Every human on this earth seems confused
And my heart keeps pounding
And my brain feels numb
And everyone’s talkin ‘bout when Mashiach will come
I’ve got the here comes corona blues
Oh yeah! I’ve got the here comes corona blues
I keep making orders for Target drive-up
And Amazon knows my door by heart
My mask keeps fogging up my glasses
It’s not my fault, I’m just playing my part
And when I’m finally done with all the dishes
And I lie down for a five-minute rest
My 8-year-old calls for help ’cuz his Zoom meeting froze
While his twin begins to add to the mess
I’ve got the here comes corona blues
Every human on this earth seems confused
I’d like to lay down my mop
And hit the sack
Can I please have my cleaning lady back?
I’ve got the here comes corona blues
Oh yeah! I’ve got the here comes corona blues
I haven’t even mentioned all the cookin’
The meals and snacks that never do stop
All the homemade pizzas, pretzels, omelets, hot dogs
And still, they’re starving; I just might pop
There’s one more thing that’s really quite confusin’
And an answer to this question would be nice
Can someone tell me why the same yeast we buy all through the year
Can’t be found at any a price?
I’ve got the here comes corona blues
Every human on this earth seems confused
When a friend passes by, I run to the door
It seems like I haven’t seen a person before
I’ve got the here comes corona blues
Oh yeah! I’ve got the here comes corona blues
Now the purpose of this song is just to question
When will they end social distancing?
All this craziness is beyond my comprehension
But I’ll do it till a vaccine they bring
All I’m asking is for some cooperation
From those in charge, I request if I may
Is it too much to ask for one little thing
That school begin by Labor Day
I’ve got the here comes corona blues
Every human on this earth seems confused
And my heart keeps pounding
And my brain feels numb
Just wondering when my stimulus check will come
I’ve got the here comes corona blues
Oh yeah! I’ve got the here comes corona blues

SF: We loved this submission because just like the original, it managed to capture so many of the details of our experience, with shout-outs to Amazon deliveries, glasses fogging up, stimulus checks, and all the talk of Mashiach. It also had a perfect blend of the original words with new references, and these new lyrics broadcast the same kvetching-while-submitting-to-reality vibe that made the original such a keeper.

 

"Zeidy Come Home"

TTTO “Daddy Come Home” (from Yeshivah Boys Choir 5)

Submitted by: Family Rottenberg, Spring Valley, NY

Normal’s been gone,
Gone for so long,
For it I pray.
There is a war,
And they’re looking for a cure,
Somewhere far away.
They promised us we’d return,
In school and yeshivos to learn,
So here we wait.
The blessings I recite,
At the empty Seder night,
But it’s getting late.
Zeidy, come home,
Stay with me,
Let me hold your hands,
Let me sit upon your knee,
I see fear,
In the elders' eyes,
Every time you cry,
I’ll call and Skype with you.
It’s boring here at home,
My mind begins to roam,
How I miss shul.
I hear the phone,
Mommy’s mournful moan,
“I’M FED UP, WHEN IS SCHOOL?!”
Bubby, come home,
Stay with me,
Let me hold your hands,
Let me sit upon your knee,
I see fear,
In the elders’ eyes,
Every time you cry,
I’ll call and Skype with you.

SF: We liked this submission because it channeled our feelings for all the lonely bubbies and zeidies from the perspective of a child who just wants to spend time with the people who love him. The lyrics aren’t fancy or highfalutin, but neither are those of the original, and that’s what makes them charming and authentic.

 

"Come On and Quarantine"

TTTO “Ride the Train” (from Abie Rotenberg's Journeys 2)

Submitted by: Rochel Schechter, Lakewood, NJ

Come on and quarantine,
Step outside, you get a ticket — instead stay in, unseen.
This may be going for a while, perhaps sit back and try to smile, stay
Hiding, hiding, hiding in quarantine.
(come on and ride...)
And you’re looking at statistics, and you don’t know what they mean,
Will it help to take a dose of hydroxychloroquine?
How can we help to make the steepened curve start to go flat?
And is it really all the fault of a Wuhan market bat?
(come on...)
So you ask an older specialist how long will this craze be?
He says, “Sorry son, I can’t say, there is no guarantee.
It might be the next decade or further down the line,
but maybe if we’re lucky a vaccine will come out in less time.”
(come on…)
Then you take a walk all through the house, each square inch one by one,
most are filled with children whining, “School was much more fun.”
How think about tomorrow when today I’ve lost my head?!
Lie back and close my eyes, I wanna wait this out in bed.
But one camp seems so different, a view taken by few;
Who say this is a time to think — about who’s really you
Think of a choice you’ll make today, and how it’s gonna last,
So COVID 19 will not be, just history gone past.

SF: This submission is outstanding — and not just because of the bonus rhyme of “quarantine” with “hydroxychloroquine.” It has so many great lines and references to our new reality — the Wuhan bat, the curve that must be flattened. And then there’s the “hiding, hiding, hiding” refrain that’s such a perfect parallel of the original “riding, riding, riding.” But the cherry on top is definitely the last stanza. Just like the original, where the tempo slows and a wise, contemplative tone overtakes the driving rhythm, this stanza has the take-home mussar message of the entire experience.

 

"Our Minyanim"

TTTO “Minyan Man” (from Shlock Rock’s Jewish Pride)

Submitted by: Benzion Scheinfeld, Bergenfield, NJ

I sat at home,
in Teaneck, New Jersey
The sun was slowly setting, towards PA
It was six o’clock on a March Friday afternoon
Shabbos was an hour away
I walked around my house wondering what to do
Cause Shabbos is no time to be feeling blue
The block was filled with Jews, quarantined in their homes
and I was forced to daven, alone
I asked the man I saw how many shuls in this town
He said to me, there used to be, so MANY around
But the virus has come,
and we’ve shut them all down
Not even to say Kaddish,
can a minyan be found
(Original Line: Help us Hashem so we can praise you in crowds)
Oh Hashem, please help bring back, our min-yanim
It started in China,
a place so far away
Who thought it would come to the US of A
But sadly it spread,
so swiftly and quick
And many people,
soon became sick
But the world has mobilized,
to help save the weak
The sacrifice and chesed,
is so special to see
Our health care workers,
work bravely each day
For their health and safety,
we constantly pray
I asked the man I saw how many shuls in this town
He said to me their used to be so MANY around
But the virus has come,
and we’ve shut them all down
Not even to say Kaddish,
can a minyan be found
Oh Hashem, please help bring back, our min-yanim
So, please Hashem,
help us vanquish this foe
So back to our learning,
and our shuls we can go
Who ever thought,
that this could be
Torah Scrolls on Shabbos,
we won’t see
We are trying our best,
to do what we can
But we need your help,
some Heavenly plan
To stop all the sadness,
and madness and pain
And bring joy, to the world,
once again

YB: There is something so evocative in the original song. Anyone who’s ever walked into a shul and seen a few waiting for a minyan — the longing, hope, optimism, and determination — connects to those words. It was an anthem of so many once-glorious shuls that saw their congregations dwindle and wane and disappear, the power of memories, especially shul memories.

And suddenly, we, in our 2020 shul-on-every-corner minyan-app Maariv-till-three-a.m.-world were cut off from shul. It was unthinkable. No shortage of people for a minyan and plenty of space — but the shuls were locked.

And we were left yearning. This song delivers the original emotion with the updated lyrics, Jewish wishing, and hoping for a minyan.

 

"Zoom No More"

TTTO “Cry No More” (from Yaakov Shwekey’s Cry No More)

Submitted by: Shaindy Stewart, Los Angeles, CA

The posters on the walls now guard the silent halls
Please, no more
A yet unfinished test
still lying on a desk
Please, no more
Now this time has come,
a challenge for us all together
Feels like it’s forever more
Lessons convoluted,
kids are being muted,
Please no more
Passwords are expected,
screens say Disconnected,
Please no more
We yearn for the way we learned, return and stay this time forever
Fill our halls with song again
Zoom no more, Yaldei Yisrael
Nakoom once more, Yaldei Yisrael
We need to see you live again
Reach out and say
shalom aleichem
And then we’ll zoom no more, Yaldei Yisrael
Method may have changed,
the Torah stays the same
Forever more
Each holy word I teach,
I daven it will reach
Forever more
Through screens and over phones, together we will stay connected
Until we see you all once more
Zoom no more, Yaldei Yisrael
Nakoom once more, Yaldei Yisrael
We need to see you live again
Reach out and say shalom aleichem
And then we’ll zoom no more, Yaldei Yisrael

SF: This submission not only talked about Zoom, it managed to capture everyone’s frustration with distance-learning while including a hopeful message for the future. Extra points for the skillful internal rhyme — “convoluted” and “muted,” “expected” and “disconnected.” If only we could find a better option for “Nakoom” — there must some word in English that would work well. “In one room”? “Soon”? Come to think of it, the original words weren’t a perfect rhyme either — “Cry” and “Shine” — so maybe someone can find a creative substitute to make this a winner….

"Not Working"

TTTO “I’m Not Working on Shabbos" (From Rabbi Shmuel Kunda’s When Zaidy Was Young)

Submitted by: Nechama Berger, Lakewood, NJ

I don’t care what my boss says to me
I can’t work with my kids home
Even if my boss will fire me
I cannot work this way
Even if my boss becomes annoyed
I can’t work with my kids home
I’ll just join the hordes of unemployed
Getting government pay
You can call me a fool,
but my kids have no school
And I can’t work with my kids home
Even if I go broke, to me it’s a joke
To think I’m working this way

SF: This was one of many, many Kunda spoofs we received. Heshy Himmelstein and Chananya Yom Tov Lipa could never have predicted a national lockdown in their wildest plots, but their songs seem to be eminently adaptable to our surrealistic reality. This song had some great lyrics — “annoyed” and “unemployed” — and a perky, “don’t care what they say” honesty that’s true to the original.

"Still Trying"

TTTO “The Ninth Man” (from Abie Rotenberg's Journeys 1)

Submitted by: Aaron Breslin, Edison, NJ

I’m sure you all remember us,
We’re back again once more
This time we’re standing on the marks
6 feet across the floor
We’ve only got 3 laptops
And we gotta share them all
Cause me, my wife and my 12 kids
Gotta get on our Zoom call
Rebbe tries to teach us Torah
each and every day
He accidentally mutes himself,
and then he tries to say
“Can anybody hear me?”
And he always forgets
To change the background
on his screen
To the study.....from the Mets.

YB: This song was used by several participants, all very creatively. This submission stood out by how it remained faithful to the original lyrics, the original fun flavor, and extra special, kept that classic final word….saluting the Mets!

 

"The Shadchan Said"

TTTO “The Shadchan” (from Abie Rotenberg's Journeys 1)

Submitted by: Malkiah Engelsberg, Baltimore, MD

Because the shadchan said,
Six feet is not so awkward,
He’s never ever said such words before.
And their backyard’s nice,
Oh, the wedding could be special,
I said all right, I hope it doesn’t pour.

SF: We got more than one “shadchan” submission (and there was even a version in the Kichels last week). This was a cute one that fits the tune perfectly and is a musical sign of the times. How could we not include it?

 

"Someday"

TTTO MBD’s “Someday” (from JEP 4)

Submitted by: Golda Goldberg, Baltimore, MD

I sit in my bedroom all alone
Just me, my Chumash and my phone
When in walks my sister
and to my dismay
She needs to call her teacher right away
I do my best and I daven
I ask Hashem,
please bring those old times back
When together we’d learn Torah
With my rebbi and my friends
When will this lockdown
finally end?
Someday we will all be together
Someday we can carpool once more
Never will we have to express any fear
COVID-19 will disappear
Our rebbis and morahs will be there to greet us
No one will tell us to sanitize
Our unmasked menahel will greet us once again
In our dear cheder, b’ezras Hashem.

YB: I don’t have data, but Nachum Segal once told me that this is the most requested English song in recent Jewish history. It was certainly popular among our contestants. Someday — the word itself — is the national cry of a Yid, the bayom hahu we say three times each day at the end of the tefillah… some day. The original song captured that in its tune, and this one managed to take that same feeling and transfer it to these updated lyrics.

 

"Dear Brother"

TTTO “Conversations in the Womb” (from Abie Rotenberg's Journeys 1)

Submitted by: Shmuel Botnick, Cincinnati, OH

My dear brother
Look around and tell me
what your eyes behold
To avoid COVID-19
We are stuck in quarantine
We must obey everything that we are told
We must obey everything that we are told
But dear brother
You will surely find when all is set and done
That they soon will find the cure
And Purell doesn’t keep you pure
So why not calm down and have a little fun
Yes please calm down and have a little fun
My dear brother
I am sorry but you’re acting like a clown
What you’re saying is outrageous
Corona’s deadly and contagious
The Vaad may have to throw you out of town
Oh, the Vaad may have to throw you out of town
But dear brother
Please don’t believe that everything they say is true
Don’t be so glum and grouchy
Just ignore old Dr. Fauci
Corona is not much worse than the flu
Oh, corona is not much worse than the flu
My dear brother
Where have you gone, is this the moment I have known?
The door’s slightly ajar
In the driveway there’s no car
It’s all over, I must now quarantine alone
It’s all over, I must now quarantine alone
But dear brother
I apologize but this time you are wrong
You see I know you tried your best
But I took the antibody test
It turns out that we had it all along
Oh, it turns out that we had it all along

SF: Before we say anything else, how great is the grouchy/Fauci rhyme? And that’s not the only great thing about this submission. It transposes the too much/not enough corona conflict that’s been plaguing our community to the dramatic “Conversations in the Womb” and gives voices to the doubters, the doomsdayers, and the double-downers. There’s Purell, there’s the Vaad, and there’s the “corona is no worse than the flu.” Best of all is the ironic ending. May all these disputes be behind us very soon!

 

THE WINNING SUBMISSIONS:

First Place:
Our pick for first place was Rochel Schechter's new lyrics to “Ride the Train.”

 

Runners-up:
Our two picks for second place were the corona versions of “I Can Be” and “Minyan Man.”

 

Congratulations to the winners and great work to all the contestants!

 

(Originally featured in Mishpacha, Issue 815)

 

Oops! We could not locate your form.