That was the Barry Sisters singing Raindrops Keep Falling on my Head. In Yiddish. I got this and other pop culture/Jew culture fusions from the blog for the new book “And You Shall Know Us By The Train of Our Vinyl” – put out by Josh Kunn and, yes, almost inevitably, Roger Bennet:
Eight years ago, Roger Bennett and Josh Kun began an important journey, scouring the world to collect thousands of vinyl LPs from attics, garage sales, and dusty archives. Together, once-loved and now long-forgotten audio gems tell a vibrant tale: the story of Jews in America.
The blog is a collection of information and multimedia that does just that. Some of the results are spectacular – Chubby Checker’s re-recording of the Twist to the tune of Hava Nagilah, Lena Horne singing in Yiddish, Perry Como’s rendition of Kol Nidre etc. – other manifestations of this phenomena are bizarre – ie Hedva and David, an otherwise forgetabble 70’s era Israeli singing duo and their Japanese monster hit Naomi. Talk about cross cultural pollination – Shonen Knife have nothing on these people.
Now I love what these folks do. Roger’s been behind such groundbreaking and innovative works like Bar Mitzvah Disco, Camp Camp, Stereophonic Records, Reboot, Guilt and Pleasure and on and on… these manifestations of Judaism are, well, kinda corny. And maybe that’s the story of American Jewry – as Jews became more and more integrated into American culture, pop culture manifestations of Judaism reflected the overall Jewish community who had for the most part discraded the, you know, substance of Judaism in favor of the shmaltz. Now that the chickens have come to roost and contemporary Jewish culture has inevitably become bland and uninteresting – see the Forward 50 which is, except for one exception, as bland and uninspiring a list of Jews as I have ever seen – I think I am contemplating the uhm… end of the Jews as a force to be reckoned with in the US.
We’re quickly running out of money, our leadership is out of ideas and the next generation of leaders don’t care for the most part. There is one good thing though. Perhaps with the election of Barack Obama thanks in part to the strong support offered by the Jewish community, Black/Jewish musical collaborations can begin anew.
So when is the Kanye West Hanukka album coming out?