Tuesday, February 21, 2023

A Facebook Post From April 29, 2018


Ten Albums That Are Meaningful to Me
My brother tagged me in favorite album challenge. The rule is that you're supposed to share one a day for ten days and tag someone each time you share and then they have to do the same thing. Me being (INFP) me, I'll do this my own way.
My favorites can change from moment to moment. (One of the more beautiful things I ever heard was at a funeral. A mourner said that she couldn't easily tell you her favorite of anything without modifying and explaining it - ut if you asked her who her favorite person in the world was she wouldn't hesitate. She would just tell you that it was her mom.) Favorites are hard. So these won't be my favorites. These are contenders, albums (does anyone remember albums?) that come to mind as meaningful for me.
1. Keep It Together, Guster - This is a relatively new album and group for someone in my age bracket. For me and my contemporaries the seventies doesn't feel like forty plus years ago. So the nineties doesn't feel like twenty years ago. I discovered Guster through The LeeVees, who are a duo that made a fantastic Chanukah album (and half of that duo is in Guster.) Guster's styles vary, and I like pretty much all of their albums and sounds. This one was their most recent when I discovered them and it has a lot of their big songs on it. But like many of these album choices will be, it's a bit random - and it's followed closely by others of theirs including their many live collections, particularly the ones with the classical accompaniment.
2. Time To Dance 2 - I bought this at Schaller's book store as a gift for my mom, circa 1982. It features well done instrumental Jewish music that does not have the kind of Las Vegas-ey sound of so much of the most popular Jewish music. It's a class act. It has many beautiful Chasidish tunes, such as an achingly gorgeous rendition of the Baruch Kel Elyon that people call the dirge. There's one part of the album in particular that I carry with me because it so blew me away. The have a long piece of Jewish songs that sound similar to classical pieces like Scheherazade. Haraman Hu Yizakeinu is paired with a classical piece it resembles. I remember the piece but don't know its name. That album brought me a lot of joy. For a long time I owned the cassette of it, which I played over and over.
3. Quadrophenia, The Who - I don't remember exactly, for sure, how I found The Who, I think from the radio. I went back and bought an earlier album that I had heard was their best, Quadrophenia. I remember my youth leader and friend telling me that the refrain from the album was "Can You See The real me?" I didn't experience that as the refrain, but it's a great song, like so many others on the album. It's more of a masterpiece than Tommy. They have so much good stuff, but this is their best. And it's meaningful for me because they were one of the first and only rock groups of my childhood that I chose as mine, and not just a group i liked after discovering them through my older brother.
4. Gifts from Heaven, Shoshannah - I've said, and stand by it, that if I had to pick one desert island album this would be it. So beautiful. Sounds like so many people performing, when it's the piano playing of one person. It's all instrumental, channeling Reb Shlomo and other classics, while interpreting them as well. When I met Shoshanah I asked if she was THE Shoshannah, and I started humming my favorite (opening) tune from the album. She was flattered. I've listened to this myriad times. Listening to it is, for me, an experience of elevation. I am glad that this album is there as background music for my life. And I'm grateful that I was able to tell the artist how much her music meant to me. May her neshama go ever higher.
5. Bursting Out, Jethro Tull - I discovered them through Songs From the Wood, which was followed by the album of outtakes from that album, Heavy Horses. Then I saw them at "The Garden" twice. All this happened while I was in high school. My first big rock concerts. Bursting Out came out during these same few years and I brought it with me to Israel, post HS. i remember one of my 3 roommates begging me to turn off the long drum solo at bed time. It's a live album of greatest hits up till that point, masterfully done.
6. Shlomo Carlebach Album I Don't Know Name Of - It has the story of him performing at a Catholic School and being approached by a Jewish girl wearing a Jewish star... I may be conflating more than one album. I think it has Pe'er VeKavod on it, and Samcheim. It's an Israeli concert at which he speaks in Hebrew. There are so many recordings of his that have been meaningful to me in my llife. this one reminds me of the 5 and a half years I lived in Israel as a yeshiva student. And it reminds me of some dear friends who shared my love of this music at that time.
7. Storyteller, Ray Davies - This was the inspiration for the VHS show. And it was an album. It has great renditions of old songs with patter that goes a long way. And I like the title song. This choice is emblematic of the many albums and songs of The Kinks that I really like. The depth of feeling, getting greyness, nostalgia, beautiful lyrics. amazing sound. Maybe I should have picked an actual Kinks album, but this will do.
8. THE YESS LEGACY, A TRIBUTE TO THE MUSIC OF MOSHE YESS - I could and maybe should have gone with "G-d Is Alive And Well In Jerusalem," or another Megama Duo album. But Moshe Yess was the genius behind it all, and this includes 30 songs sung by others paying respect to (and raising money for) his legacy. One of my favorites, Sukkos In Jerusalem, which he played live for just me and my dad, is not on this album - like many of his songs, it's hard to find. but these songs remind me of that one and others that aren't here. His originals are hard to find. They're better than this (not always, but usually - because his sincerity shined through) but this does a good job of keeping his music alive in my life.
9. Pink Pearl, Jill Sobule - One of the first times I listened to Idiot's Delight I was taken by Vin Scelsa's conversation with Jill about how I Will Survive had become a campfire song. Her newest album was Pink Pearl. I got it and was moved by Rock Me To Sleep and others. She's one of a kind. She did Kickstarter before there was Kickstarter. There are other albums of hers that are great, but this one is the one that started it all for me, and has so many of the slow and beautiful ones that really affect me.
10. Dveykus 1 (Though I think of 1,2,3 as a unit) - Before this I didn't know that there was music on such a different end of the spectrum from Mordechai ben David. In yeshiva I listened to this over and obver again. it was like I'd discovered oxygen. They lose me on their fast songs. but their slow ones are beyond this world. (I like all their albums and I consider the Journeys series
a close cousin that I also love.)
There's much more to say. I want to just add that today I don't listen to albums so much. I listen to Spotify and Pandora and they have introduced me to many groups and songs that are similar to ones I already knew and liked. I am pleased that I don't only listen to the music of my youth (even though the more recent music I like, I like because it sounds like the music of my youth).


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