Isaac Kaplan

"Is it any wonder I've got too much time on my hands?"

Tuesday, June 08, 2004

JEWISH MUSIC: Carlebach and the Beatles

When I was in Israel, like all too many other 18-year olds, I tried quitting goyishe music. I figured the best way to go was not by quitting music altogether, but rather by trying to find some Jewish music that would satisfy me and my desires. Joey Levin's old Avraham Fried CD's were helpful for a while, but I still felt like I needed my fix. So I figured, hey maybe a Jewish artist with a more hip, cool, guitar-based style will be it. So to Carlebach, and, as I like to call it, the "crack-pot" section of Galpaz was where I headed.

Maybe I'm crazy, maybe I have no taste in music, maybe I'm just a bad Jew, but Carlebach didn't do it for me. I boght a few of his tapes and CD's, and while I enjoyed some of the stuff, it just didn't have that lasting power.

One standard with which I like to judge music is by how long I can listen to it and enjoy it without getting sick of it. If I buy a CD, listen to it for a few months, and only play it when I'm feeling like "maybe I should get my $15 worth," then I know it's a failure. However, the bands that I've liked since high school are the ones that impress me the most. For me, artists like the Beatles, Led Zeppelin, U2, and Bon Jovi have stuff that I can keep and have kept listening to.

In the case of Carlebach, I enjoyed the stuff for a little while, (even though my roomates gave me a hard time -- they called the stuff depressing) but I have barely listened to it since then. Which led me the question --- the one that many think borders on k'firah--- is Carlebach overrated?

The comparison in the title was to bring out a point my cousin made about the Beatles. She said, "the Beatles weren't that good. They're just famous because they revolutionized music." Although I disagree about the Beatles, I have a feeling this argument is true when it comes to Carlebach.

One question that comes to mind is, if another artist recorded this song, would it be as famous? If Emerson, Lake, and Palmer recorded "Come Together," would it have been anywhere as successful? And if Simcha Weber had done "Ki Va Moed," would only the die-hard Jewish music fans know about it?

That's all for now because this one is complicated and I've gotta study. Later.


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