Thursday, December 13, 2007

The truth about music (pretentious, I know)

What's the easiest humor to write, shtuff that makes fun of yourself or shtuff that makes fun of other people? This question occurred to me because I just read a humorous book which consisted mostly of self-deprecating laughs. Just wondering.
There's an important issue which I've never really touched, whether out of laziness or whatever, but now I'm going to, because why not? Presenting, for the first time ever, [Warning! Corny] (Drum roll please...) The Real Shliach's Jewish Music Extravaganza! Yay! The question is, how far will you go? Most of us will listen to Avraham Fried and Mordechai Ben David. They're Kosher, right? What about when MBD sings to the tunes of non-Jewish music? Yidden, Pharoah in Mitzrayim, Daddy Dear, and who knows what else. Are these all right? How about the rest of his music? Has that been tainted? And if he's ok, then obviously there's no problem with Piamenta singing Asher Bara, right? And when they play Jimmy Hendrix? Is there a problem with that? Skipping through all the Yeshivish garbage, how about Lipa and Nisht Shabbos Geredt, or even Gelt? Abi Meleibt? Matisyahu? Maybe his own stuff, but the covers of Goyishe songs? How 'bout Carlebach? Other people singing Reb Shlomo's songs? Gershon Veroba's "Variations"? Shlock Rock?
I'm sure you could think up countless other examples, but these are the only which come to mind right now. My personal standards are not the point of this blog, but I'd like to say up front that they're hypocritical. Which is all right. We'll get to that later.
At the top rung of Jewish music is the holy shtuff, Niggunim. Obviously I hold of Lubavitch, but I won't discriminate. If there's a guy, a holy guy, who makes it up, who'll have it sung by his Tisch, then it's holy. Is Shlomo in this category? Frankly no. An interesting side note: Carlebach music has become not only acceptable in today's Chabad world, but even praised. Do I listen? Yes. But that doesn't mean I don't think he was wrong. Forget going against the Rebbe-the guy went against virtually all the laws of Shomrah Negiah. Does that make it Treif? Tough call. My only point with him is that I wish people wouldn't make him into a Rebbe or something. Is he evil? Probably not. Who am I to judge? Does that stop me? Of course not.
At this point I'd like to emphasize that I'm not dealing with quality here. Almost everyone knows that a performer like Avraham Fried is vastly superior to one of the Yeshivish singers, like Sruli Williger or Shloime Dachs, but that doesn't mean that his music is necessarily more Kosher. Is Piamenta good? After all, they played for the Rebbe! But can you listen to their performance of non-Jewish music? I say no, just like I say that Matisyahu is off-limits. Hey, I used to listen, and enjoyed it too, but that's no barometer for Kashrus.
Jewish music has changed greatly since I was a young lad. What does this mean? And can I listen to it? Fifty years ago, even Goyim would be shocked.If Avraham Fried were to release a hip-hop CD, or Lipa a jazz album, would I listen. Actually, that question's been partially answered, as Lipa did release a Jazz album, Likro Et HaHallel. And I'm a big fan of it.
With regards to MBD's ripoffs, I don't listen to Yidden, since it's rather unsavory, but the other two? Yes. Is this hypocritical? Yes. But so is going beyond Niggunim, but not the whole way. Because if MBD is ok, why not Bob Dylan? He's Jewish. And is this hypocrisy ok? I would venture to say that yes, it is, because life is not black and white. There's a heck of a lot of gray in there, and if you look closely, even some magenta. (My one ounce of humor for the evening). We must all set standards for ourselves. For example, I believe that the internet is a terrible thing for a Lubavitcher to be using, unless of course it's for Mivtzoyim. Do I use it? Heck yeah, because I have standards. Do I keep to them always? I wish I did, but nobody's perfect. For example, I'm online now, at 2:30 AM. I'm an idiot. I know. Sorry.
In summation, follow Rashi's words, Kadesh Atah Bemutar Lach. Make yourself holy in what is permitted to you. Can you find a Heter, a loophole? Yes. Should you? No. Can you impose your standards on others? If you're a parent or teacher, yes, but be careful. Be smart. In fact, be a Real Shliach.

61 comments:

Anonymous said...

Dear Mr. RealShliach:

Could you please clarify - is the issue the tune/melody, the words, the composer or the singer? Or I suppose any combination of the former e.g. a non-observant person singing a Niggun because he likes the tune or a religious person humming something from Bob Dylan (you mentioned him first)?

In the 70s it was very common for various prayers to be sung to popular tunes (Simon & Garfunkel were very popular). Yes? No? Maybe?

And what about Chabad's singing of the Marseilles? Come to think of it, before watching steroid-driven baseball games should religious people join in the Stars and Stripes?

Enquiring minds want to know! thanks for your time. LEO de Toot.

Mottel said...

You search the Interweb and you'll finds tens of blogs discussing this topic - frumblog, morefrumblog, frummestblog, frumteensblog, morefrumthanyouteenblog, thefrummmestpersonintheworldblog, atleastmorefrumthanyoublog, etc. Apparently, this topic is a favorite. Lucky for you, I also have a an opinion. And like yours it's a pretty magenta. Firstly you mix three issues. Questionable Jewish music by Jews, Jewish music by questionable Jews, and non-Jewish music by questionable Jews. Shlomo Carlebach is not playing goyishe music. The question is, are his violations of your/our/Torah's standards worthy of a having his music shunned. Type of thing. Then you have music written and performed by Tom, Dick, and Hans, and then taken and performed by MBD, or Piamenta, et al. Whether the lyrics have been changed or not. Some of Shlock Rock's songs actually change only two or three words from the original goyishe song. Then you have Moshav Band, Matisyahu, etc. That's goyishe music written by Jews. And then you have today's standard Jewish music which you find in the "Chassidic" category of your local Jewish music store. Avraham Fried. And the rest. And you hear their stuff and you think "sounds goyish." Aside from Niggunei Chassidim, that's the most kosher music you'll find today. Sad but true. The fine line dif. is that when you hear Piamenta jamming or a Matisyahu song you think "that IS goyishe music," and when you hear Fried or MBD (non-stolen stuff) or Gertner, you think "that SOUNDS goyish."

And just like that I'm done.

e said...

Mottel: you're wrong.

The Real Shliach said...

That's rather harsh.

le7 said...

I'm kinda with e. on some points.

The Real Shliach said...

e didn't make any points! He just criticized! Sheesh.

le7 said...

I'm kinda with e on some points that Mottel maid.

le7 said...

I'm kinda with e on some points that Mottel maid.

The Real Shliach said...

As in, you don't agree with everything Mottel said.

le7 said...

Exactly.

The Real Shliach said...

For example...

le7 said...

I never listened to Matisyahu and thought "That is goyishe music" where I have listened to Gertner and said "Geesh he stole both of those songs from the goyim."

The Real Shliach said...

Well, I suppose different strokes for different folks.

le7 said...

Qualifying is BS.

The Real Shliach said...

Qualifying as in...?

le7 said...

As in calling matisyahu's early music goyish but listening to child molesters.

The Real Shliach said...

Oh, you're saying I'm a hypocrite. Well, I never said I wasn't...

le7 said...

That doesn't make it okay.

The Real Shliach said...

I never said it was.

le7 said...

Your actions are complicit.

The Real Shliach said...

That's very possibly true.

e said...

I never actually read mottel's comment. It's just this habit i have of contradicting him whenever he says something too long and important-sounding.

The Real Shliach said...

You realize that's not lightstone, right?

e said...

Now I do.

The Real Shliach said...

And now that this realization has hit you, do you still disagree?

Mottel said...

Wow - Nach a Mottel . . . How can this be? There can be only one (5 points for E if he can tell me where that quote is from).
E will diasgree w/me no matter what.

I disagree with Mottel!

The Real Shliach said...

This Mottel was Mottel way before you were ever Mottel.

Mottel said...

-TRS: Shtusim v'havalim! Hab ich zach ge'Mottel't iber Tvantzik manat far er hot g'tracht Mottel'n!!

The Real Shliach said...

Whatever floats your boat babes.

Mottel said...

You admitting that I am the first and true Mottel floats my boat!

The Real Shliach said...

No, I'm merely saying that if you want to live in your little delusional world, and think your little delusional thoughts, you are entitled to, but that doesn't change the facts on the ground.

Mottel said...

Dude, you're delusional.
Compare my info:
User Stats
On Blogger Since April 2005
Profile Views 7,800

To his info:
On Blogger Since December 2006
Profile Views 830

Nov questions, hand down, I was blogging before he was around!

le7 said...

I think his point is that he's a real life Mottel...

Mottel said...

-LE7: Apologetics - it's in no way implied in his words. In any event, I too am a real life Mottel.

Mottel said...

Ok, everyone calm down.

I haven't commented on this blog since i discovered there's an imposter Mottel here.

Also, even when reading the comment about music that began this discussion, I thought it was imposter Mottel, because I don't write that well!

But, for what it's worth, I agree with Mottel.

Anyone wanna come see Cubs vs. Brewers Sept, 14?

The Real Shliach said...

The point is that well before you were called "mottel" in any forum he was being called "mottel".

And yes, I'd love to come to the game...but there are other things I might have to take care of that day :)

le7 said...

Skip the wedding - let's go see the Cubs versus the Brewers!!

The Real Shliach said...

Really? You mean it?

le7 said...

Are you kidding? Go watch my city's baseball team by creamed by our arch enemies instead of go to my own wedding?

Hello, is it even a question?

The Real Shliach said...

Aderabe! Go BrewCrew!
And hey, Ryan Braun is Jewish, he can officiate our wedding on the field!

Mottel said...

Do I need to go back to CCL?

The Real Shliach said...

LOL. It might help.

le7 said...

Wait - is Ryan Braun the one who the Jewish Chronicle made a whole big deal about when in fact it's just his father with the jewnetics?

The Real Shliach said...

Yeah, I think so. Nu nu.

le7 said...

Help what?

The Real Shliach said...

It might help differentiate between the two Mottels.

le7 said...

Right. I guess so.

The Real Shliach said...

Besides, CCL is a cool name. My question is, what's with the baseball game?

le7 said...

Asking me or him?

The Real Shliach said...

Everyone! I mean, we could take a group there or something...

Mottel said...

hey you guys, is this part of your not communicating, or is this your communication day?

le7 said...

I bet buying the community bleacher seats and having Zev Stern tailgate is cheaper than Mequon or the War Memorial!

le7 said...

...wedding planning?

The Real Shliach said...

Mottel+Mottel: Man, this is confusing...

re: baseball wedding: I'm all for it.

re: communication: Well, it's obviously not so private...

e said...

seriously, hosting a tailgate is a lot cheaper than a wedding. go for it.

le7 said...

TRS - You have more pull - care to pass that one on to the powers that be?

The Real Shliach said...

e: You ever seen me tailgate? It'll be a close call.

le7: I'll see what I can do.

le7 said...

Since when have you ever tailgated.

The Real Shliach said...

I've done it.

Altie said...

i was gonna say wow this was your 1st post that actuallly got tons of comments. but then i noticed all the comments are recent. so it doesnt count.

The Real Shliach said...

It'll get over it.