A few weeks ago a You Tube video came across my feed and i exclaimed out loud .
.Batsheva! I know her ! At least i thought i did .Some memories came flooding back .It was a casual acquaintance ..
My mind went back to Toronto in 1980 when i was a young record executive picking up labels for distribution and making a name for myself,.I had scored big with the best selling children artists at that time Sharon,Lois and Bram and I remember seeing Batsheva twice as i recall once at the Beth Tzedek synagogue in Toronto performing at some gala and also at Judy Perley’s Free Times Cafe for a Yiddish brunch. Free Times was a place i hung out at and it was a center for folk music in Toronto at that time ..
It became a famous thing that brunch where you would fress on a Jewish style buffet and listen to live Jewish music.
Batsheva was the one who started the whole thing. We would run into each other every now and then and a few years later when i returned from Israel i remember her coming into my Incredible Records store.
I immediately friended her a couple of weeks ago and noticed a lot of her friends were people i had known from the record business back in Canada.
She said i will send you a cd.
Ok i thought .
A lot of people send me their cds..I dread that because i hate to hurt anyone and most of what i hear is not very good and they await my judgement eagerly ..
Today i went to my post box and there was Batsheva’s cd .
I have a peculiar way of listening to music .
I get in the car and i pop it in the player and i drive to the coast .
Most cds don’t make it a mile ..
Batsheva’s cd made it all the way to the coast and then it made it all the way back.
I stayed at the coast for about 15 minutes looking out over the ocean from Bodega Head,.Then i did a short meditation in the car and then i replayed the cd on my way back .The whole drive of 30 or so minutes from my house to the coast took me to track 10 .On my return back on track 12 i pulled over on the side of the road and cried a tear because this Yiddish song was so beautiful .
From the first note and Batsheva’s voice i felt a tug at my heart and i listened in mute silence .
I grabbed the lyrics and what i read touched me to my core.
“Who can understand the beauty of the sea
or the light in your eyes
and have her heart break from grief and from joy. ?
You my restlessness ,you”
I love this cd !
I am a sucker for Yiddish because it is my heart’s language ,my mamaloshen in a sense even though i may understand some dozens of words.
My grandmother would take me in her arms .my head upon her lap and she would read to me in Yiddish ..as her hand would stroke my cheek..
These are my earliest childhood memories.
Batsheva sings in a voice like a bird ,a Yiddish bird and she is clear as a bell and my heart soared when i heard these songs.
The cd starts off with a wonderful stand out Yiddish version of Leonard Cohen’s Dance Me to the End of Love. This is a song that deserves a Yiddish rendering and she does it perfectly.
I must say though the true treasures lie further for me. It is a journey this music that takes me from the Shtetl of Europe in the days of my great-grandfather and then to Spain in the 15th century …But it is more than the sum of it’s parts this music .The cd unfolds like a beautiful fan to my ears .It is lovely.
Then there are the Ladino songs . I am a sucker for Ladino songs and even though i am a Ashkenazi Jew of Russian and Eastern European roots Ladino speaks to me as does the whole sephardic culture.
I must have had a sephardic lover in my past lives because i am so attuned to the culture and more so since i spend the summers in Spain on an island that had a Jewish population for centuries.
There is a song i couldn’t help laughing at ..
I love it.
It is written by another person i knew in the Canadian record business ,Marie Lynn Hammond who was at one time one of my favorite singer songwriters back in that day. Batsheva is great friends with her . The song is a feminist take on the story of Adam and Eve and Batsheva sings it with a particularly saucy and take no prisoners air .
The proverbial apple cart is clearly turned over !!!!
Another great song (actually they are all great ) is a song Batsheva penned called Damn Little Yiddish Folksongs .
Again i laughed as i listened . A nod to all those olde English Francis Child ballads but with a sardonic Yiddish twist.
This cd made the road test to the coast and back and i can’t remember a time that has ever happened. Oh yes Leonard Cohen’s new cd of course….
Bravo Batsheva and so wonderful to renew our acquaintance once again!
Go and buy this cd and pop it in your car and take a long drive from wherever you live ..Life is too short not to. This is a gift!