3. Two Wolves
This Song was musically inspired by Muddy Waters first hit single, I cant be satisfied. Its about the Struggle of the Beinoni. In Chassidus, this concept comes from the Alter Rebbe, Rabbi Schneur-Zalman of Liaidi, who wrote the Tanya, also known as the Sefer Beinoni (Book of the Average Man). In this profound work, he brings some very esoteric teachings, Kabbalah, and the Tanya is the first work that codified some of CHaBaDs basic tenants. In this song, Im singing about the struggle of the Benoni ¨¢ a person who struggles with the Yetzer Harah (the evil inclination) and Yetzer Hatov (the good inclination). In Native American folklore, the Yetzer Hatov and Tezer Harah have been personified as wolves.
This song was inspired by reading a book by Paul Cohelo ( author of the Alchemist)called the 5th Mountain. It is a historical fictional exegesis that expounds upon Elijah (Eliyahu) the Prophets life. Eliyahu is one of the only prophets to not die a physical death in the Torah and when he comes back, he will announce the arrival of Moshiach, may he come soon!
It seems fitting to be writing the insights to this song on this night, the 9th Of Av. Also known as Tisha B Av, this is the saddest day in the Jewish Calendar. Many incidents of Destruction and devastation occurred throughout our history on this day. To name a few, the first and second temples were destroyed, King Edward issued an edict for the Jews to leave England, Tisha b Av is also linked to the explusion of the Jews from Spain
What do you dream about ? Are you Living your dreams? Joseph lived his lived based on his dreams, he is a source of inspiration to me. This song is a snapshot of different parts of his life and his deep faith in Hashem.
Of all the Characters in the Tanach who truly had a reason to sing the blues, Lot is the one who most poignantly stands out as his life unravels. This song has a niggun (wordless melody) in it. Nigunnim are a very powerful form of prayer and can transcend all the Mental gymnastics we do and take us much higher. "Rabbi Nachman says that the most direct means for attaching ourselves to G-d from this material world is through music and song. We learn from Chassidus that every Neshama (soul) had its own melody before making the descent into this world. Physical existence covers up this original song with many layers of noise. The quest for self-understanding and closeness to G-d involves searching the world for our own hidden melody. Through the power of nigun, a tzaddik (righteous person) is able to connect us to Gan Eden (The Garden of Eden) which is the original place of complete understanding."( from Leiba Chaya Simblist)
This song was initially inspired by the image of Sampson trapped in chains regretting his choices. Then it developed into the cry of the working man, then the Egyptian slave, now us. This song is also the cry of the Monday Morning Warrior on the way to the office. The bridge in this song is from Psalm 30 line three and is translated as O Hashem, My Hashem I cried out to thee. Listen to it loud on the freeway on the way to work.
It was 3:30 in the morning after a 7 hour recording day, we had 10 minutes left of tracking time and not much Rockstar left in the Cans or ourselves. Turns out the mood was just right to capture King Sauls Angst as he called out for someone to help him. The Irony of this song and of the Chapter in Samuel from whence it came, is that the very person Saul calls on to sooth him, David, is one of the primary sources of his deep internal struggle
Have you ever had a day where you just laid your head down and felt lost? You are not alone, King David struggled with depression as well and this song comes from a prayer that is said after Shacharit and Minchah most days and is a perfect. It is King David talking to one of his Advisors (Gad ) about how distressed he is. When this prayer is traditionally read in Shul, congregants will sit down and lay their head on their left arm. I borrowed the part of the song form from an Eric Bibb version of a Howlin Wolf song called goin down slow.
This Brothers Blues
The Torah is full of sibling rivalries. This Brothers Blues is a four part story of Jacob and Esau from Jacobs Perspective. This Song is a musical tribute to Jeff Beck and Stevie Wonder, complete with 70s clavinet, doo-woops, and a gang of guitars.
This song is considered an African America Spiritual song which has been sung
by every great gospel and blues artist you can think of. Most notably Louis Armstrong.
This song established the bond between the Jewish slavery Experience and the African
Slave experience as this song was written communally and sung by slaves in the South
who felt a kinship between their plight and that of the Jewish Slaves in Egypt. It is also
referred to as a folk song which just means that it was created by a community rather than
an individual, in this case the community of African- American slaves who lived in the
South prior to the Civil War.
An early reference to it places it in Maryland in the late eighteenth century. It was
a popular slave song and was sung throughout the South by slaves while they worked and
during their occasional times of rest and prayer. “Go Down, Moses” is also said to have
been sung by abolitionists to signal escape or rebellion. The lyrics use biblical imagery
expressing the desire for a release from bondage. The song is marked by its strong tone of
determination in the struggle for freedom. To this day, “Go Down, Moses” has remained
popular and is performed by gospel singers throughout the world.
This song has also been a favorite of mine at Passover Seder’s growing up.
This song is a conversation between two adult Jewish men who were slaves during the
time that Jews were enslaved in Egypt. One man is committed to following Moses
through the Sea Of Reeds (Red Sea) into the unknown freedom beyond their waters. The
other is very content with his life in Egypt, his lands, animals, crops and family life.
You can imagine the difficulty in deciding to follow a renegade out into the unknown
desert. Essentially someone comes to your door and asks to to leave your home, your
lands, and all the possessions you’ve worked for to follow a stranger into the unknown.
There was also massive resistance from within the Jewish world to Moses’ rising up in
Egypt after hearing God’s call, there had never been a slave uprising in Egypt for 400
years! In fact, as the biblical narrative goes, the Jews willingly walked into Slavery and
became comfortable with the state of slavery there.
The first is the fact that 75% of the Jews in slaved in Egypt didn’t choose to leave even
after the 10 plagues! Getting an accurate portrayal of the numbers of Jews who were
actually there is virtually impossible given the difficulty of census taking and not to
mention the fact that all first generation of Jews who left were killed in the desert. One
number that is mostly agreed upon is the number of 600,000 which represents the adult
men and a total of 2 million people in the desert.
This song was inspired by a conversation that I had with a friend of mine who is
also a fellow musician. His mother is Jewish and his Father is Muslim and he’s an
incredibly talented composer, writer, arranger, player and singer as well as a beautiful
soul. I was talking with him about this album concept and he suggested I write an actual
blues in Hebrew. So I borrowed an old d minor slide tuning and sat down to write. What
came was an amalgamation of several prayers from the Shemonei Esrei, a series of 18
prayers said everyday in the morning (Shachris), afternoon (Minchah), and evening
(Maariv) service…there are volumes written on this prayer cycle that are far more
thorough and exhaustive on the topic that I have time or space to go into here.
The Sections that I chose to work from are the section after which it is appropriate
to insert one’s own personal prayer. So the chorus is Shema Koleinu, Adonai Eloheinu,
Chus verachem aleinu vekabel. Translated this means Hear Our Voice Hashem (another
name of G-d, literally translated as the Name), Pity and be compassionate to us. The other
part of the service that I borrowed from for this song is the Viddui/confession which is
said daily and is a confession of transgressions against Hashem and ourselves. Buried
deep within the confession is an accusatory line - “You have let us go astray. Teatanu.
This line is the bridge of the song and the contrast between the confessions against the
plea for help.
It’s the darkest night of the year in the Jewish calendar tonight. The first night of
Channukah. After lighting the first candle and reflecting on the miracles that are at work
in my life and the lights all around me, I sing Mao Tzur. I always felt like the traditional
melody of this song was too “military” sounding. Authored by a man named Mordechai,
it is undeniably a song of battle reflecting the enslavement of the Jewish people in Egypt,
Babylonia, and Greece.
It is the small victory during the Greek enslavement of the Jews that brings us to
the Chanukkah story. It is a tale of a temple’s defilement and the ensuing miracle
whereby one flask of oil lasted 8 days instead of only one single day. The story is told
more eloquently else where and I want to focus on the slavery and reworking of the
militant melody into what naturally yields into a blues tune.
So this blues is a reworking of the Art Scroll Translation of Mao Tzur (Rock of Ages)
“If there is trouble ahead in your life and you want change into your life, walk
into it…wade in the water it’s gonna be troubled water.”
This song is essentially the call to action in your life that the waters of life are
troubled and that we learn and grow the most from those things that test us. The folk
music tradition is an ever evolving tradition that grows every time the song is sung. If
you could add a verse in this song, what would it be?
Pick up the my first Chassidic StoryTelling Cd . The Chassidic Storytelling Project. Music By Saul Kaye and Stories by Rabbi Ethan Franzel ChassidicStorytelling
This Project Was done in 48 hours. I was on tour in New York in January of 2010 and I took a bus over to Philadelphia to Meet Rabbi Ethan Franzel in his Home. I arrived at 5pm and we went straight into the studio. He told three stories and I composed music until 2am. Fast forward 3 months to April 8th, just before the Beit ayin Spring Tour and I finished the music in one day. These stories are amazing and great for the whole family...