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Tuesday, July 11, 2006

Moshe B. Goode

During the '70s, it seemed like every serious Rock band did their own cover version of "Johnny B. Goode." That Chuck Berry song was the quintessential I-IV-V Rock song. For many of those artists, it all started with Chuck Berry. Heck, even Shlock Rock covered "Johnny B. Goode."

For Jewish Rockers, though, there is only one seminal I-IV-V song--Moshe Shur's "Hafachta." Now, I'm not talking about the watered-down acoustic version that appeared on The Diaspora Yeshiva Band's first album. I'm talking about the Lynyrd Skynyrd Southern Rock version on the Live from King David's Tomb album. That's the one that started it all. You may be able to argue that there were a few Jewish Rock tunes out there before this, and you may be right. But none of them went on to such mainstream popularity with the traditional Jewish Music world, and none of them inspired legions of frustrated Jewish Jimmy Pages to finally start playing Jewish Music.

Because for years, that was all there was. There was Polka, there was Disco, there was Chazzanus, there was Eastern European folk music, and there was Hafachta. I remember joining my first band (Tohu Vavohu--don't laugh), and having quite the dilemma. You see, I really wanted to be playing Zeppelin, and The Kinks, and Squeeze, but I knew that joining a band to do that meant playing in bars on Friday nights. But listening to what was out there in the Jewish world was quite frankly, depressing.

Then my guitarist's father took out the Live from King David's Tomb album and cued up "Hafachta." I couldn't believe my ears. There was a wailing guitar solo. And an amazing bassline. And a back-beat! It had a backbeat (you couldn't lose it)! And it was in English!!! We immediately added it to our repertoire. There was no going back from there.

Over the years, I have played that song in virtually every Jewish band I've been in. Tohu Vavohu (1985), Kesher (1985), Kabbalah (1987), and now, The Moshe Skier Band:


Ezzie said...

Nice! I've always loved that song. I'm even making Elianna wait to have her diaper changed until the video finished and I wrote this comment! (Okay, gotta go. Pee-ew!)

PsychoToddler said...

Disclaimer: The Moshe Skier Band does not condone child neglect unless it is in the middle of a really hot guitar solo.

Neil Harris said...

"Hafachta" is pretty much as holy as it gets, in my opinion. My 6 year old loves it, and it has nothing to do with Blue Fringe. :)
For me, as a former "punk kid", I've found the intensity of a Piamenta show to be at the top of my list to quench my thirst. Although I did enjoy seeing your band, like, 5 years ago in Chicago.

PsychoToddler said...

Neil, if you like punk, you should try this song. I think I wrote the first Jewish Punk tune ever.

Kiwi the Geek said...

I love seeing a guy with a 6in beard and yarmulke jumping and swinging his arm around! Smash those stereotypes!

Shira Salamone said...

Mark, is the version on the "Diaspora Collection" CD 2 the good version (from the "Live at King David's Tomb" recording)?

Neil Harris said...

I checked the link, great stuff. Tight drums and a good riff are a like a page from Mesillas Yesharim...they both hit you hard nad fast. When are you coming to Chicago?

PsychoToddler said...

Kiwi: I love the smashing of the stereotypes.

Shira: yep, that's the one. It may seem tame by today's standards, but it blew us away at the time.

Neil: Go to the band site and put yourself on our mailing list. We're in Chicago a few times a year. (Assuming they want us back--we were a little LOUD last time).

Omer said...

There must be hundreds of versions of Hafachta that Diaspora themselves did. I know at 20 people that each have a different version. In their heyday each show had it's own vibe, a lot like The Dead, and they kept their Torah thing at the forefront. The reunions in the 90's, other than maybe The Reunion at Carnegie Hall itself, offered plenty of nostalgia, but lacked inspiration and precision, and all Ruby Harris cared about was being the loudest guy in the band. I like your band alot. Re: Hafachta- I think you guys should slow the tune down a little. A touch of blues. It's more soulful when your squeeze a little more heart out of the words.

PsychoToddler said...

I think you guys should slow the tune down a little.

Funny, that's what Ruby said.

Sorry, I like it faster. I don't think we're much faster that DYB on this one, though.