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: