Tuesday, December 22, 2009

Hey Regina, Barth's your biggest fan

So I get a fair amount of email & comments on the blog, but sometimes I get caught of guard. Recently I got in a exchange in comments section of a blog post I wrote about Regina Spektor (Regina Spektor sings Eli, Eli). The rather testy commenter, Barth, interpreted my post as not being properly appreciative of Spektor's expressions of Jewish religion and identity. Which was perplexing, because I thought the point of my post was to be appreciative. Oh well. Guess I wasn't clear enough.

So...I hereby announce

1. Ms. Spektor is an admirable example of Jewish religion and identity in contemporary pop music
2. If I somehow implied anything other than that in my post or made any factual errors, shame on me.

Ok Barth, are we square now?

Trimming out the bits where he beats up on me, Barth had a few thoughts on Spektor that are worth sharing. (The other bits you can read for yourself if you care too.)
"Regina---an American citizen today because of antisemitism in her native Russia (then part of the USSR)---presents a very Jewish point of view in quite a bit of her music. She is not proselytizing, of course, but her experiences, attending Hebrew day schools, hiking through Israel as well as her family's departure and settling in with the Jewish communities in the Bronx--define much of her work.

Laughing With is the most direct expression of this. When I first heard it, the song stunned me into writing this: http://edsbarth.blogspot.com/2009/06/regina-spektor.html

and, I have written about her both as a Jew and and songwriter/performer several times.

Her "Ink Stains", an assault against holocaust deniers rendered a Radio City audience into virtual silence a few months ago as discussed here: http://edsbarth.blogspot.com/2009/10/regina-at-radio-city.html

and the You Tube of her singing it to an audience in Amsterdam after she attended to the Anne Frank memorial is, I think, quite moving: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=1mArmSi2JaM

If songs like these or that talk about "falling into faith" or "why we fight" when facing mortal illness are not part of the NFTY catalogue or something sung while dancing the hora, it is because they were written in the past ten years, and not because they are not "Jewish music" at least from where I sit.
To close this off, here's the Spektor song Laughing With that Barth mentioned.

1 comment:

Barth said...

Jack: I would love that title. I am not sure I qualify given, just as a minor for instance, this, this or this, among others, but I am honored to accept the title.

Although she has written about sailors, by the way, I don't think she qualifies as an admiral and you probably meant "identity" and "hereby" but as the king of blog typos, I cannot complain.

I, too, have blogged about our exchange, including my profuse apologies for impolitic and stupid shots I took at you.

Here is, as I may have noted before, another person who says he has "been able to find reflections of my background in the music of Regina Spektor" and that "Spektor’s sound tends to reflect her Jewish heritage... [and] is heavily influenced by Russian and Eastern European folk tunes that have traveled through Jewish communities throughout the centuries. These archetypically Jewish melodies manage to blend fairly well into Spektor’s 'alternative' sound, which has bolstered Spektor’s voice and made it stand out against a sea of singer-songwriters."

My post today also raises some of the issues we discussed. Yes, we are "square" now.

Shabbat Shalom.