Jewish music rocks like Bon Jovi

By , July 22, 2010 1:51 pm

Listen for yourself. Click to hear Rocky Zweig singing “Boris” from his Legacy album (Aderet Music Corp.)

Hear it. The first five seconds. A keyboard…drums…it sounds like rock. These are the familiar sounds of a song that is going to tell a story. It sounds like the introduction to the Bon Jovi song, “Livin on a Prayer.”  Then Rocky Zweig begins to sing.

His story is about a boy named Boris. Boris is upset because he is persecuted for being Jewish. The story ends with Boris dying. In “Livin on a Prayer,” the pseudo couple, Tommy and Gina, live on little money and try to make their relationship work.

In the lyrics of “Boris,” it says “…you must strive now, to keep your religion alive within your heart…” This part is not just about religion. It goes deeper. It also means fighting for respect and staying true to oneself is vital. Just because other people don’t like you, you should not let them break you. In life, there will always be people who try to bring you down. Instead of allowing it, become empowered to rise above it.

As the story of “Boris” progresses, it becomes clear that he is viewed as an outcast. The persecution was so much that he planned on killing himself and others on a plane. Instead, Boris was killed and his life became a mere memory.

In “Livin on a Prayer,” the words work so well together.  Tommy has been laid off and Gina gives all of her earnings to him. Of the little money they do have, they must have faith that times will get better.

In the lyrics of “Livin on a Prayer,” it says “…we’ve got to hold on to what we’ve got. Cause it doesn’t make a difference if we make it or not…” What I get from this is no matter what hardship we face, it is possible to break the cycle. As long as someone believes in you, anything can happen. In this song, Tommy and Gina have each other and they push through the odds.

Although these are two different stories, they have similar musicality and both songs use rock instrumentation. Both songs are stories of hardship. I think the reason I find stories of hardship so fascinating is because people are fascinating. Every person is different and unique. Songs like these that explore hardship are real.

While “Boris” is technically Jewish music, I think it would appeal to anyone. It sounds current and isn’t just for Jewish people to enjoy. On the album, “Legacy,” Rocky Zweig sings 10 songs, all of which sound like popular rock music and ballads of today. His voice has a tone that works well for rock. This album makes singing about religion cool and it makes Jewish music more relevant for today’s world.

It might seem unusual that there is such similarity between the songs “Boris” and “Livin on a Prayer.” Hardship, however, is a theme found at the heart of many songs and is fuel for creativity. A hard life lived with passion is more valuable than an easy life lived with indifference.

Submitted by Jackie Rosansky

RSA Guest Blogger, Jackie Rosansky is a summer volunteer intern at the Judaica Sound Archives. This blog contains her original thoughts and opinions about the musicians and music she is researching. She is 24 years old, and is majoring in journalism with a minor in photography at FAU.

Recorded Sound Archives at FAU Libraries

By , July 19, 2010 8:36 pm

Historic sound snapshot from our past.

Visually stunning picture records, historic radio transcriptions such as President Roosevelt’s speech to the U.S. Congress following Pearl Harbor, and hundreds of original recordings by Italian tenor Enrico Caruso are among the treasures being inventoried at the new Recorded Sound Archives at Florida Atlantic University Libraries.

These relics of the recording industry are among an estimated 50,000 vintage records that were recently donated to FAU Libraries and used to create its “Vintage 78s Collection.” The records, along with extensive holdings of Jazz recordings and Judaic music, inspired FAU libraries to recently establish the Recorded Sound Archives with more than 150,000 phonograph records and other sound recordings.

“This makes us one of the top 20 libraries in the nation for sound recordings,” said Dr. William Miller, dean of Libraries at FAU. “People know….that we are a library interested in rare and historic recordings.”

Unpacking the recent donation of tens of thousands of recordings from the estate of Cleveland collector Jack Saul has been daunting, but with the help of staff and volunteers, the materials are being digitized and eventually will be available on FAU Libraries’ website.

The Recorded Sound Archives has three major collections:

(1) Vintage 78s Collection: Early disc recordings were dubbed 78s, referring to their playing speed of 78 revolutions per minute, and were produced between 1901 and the mid-1950s. Music, speeches, radio transcriptions and even movie soundtracks were produced on 78 rpm records.

(2) Jazz Collection:  The Recorded Sound Archives is creating an inventory of the more than 20,000 jazz recordings donated by Dr. Henry Ivey in 2006 and later transferred to the library from FAU’s Department of Music. Volunteers are currently entering information about the recordings into a database so that musicians and others will be able to easily search for what they want.

(3) Judaica Sound Archives:  The Judaica Sound Archives (JSA), created in 2005, established FAU Libraries as an international leader in the collection and digitization of early phonograph recordings. It now boasts a collection of more than 15,000 non-duplicated recordings. Its website offers listeners over 11,000 songs in English, Hebrew and Yiddish.

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