Tuesday, July 29, 2003

About Yidden

One of the things which has always perturbed me about the Jewish music scene is the lack of honesty some artists have about tunes they've "borrowed" from secular sources. My problem is not with the use of secular music per se, its the misrepresentation of such music as being original. A few examples: The Piamenta Bands use of Men At Work's "Land Down Under," Lev Tahor's Use of the intro to "Rock You Like A Hurricane"from the Symphonic Scorpions album as the intro to Asher Bara on their album Lev Tahor 2, and Dedi's use of an Abba tune credited to "Nigun Mibeis Abba" on his album Bitchu Bashem.

The most egregious violation is Mordechai Ben David's song "Kumt Aheim" (commonly referred to as "Yidden") on the Yerusholayim Is Not For Sale album.

Check out the following link for an audio clip and music video of the original song.

The song is called"Dschingis Khan" (Genghis Khan) and was Germany's entry in the 1979 Eurovision contest held in Jerusalem. The fourth place song, “Dschingis Khan” was no doubt widely played on Israeli radio. The lyrics of the song glorify the Mongolian warrior, Genghis Khan, and include lines like "there is no wife he hasn't known" and "he fathers seven kids in a single night." (Note: I've translated the lyrics from the German original.)I've heard that the song was used as a soundtrack for German pornography films.

The thing that I find especially troubling is that the album cover appears to have been deliberately laid out to give the misleading impression that the song was composed by Yossi Green; there is no acknowledgement anywhere as to the source of the song. MBD didn't only borrow the melody, the album uses virtually the same musical arrangement as well.

This song has been a popular dance request at Orthodox affairs. It has evolved over the years and is now played at a much faster tempo then the original recordings by Dschingis Khan and MBD. There are even two line dances that have become associated with the song.

I’ve found that most people do not know the origins of this song and think that it is an original Mordechai Ben David song. I don’t have anything against the music itself; it’s the apparent deception that I find troubling.