Never doubt the power of the printed word. On Saturday, the legendary Nat Hentoff raved over a 3-CD set of classic Yiddish tracks called Cantors, Klezmorim and Crooners 1905-1953 in the Wall Street Journal. (“A typical lyric: ‘What an improvement in our lives. No more problems, never harried. We are happily unmarried. I am a boarder at my wife’s.’ ”) Two days later, on Monday morning, the set had leaped to number 4 overall on Amazon.com (in between James Taylor and Cheryl Crow, for your information).
With due respect to Mr. Hentoff and Amazon’s hive mind, though, Tablet Magazine has long been on the case. In November, music columnist Alexander Gelfand reviewed the set. “It’s enough,” he wrote, “to give you some sense of the tremendous diversity of Jewish cultural expression during the 78 era, which stretched from the late 19th century—a full 25 years before the advent of radio—to the early 1950s, a span that saw the efflorescence of Yiddish theater, the rise of ‘hebe’ dialect humor, and the eager engagement of a rapidly assimilating immigrant community with American culture at large.”
And last month, Marissa Brostoff noted that one of the singers featured on the set, Moishe Oysher, is having a moment of his own.
Listen to an excerpt from “Chasidic in America” from the collection. Yes, the dude is singing, “Oy vey!”
Marc Tracy is a staff writer at The New Republic, and was previously a staff writer at Tablet. He tweets @marcatracy.