Monday, July 13, 2009

Golem! sings about The Railroad Stories

I feel so bad. I forgot, last week, when writing about Sholem Aleichem's The Railroad Stories, to mention the song "Train Across Ukraine," which is actually about The Railroad Stories. This is a new song, from earlier this year, found on the album Citizen Boris by the neo-klezmer band Golem!

The lyrics are little more than a summary of the premise of the stories - the traveler, third-class, tells us that he rides the train. He introduces himself as both Sholem Aleichem and as Hello, How Are You. Come to think of it, that's not correct, since The Railroad Stories are not narrated by Sholem Aleichem. Well, it's creative license, compression. Some of the lyrics are in Yiddish, but I'll bet they just repeat the English.

The link to Sholem Aleichem is in part a memorial and cultural celebration. But it's also an excuse to play a klezmer train song, with whistles and hoots and steam-engine like drumming. Great song. I wish I could link to it, but all I could find was a Youtube video with terrible sound that's not worth anyone's time.

You can go to Golem!'s Myspace page (warning:PLAYS LOUD MUSIC), though, and hear another of their best songs from the same record, "Citizen Boris," the lyrics of which are nothing but the citizenship oath and questions and answers from the citizenship test ("What is the 4th of July? Independence Day"). The song captures both the absurdity and the patriotic wonder of asking a Ukranian grandmother to swear an oath to die for her new country if called to service.

Perhaps I should have mentioned Golem! during Golem Week, but to my knowledge they have never recorded a song about the golem, although there is a golem-like fellow on the cover of their 2006 album Fresh Off Boat (left), which I think is marginally superior to Citizen Boris. If you know where to listen to such things, try the "Golem Hora," or the brilliant "Warsaw Is Khelm." The fools of Khelm, the most stupid people on earth, that's a whole 'nother set of Yiddish folk tales and jokes that I don't believe I've ever mentioned.

Oh look, Golem! gives away "Warsaw Is Khelm." So download it, and see a fragment of the cute video.

Now I feel that I have done my duty to Golem!

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