Monday, November 29, 2010


A Jewish version of Lorne Green's classic, "Ringo?"

Technically, there already is one, because Lorne Greene was Jewish (as was "Bonanza" co-star Michael Landon). His "Ringo" is just not as Jewish as...
"Shlomo," by Country Yossi.
Chanukah has come early this year!

Finally, the Illfolks blog gets to introduce you to Yossi Toiv. He's been around for decades, debuting on radio in 1986, and still at it via WSNR and now streaming Internet archives. He's got his own magazine as well and…while the original vinyl is out of print, albums by Country Yossi and the Shteeble-Hoppers are available on CD from his website: The download sample, 'Schlomo,' is from the vinyl version on "Country Yossi and the Shteeble Hoppers Strike Again." Most of his early albums featured Jewish versions of classic pop (Sedaka, Beach Boys, etc.) and country (Johnny Cash).

Jewish novelty songs fall into two categories…orthodox and reform. Orthodox might include Benny Bell, who often sang in Yiddish, as well as Lee Tully, Eli Basse and Mickey Katz who sang in a high-pitched nasal voice that these days might even seem antisemitic. Reform would be Allan Sherman and Shel Silverstein ("What do You Do if You're Young and White and Jewish?") Not to mention comic singers who didn't make being Jewish a part of their act, such as Tom Lehrer.

Country Yossi's stuff is pretty orthodox…if you just light Chanukah candles and eat bagels and lox, you might not get all the references. If you keep the Sabbath, know the last words that differentiate a prayer for bread and a prayer for wine, and can at least sing "Adon Olum" from memory, you shouldn't have much trouble. Although with Country Yossi some songs are serio-comic at best, pulling that old Jewish trick of injecting pathos into the mix.

Months ago I posted an Italian version of "Ringo" so for your convenience, it's re-posted below, along with the latest doff of the cowboy hat to the late great Lorne Green. Enjoy your Kosher-Italian treats...

RINGO in ITALIAN by Adriano Celantano


mantmarble said...

True schmaltz knows no age or boundaries. For instance, check out this twisted para-vaudevillian blow-out by Dicey and Paprika, an East Coast lounge-pop duo... like Fanny Brice meets Nina Hagen...

Anonymous said...

Dicey and Paprika...thanks!

You know, if they were a drag act they'd be legend.

In the cabaret world, being female and Jewish isn't "in" anymore.