New cd from Skylark Productions is "Der East Side fun amol," rare Yiddish songs from the Lower East Side, 1895-1923
Last night I couldn't sleep, I was fretting about losing track of the songs I've been recording for the American Yiddish Penny Songs project. This evolved from my interest in a collection of 200 broadsides published in New York around the turn of the 20th century, now housed at Hebrew Union College. I put out a book consisting of facsimiles of all 200 songs and then started hunting up their tunes and recording them. There are almost 30 of them up on youtube now, with English subtitles: Gaslight Era Yiddish songsheets - go have a look!
I suddenly decided to put 19 of them on an album which will be digital download only, because I don't think there are enough people interested in this obscure music to justify a run of physical cds. You can click the picture here to visit the album and listen to all the songs. There's a 32-page book of texts and translations that comes with the download ($7).
This project has a meditative quality for me. I know very, very few people care about what I'm doing, so I'm doing it just because it ought to be done. These songs reflect the heart of a chunk of Jewish American history and culture, and maybe someday somebody will care, and that's good enough for me.