By: Dave Sharpner
INTRODUCTION: First I would like to give you guys a little background information about the group which came to be known as 8th Day. Shmuli Marcus, the lead vocalist, was born in the year 1976. Bentzi, the guitarist and also singer, was born a few years later in 1980. The boys were born into a family of music. Their mother is sisters with Avraham Fried. And their cousin is Benny Friedman. I’m sure it happened many times in their youth that Uncle Avraham would come by to visit the house and they’d be happily singing together. In fact it’s interesting that you can actually hear a distinct Fried voice in their voices. (As well as Benny’s) The boy’s father Rabbi Yitzchak Marcus who is the Rabbi of Chabad Los Alamitos would always say over that “Friday night I would invite home unaffiliated guests from shul. And the boys would be singing and drumming with their hands on the table!” The lead singer Shmuel Marcus actually started his career as a Rabbi. He attended rabbinical school in Los Angeles and New York. And then went on to be a Rabbi in Ukraine for a year. He wrote about his experiences in a book of stories and poems called Chicken-Kiev. Shmuel was ordained in 1997 as a Rabbi when he felt a different calling tugging at him. “I remember at the time someone showed me a book about the great singer Bob Dylan. Well I thought to myself, ‘Hey. I can do that!’” At about the same time, Shmuel’s younger brother Bentzi saw one of his poems and asked if he could make a song from it. One thing led to another.
The boys began small. They first started by performing for friends and family. But at that point already people were beginning to take notice of their talent. Finally upon the suggestion of some close friends they decided to give it a serious go! In 2005 the boys officially branded themselves as The Eighth Day, named after Shmuel’s Birthday and the Eighth day of a holiday called Purim. At that point they met up with the great drummer Rosy who plays supernatural drums only!! After releasing their first album Tracht Gut, in 2006 they got major positive feedback. They had acquired a serious fan base. And people wanted more! The song Tracht Gut became a really big hit.
And their unique style really set them apart! They combined country, soft rock, hora, beautiful emotional slow ballads, Chasidisheh Niggunim and even a bit of reggae all into one seamless and beautiful style. The lyrics once again are a combination of English, Hebrew, Yiddish and even sometimes Aramaic. But still none of these previous genres can really describe their style accurately. Because what these talented guys have actually done is completely create their own unique style!! Their style transcends all genres and specific descriptions. In short their music can be summed up in one word,”universal.” It is a style which is uniquely their own. The style is at once both extremely playful and yet very spiritually deep. And herein lies the paradox. On the one hand they’re really, really a lot of fun and bursting with playful joy. But then you also have this really deep meaning woven into each song .
I believe by the way that this is exactly what the Baal Shem intended when he created Chassidus. Chassidus is where there is a genuine happiness and enjoyment. There is a playful fun and even humor. But all of that joy is coming from a very deep inner core. From an iron strong will to seek holiness. And I believe it is that combination of depth and joyfulness which gives the Eighth day such a universal appeal! It doesn’t matter if you’re a yeshivish bochur learning in Lakewood or a Chassideshe Baal Habayis living in Monroe or even a Sephardic Rabbi living in Long Branch! As long you’ve got a soul inside your body this group will have music that will speak directly to you!
They then came out with their second album Brooklyn, which was yet another masterpiece! Finally came along came Chasing Prophecy which of course had the super mega hit Ya’alili which literally took over the world by storm. To this day there isn’t a single wedding or any Simcha for that matter that doesn’t play Ya’alili!! It’s like part of the things you order. You get a photographer. You get a band. You get a caterer. And you get a Ya’alili!! The Ya’alili craze started first at the OHEL concert when they introduced the song for the first time. The crowd went wild!! And so they decided of course to use that as opening song on Chasing Prophecy, and finally last year right before Purim they went to the Pomegranate grocery, and shot a Ya’alili music video there.
I remember that time very clearly. Because unknowingly I was actually in the store when they came in to shoot it! I was there with my friend for the Lipa 24/6 prerelease concert! Next thing I knew, Bentzi Marcus comes in with a whole camera crew!! Everyone was quickly ushered out as they then proceeded to shoot one of the most amazing and professionally done Jewish music videos to date! It was that video that really nailed them as a staple in every Jewish home! From then on there was only one question on everybody’s lips. “When is the new 8th day CD finally coming out?!”
And now, just a over a year later, we all hold the answer to that question in the palm of our hands as we eagerly pop the new album “All You Got” into our CD player! And here is the main idea of what this album is about. Giving it all you got. Although I believe everyone can derive their own understanding behind all the song meanings, I personally feel that the idea of giving it all you got is that you must completely focus on the task at hand and give it your fullest concentration and effort. I believe this is a huge problem that we have nowadays. We have way too many things going on at once. And we lose focus. We try multitasking. We text while we are both, talking to our wife in the front passenger seat and also trying to turn off the exit on the highway which is at the same time that were trying to change the CD in the CD player. And as I’m listening to the album now I feel that this is the underlying message of this entire album. Live for right now. Forget for a minute the million and one things going on in your life. Just focus right now on this one small task facing you at this very moment. And give it “All you got”.
Okay everyone, I hereby would like to present you with a new technique I just invented for listening to music. It’s called CLL. CLL stands for Child Like Listening. Child like listening is a two part process. First, you shut out all outside distractions. Then, you shut out all distracting and judgmental thoughts about the music. There should be no analyzing in the beginning. Just open ears, an open mind, and an open heart. When a child sees or hears something. He is often hearing it now for the first time. Although still undeveloped and naïve, the child immediately grasps everything going on with a simple clarity, understanding, and enjoyment that many adults can’t achieve.
So here’s how CLL is done. First walk into a quiet room with no one else there. Dim the lights. Close the blinds. Shut off your phone. And have a seat. Close your eyes and let your thoughts run wild for a bit. Breathe in slowly, now breathe out. Feel your mind slowly clearing up. The outside world is now shutting out. Now hit the play button. And you will experience a whole different level of listening. I promise you!
And finally before I get to the actual songs, I would like to say one final thing about this album in general. As I’m listening to this album more and more I’m beginning to realize that there are very deep messages hidden below the surface of each song! It’s sort of like the Magic Eye hidden 3d pictures. First you only see what’s on the surface, and then you start seeing a hidden picture which is much deeper into the picture. And so it is with every single song on this album. Every song has at least two levels of meaning. There’s the surface level which is nice. And then there’s a much deeper level. As I go through each song I will try to hit some of the songs on both levels. And to try and bring out the message hidden within. In fact I would actually compare this album to a sefer. That being the case, I feel a lot more serious about this review than just any album. And the truth is that I really am a changed person after listening to this album.
1.MAZEL TOV: This song is a fast paced disco which I believe will get a lot of playtime on the wedding scene. The song itself reminds me a bit of “NACHAS” single “A SIMCHA WITH NACHAS”. The song starts off with electric guitar strumming a few chords over and over. Then at ten seconds in Bentzi comes on singing the lyrics “To the dance floor. Mazel Tov.” It is at this point that all the digital sounds are starting to kick in. There’s a really awesome bass line going on followed by some cool synthesized sounds. And to top it all off there’s an amazingly funky groove!! It’s interesting also to note the real inner joy and happiness coming through his voice!
I met these guys for the first time on the eighth day of Chanukah. (Yes, I know, it’s kind of ironic.) They were performing at the time at a concert in Manalapan NJ. And I must say that there is no comparison listening to their album and seeing and hearing them in person. The pure joy and fun that these guys emanate is something very rarely seen in anyone!
Anyways at this point the electric guitar is now building up to a faster and more rhythmic groove. And at 34 second in Shmuli starts singing, “Tell all your fears, your worries, your troubles. Tell them to go and dance Kitzatzke!! Kizatzkeh!! Then at 1:23 you can hear Shmuli belting out “That dance floor is alive”!! AM YISRAEL CHAI!!! The voice effects at this part of the song are phenomenal!! It really gives you that dance floor feel! Right afterwards, the electric guitar starts up again. And I got to say that Benzi is one of the meanest Electric guitarists I’ve ever heard! WOW!!
All in all, this song is an incredibly happy and energetic uplifting song which will have you dancing, smiling, and even laughing all at the same time!! Now I will discuss a bit of the deeper meaning and message that I personally took out of this song. There is at first the simple message on the surface of the song which is…
SONG MEANING 1: On the surface we can clearly see and feel that this is a happy song about celebrating good times and dancing away our troubles. But there’s really, so much more to the song as I will now explain…
SONG MEANING 2: This song actually speaks to our deepest innermost yearnings. Sometimes I believe we get so stressed out from the daily grind and from all of the troubles that life sends our way, that we need to just step back for a moment and clear our mind completely just for a moment. We just need a few minutes of joy and fun. And what better way to do that than celebrate with another person their personal Simcha? It is this sharing of oneself and participating in the others happiness that will lead you for a moment at least to forget all of your personal troubles and become bound up in the other person’s simcha!
Just one other important message which I derived from this song is that we constantly seek empty “Highs”. A high is when we do something to temporarily lift us up and make ourselves feel happy. One of the most commonly used Highs nowadays is the dance floor. In fact currently at least 75 percent of the popular music in the world is about “The Dance Floor.” Its either “Get high on the dance floor” or “Get down on the dance floor”. What is it that’s so exciting about the dance floor?
Well, for one thing, when you’re dancing to the fast paced music and the disco lights are flashing the entire world just swirls around you in a haze of total bliss and joy! Until the dance is over…. and the club closes up for the night…. You then go home and realize that you’ll never again see a lot of the people you danced with tonight. There will never be anything further coming out of the dance. It’s over with. But by us it’s not so. Because as Shmuli says so aptly in the lyrics “OUR DANCE FLOOR IS ALIVE!” meaning that when we dance at our friend’s wedding we know that we are not only taking part in, but we are actually also helping to build the foundation of a joyous marriage that will from now on continue building higher every single day. And so that emotional high and feeling of pure ecstasy and bliss that you get while dancing with all your energy will translate into something concrete and real. Something which will keep becoming more real and more alive every day forever!! So yes, our dance floor is truly alive!
2. BOUNCE: This short, fast paced Reggae song starts off with a really funky beat and then at 12 seconds in we get Shmuli Chanting “BOUNCE!! JUMP! Don’t stay on the ground!! BOOOOOUUUUUNNNNCEEE JUUUUUUUUMMMMMp!! “At this point now, both brothers are singing together “AH TEFACH HIECHER! Just a hands breadth higher!! The fresh energy and high spirits that they bring to this song is just mind blowing!! I know this may sound funny but despite their vast differences in style, I actually find a lot of similarities between LIPA and 8th Day. Both have original out of the box lyrics. Both have very deep messages .And randomly, just an interesting observation, both singers started off their album with a fast wedding kind of song and then followed with a feel good, more out of the box kind of song! Yes, I actually see a lot of similarities between this song and Lipas “HI! GOOD MORNING!” song. Both songs are like the early morning coffee. Just the thing to perk you up and start your day with!
Anyways, so back to the song, at seconds in Shmuli starts really getting into the reggae thing sounding a lot like Mattisyahu as he sings the lyrics “Don’t let your ego rise, when you make your bread! Don’t let the hits hit you over the head!” then the lyrics start getting even better! “Just dance to the rhythm, if the rhythms divine! Skip to the next song if the next song is mine! Ya got the downbeat Cadillac! Pickup truck! Dog in the back!! Now has that for fun out of the box but really meaningful lyrics!! If I get a chance to speak to them again, the first thing I think I’m going to ask them is “Where do you guys come up with such cool lyrics from?!” and finally they end off the song singing together “Don’t stay on the Ground!”
SONG MEANING 1: We’ve got to always bounce and jump higher into life. Find yet higher levels of meaning and fulfillment.
SONG MEANING 2: Everyone goes through different times in their life. Sometimes were down on the ground. We’re driving around in our downbeat Cadillac pickup truck. And life is going ok. But we feel a lack of fulfillment. That’s when we need to jump, and not stay on the ground. And then sometimes we get hit over the head with a hammer. (Figuratively speaking) So it’s at this point after we’ve taken this terrible blow that we don’t feel like getting up again. But we’ve got to be like a rubber ball. A rubber ball will always bounce back up after it hits the ground. Then finally there’s the times when were up high in the air! We’re doing unbelievably well in every aspect in life! We’re seeing a lot of success; it’s at this point that we must be careful not to let our egos rise too high. We see this concept by Pesach. When we bake the dough for Matzah we are not allowed to let the dough rise too high, since the Matzah represents the humble poor man’s bread. WOW! What a beautiful message this song has!
3 .HARMONY: This song is also short. But it too is extremely deep and haunting. The music is simple. And it really has a Journeys-Abie Rottenberg feel to it. The music is made up only of piano and guitar. I honestly believe this song may actually bring Moshiach. It starts off sounding like a country song. Then Shmuli begins singing the lyrics “Alone I’ve been known to sing but it’s not the same as singing with you.” But as the song goes on it starts sounding more and more like a kumtzitz song. Right in the beginning there’s a small piano piece which reminds me a lot of the haunting beginning of Abie Rottenberg’s Memories. I think this song would be perfect camp Cantata.
At 1:22# Shmuli sings the chorus “Life is so much better In harmony together” and Bentzi starts doing really beautiful harmonies. At 1:30 Benzi does a really beautiful little guitar piece. And then finally at 4:04 they do the final “Life is so much better in harmony together!” And this time they’re both singing it together in equal harmony as a duet! Bottom line, if this song doesn’t touch your soul and make you a better more caring person than no song will! My word!
SONG 4. DIDAN: This song which runs at 3 minutes and 35 seconds is the shortest song on the album. The song itself is a victory song. The lyrics paint us a very descriptive picture of the final coming of Moshiach. The song starts off with what sounds like the background music in a final bad guy good guy showdown in a movie. It kind of gets your heart pumping! The music and lyrics keep building up until they reach the chorus. At 50 seconds in you hear both brothers chanting the final victory song! “DIDAN DIDAN!! Which is followed by a really cool synthesized electronic sounding tune and a nice lttle nanana Nigun! The meaning of the original words DIDAN NUTZACH is we will be victorious! As I’m listening to this song now I’m picturing the Jewish people everywhere all tired out and ready to collapse after fighting the final battles of the birth pangs of Mashiach. The battlefield is looking dark and almost hopeless. When suddenly from out of the dust come the Marcus brothers come riding up the hill wearing black leather jackets and big helmets. On a shiny silver Harley Davidson! Shmuli is calling out to everyone as he passes by “DIDAN!!!” from a huge Megaphone!! And Benzi is blowing a golden trumpet and waving a giant victory flag with the words DIDAN painted in bright yellow. Suddenly the people lying there in the muddy battlefields feel a new energy pulsating throughout their veins. They sing in unison DIDAN NETZACH WE CAN DO IT!!! WE CAN DO IT!! The VICTORY IS OURS!!
SONG 5: MAY YOU BE BLESSED: This is by far my favorite song on the album!! It is such a deep hauntingly powerful song based on the words of Ashes Chayil. And I must say I really can’t recall hearing such a beautiful English song since Memories from Journeys. The song lyrics speak about the woman of valor. How despite all of the sleepless nights she endures for her family and pain she endures through her powerful faith and determination. I just want to say Marcus brothers, from the bottom of my heart Thank you so much!!! I will NEVER sing Ashes Chayil the same way again ever! I never really ever thought so deeply into these words before!! I can’t even begin to describe what a powerful and deep song this is!! All I can say is WOW!!
The song itself starts with a bit of slow guitar which sounds like the beginning of a sad emotion filled country song. And then the song starts almost immediately singing about what the woman of valor goes through and then the high part MAY YOU BLESSED!!! which is sung with such feeling and meaning that it actually sends chills up my spine!
SONG6.ALL YOU GOT: Now we arrive at the title song of the album. This song is just plain AWESOME!! It’s a very, very serious message delivered in a rock song! It’s in this song that we can see the full extent of the Marcus brother’s awesome humor and playfulness! The concept is that god gave us only certain situations and tools and talents. And our job is to take those things and achieve whatever we can! A very deep message indeed! But the true brilliance is how they deliver the message in such a playful fun way!! As I’m listening to the song now I’m picturing Shmuli dancing all around the studio with a huge grin on his face as he tosses his hat in the air! Bentzi is now strumming and swinging back and forth with all his might!! My favorite line is the last line in the song. “No need to put my album on the shelf to rot! Just give it all you got!!” AWESOME!!!!
SONG MEANING 1: Every person in every situation is given exactly what they need to accomplish their goals. So use whatever you have and “Give it all you got”!
SONG MEANING 2: Sometimes through singing and humor you can successfully deliver the deepest most meaningful messages!
SONG 7.THE MONEY ROOM: This simple song reminds me a lot of Simon and Garfunkel. I also hear a faint resemblance to the Music Man. But either way this song definitely brings me back to a different Era! The song is about “The money room” The money room is a room in the shul where the rich people drop off money and the poor people take money. And the idea is privacy of giving. And as the lyrics so aptly explain “No one can ever know-if they’re a taker with a plight. And, no one can ever know-if their giver in the night.
The song starts off with nice country sounding guitar riff. And it is then, as the vocals begin that we get a real taste of Shmulis sweet voice. I am picturing him now wearing a cowboy hat and bandanna. In this song in particular you can hear his beautiful Southern drawl! In real life he doesn’t have such an accent. But he piles it on in this song! He starts off telling us all about this money room in the shul of the town he grew up in. But my favorite part is when he sings the words “No one Can eeeeever Know!!” Love how he drawls out the “Ever” He sings it with every bit of feeling that he possesses! Also love how they use the same phrase over “The old man was laughing”. (Originally they used that line on Brooklyn in Cat eye glasses which is another unbelievable song!)
SONG MEANING 1: In life many times there are poor people who are too embarrassed to take charity. So the lesson that we learn from the money room is that when we do give charity, it should be done privately and in a way that does not embarrass the taker.
SONG MEANING 2. The money room is also a reference to our lives in this world. We all go about our lives doing things publicly. Doing good deeds. Doing business deals etc. But when it comes to your private life only god really knows what’s really going on. Who is really giving and who is really in need. But only god really knows cuz “on the outside, yeah, were all the same with our smiles, cigars and our picture frames.”
SONG8. THE RABBIS SON: This sad song is about a boy in Russia who had been the Rabbis son. But unfortunately had been drafted to the Russian army and lost all connections with his faith. But the song also delivers a message of hope. That even though right now he looks out of place with his “long jeans and blue hair” still if you “Just sing me this song just One more time maybe I’ll understand.”
SONG MEANING 1. Unfortunately today we live in a world where many people were brought up without any connection to their roots. But sometimes we just have to “Sing them this song (the song of our heritage) just one more time” because we never realize when we could make an impact.
SONG MEANING 2. Many times there are people who don’t even know where their coming from. And even if to you they look irreligious. Many times they have already sacrificed everything, their status, their money, family, etc. just to get to where they are today.(“I’ve searched the whole world for this place”) The message I believe is that instead of feeling pity and hopelessness about how far they are we instead have to bring them closer with love! They already came so far and overcame all their shame just to sit here in a religious shul with you! So it is truly our holy obligation to teach them with true love. And instead of just preaching endlessly, Sometimes its better just to “sing them this song just one more time and maybe they’ll understand! And I believe that that this is exactly what the Marcus brothers are doing! No matter where were all holding in our religion, they are “singing us all this song just one more time!!”
Song9. CHEERY BIM: As the title indicates this is a very cheery and upbeat song! The song is about loyalty. It’s about sticking together through thick and thin. The difference between this song and harmony is that this is the next level after we’ve already joined together in harmony. Now we’ve got to stick it out and remain together! The song itself is very very catchy and fun to sing! This song may yet become a Major hit! Simple and fun! I already hear many people singing it everywhere! The high part goes. I say Chidy! You say Bum! We say Chidy Chidy Bum!
SONG MEANING 1: We must stick together not only in the times of sorrow. Not only when others need our encouragement. But also in the times of joy. We must celebrate and congratulate one another. And sometimes when we want to things ourselves, and were not in the mood of working together with others, still it sometimes can be a great thing to get someone else’s participation and working together as a team. That is real unity!
SONG MEANING 2: Chidy by itself is a meaningless word. Bum is well… just a worthless bum! But when they join together… then you have a Chidy Bum!! A Wonderful awesome… CHIDY BUM!!!
SONG 10. BY MY SIDE: I would define this song in one word. Nostalgia. This song is a song of yearning. It’s about how we never can do anything without gods help. It’s interesting to note that Shmulis voice sounds a lot different on this song. I think it’s the mic. or some kind of studio shtick. I’m not sure. But whatever it is, it’s awesome! It sounds like he’s singing on the radio in the 1960s. In fact this whole song is a throwback to an earlier simple more nostalgic time.
THE song starts off with both brothers chanting the high part” That’s when I lift my eyes to the sky, dreaming of days gone by.” Then Shmuli comes on in that old radio voice singing” Sometimes life’s like an ocean.” After the melody. They sing the chorus together “That’s when I lift my eyes.” Over all, I would say this is a simple song with a powerful message!
SONG MEANING 1: The lyrics of this song compare life to an Ocean.”Sometimes life’s like an ocean, the sweetest quietest blue. Sometimes life’s like an ocean, raging like a fool.” The simple yet beautiful message I believe is that we need God “by our side”. Whether life is easy, smooth sailing or especially in the rougher times when the Rivers of life “come to surround us.”
SONG MEANING 2: There’s a saying that “there’s no atheists in the foxholes.” Of course when life gets rough we call out to God. But sometimes when life is going good we need to look back with nostalgia on the earlier times. Times, perhaps when life wasn’t as pleasant or as joyful as it is now. And we must realize that we are only here now, because God was always at our side from the beginning.
SONG RATING: 8.5
SONG 11. MANHATTAN 2.0: This fast rock song is actually a remake of their original Manhattan song from Tracht Gut.(They actually were originally thinking of calling this song Taase” Vi Iz geven Az de gelt iz geven?” And then at 22 seconds in suddenly us get Shmuli calling out “Lamer aleh nemin a Tzigeeses!!” then the song starts up with a solid rocking drum beat as they both singing together. Then the high part comes on with Shmuli singing with a scary energy Taaseh Li Tovah Eastern Parkway. Taaseh Li Tovah. Manhattan. Then come my favorite part! the lyrics “Taaseh li Tovah. You’re blocking my driveway!” So random. So unexpected and yet so cool! I saw them sing this song live in Manalapan NJ. And to see them perform this is a very very special treat! It’s amazing how the vocals keep going back and forth between the two brothers and equally amazing how Shmuli literally jumps up and down as if he’s on a pogo stick and moves ALL OVER THE STAGE! Unbelievable talent! Throughout this entire song and especially towards the end we get mind blowing Guitar work from Bentzi!
SONG MEANING 1: The song is actually listing different things that happen in Manhattan. And that we have to grab at life’s opportunities when they come, because after it just may be too late.
SONG MEANING 2: Okay. I’ll admit, when I got to this song I was totally stumped! I had no clue what was happening in this song. I knew it had something to do with Manhattan, driveways, gelt (money), and Rav Hirsch. Pretty random stuff if you ask me! Maybe Rav Hirsch got stuck in a driveway with no gelt? So anyways I sent out for possible explanations to a lot of the big music guys on twitter. @Yossizweig @lchaimmusic @jmhock and @musicdrinker just to name a few. Well, I got some answers. But the main lesson that I learned from this song was that you don’t always have to understand everything! And I believe that is one of the messages that the brothers are trying to deliver with this song! Oh. And also there’s one other thing that I learned from this song .And that is, that No matter where you are. Be it Manhattan or Eastern Parkway, PLEASE! Don’t block someone’s driveway!
Summary: First of all, yes. I know this review is long but being that the title is what it is, I figured I would give it ALL I GOT! Anyways, bottom line, this album is probably one of the deepest most beautiful and most meaningful albums you’re going to hear in a long time!! So run out to the store and grab it NOW!!!!