When I read that Country Yossi was coming out with a new album, I must admit it piqued my interest. I did not grow up with Country Yossi and the Shteeble Hoppers, and only heard “One Eyed One Eared Flying Lukshin Kugel Eater” a few times. I did grow up, however, with Kivi and Tuki, and my children love to watch the cute animated DVDs that have come out. Anytime one of my kids says he or she doesn’t want to go to school (or shul) I bet you know what song pops out of my mouth (for those who didn’t figure it
out, “I don’t want to go to shul, I don’t want to go to school every day”)! Since I am an out of towner, I have not been raised on the radio show or magazine and my exposure to Country Yossi’s work is quite limited. Nevertheless, seeing that Country Yossi and the Shteeble Hoppers Ride Again was about to be released, I could not wait to hear what Yossi Toiv, better known as Country Yossi, came up with this time. All I can say is that I was not disappointed in the least. While I am not going to critique the tunes themselves, or their origins when not originals, I think the words and messages really hit home, in many cases, and offer some much needed humor in others.
Here is my song by song assessment:
Oh Yonkel: It is unfortunately an epidemic amongst many of the finest shuls and communities aroundto talk and joke around in shul today, even during davening. Since this is not the time and place to give musser, I won’t. I just recommend you listen to the song while reading the words on the cover, and take heart to Country Yossi’s advice. We all want a place in Oilam Haba and one way to get there is to daven with kavana, say amein yehai shmei rabba, and of course, not talking during davening.
I Am The Flower: A beautiful song composed by Country Yossi, and based on a medresh, highlighting our mortality and Hakadosh Boruch Hu’s greatness. It’s the time of the year when we are supposed to focus on Hakadosh Boruch Hu and recognizing his kingdom over the entire creation. Again, read the lyrics and you will come away with a beautiful explanation and something to build upon in this daunting task.
Bashert: If it’s bashert, you will like this song! Ok, that was pretty bad, but this really gets into deeper topics and concepts then I feel comfortable discussing, so it’s not bashert that I really comment on it.
Boro Park: As an out of towner, going to Boro Park is a vacation for me (and shopping trip for my wife), but it is an amazing experience. I am not sure I would be able to handle it on a daily basis, but getting everything for me, my wife and all our kids just by walking up and down 15th avenue is pretty amazing. Of course minyanim all day and night (and some awesome places to eat too) just add to the experience. It’s a humorous song, and it really hits the spot!
Rav Shmuel and the Myrtle Twig: A gemara that makes two very strong points: the virtues of being mesamayach chassan and kallah, and the power of doing a mitzvah with the purest of intentions.
Seven Shabbos Candles: The lighting of the Shabbos candles is something special for all the Yiddishe Mammas all over the world. May the light of the Shabbos candles shine within us from week to week!
The Little Old Lady Named Pessy Deena: A very cute parody, but a little unrealistic. All the cleaning ladies I know are either named Maria or Marika, but since that doesn’t rhyme with Pasadena, I guess for the song Pessy Deena had to do.
Shabbos Goy: Another very funny song that hits home. The “conversation” in the middle of the song is hilarious, and come on, who hasn’t had the same or similar conversation before!
Good Morning Klal Yisroel: A song highlighting some of the many different parts of our wonderful heritage and another song worth listening to with the words in front of you.
There Is A Place: Another touching and uplifting song, dealing with the World to Come, and its eternity.
I’m Proud to be Part of Am Yisroel: A very true depiction to Am Yisroel being the “chosen people”. The song itself has a very “country” feel to it, how fitting for Country Yossi.
Somewhere Moshiach: We are all yearning for Moshiach! This is another beautiful song that the words deserve to be read over and over again.
Elan Elan: Many songs have been written over the years with the Hebrew words Elan, and Country Yossi manages to convey the meaningful feelings behind this chazal.
Poseiach: The one Hebrew song on the album is enhanced by child prodigy Yehuda Turner. A nice song, sung by a sweet voice, is a perfect way to complete this album.
All in all, this is a CD with 14 songs that is sure to entertain and get you thinking at the same time, and in my opinion a must buy.