The Chicago-based a cappella music group Listen Up! has given us some really great music, from this “Old Town Road” remix using the words of Dror Yikra, to this great a cappella cover of Matishyahu’s “Shine On You!”
The band brings delivers beautiful vocals and is one of the only Jewish co-ed a cappella groups in the viral video-making biz.
This year, the four members of Listen Up! couldn’t get together to make a new video due to social distancing, so they resorted to doing a social distancing video from the privacy of their own homes. (Hey, if it’s good enough for the Israel Philharmonic and the Maccabeats, it’s good enough for Listen Up!).
Steve Singer, Freddie Feldman, Kadi House, and Eli Nathan Taylor recorded a fantastic cover — in Yiddish! — of the Beatles’ hit “I Feel Fine,” “Ich Fil Feyn.” And while things are definitely not fine right now, this cover of the 1964 song is bound to make you feel a bit better. Maybe you can even get a little family dance session going!
So how did this Yiddish cover come to be? Well, it was all thanks to a cool older gentleman named Lane Rubinstein, who attends shul with Feldman. The two worked on the translation for the song while Feldman’s kids were in their Hebrew school classes.
“You can’t just drop English lyrics into Google Translate and use them (did you know Translate supports Yiddish?!), because things have to rhyme and fit into the right number of syllables,” Feldman tells me over e-mail.
“Once Lane and I had a complete translation, I then sent it around to a few different people who spoke Yiddish (my mother, our group director Steve Singer’s mother-in-law, my second-cousin in Montreal, etc),” he explains. “We made some little tweaks here and there and figured it was good to go.”
Fortunately, the group got to perform the song in front of Lane — Listen Up! gave their last pre-pandemic concert at his (and Feldman’s) synagogue, Beth Hillel Bnai Emunah in Wilmette, Ill. As Feldman tells me, it was an amazing experience.
Listen Up! dedicated this fresh and exciting Yiddish cover (another reminder of how beautiful the Jewish language is) to the first responders and all the people in the front lines, including healthcare professionals, and essential workers keeping everyone safe. “For everyone else: stay home and you’ll feel fine!” percussion and bass vocalist Singer reminds us.
May we all feel fine, stay home, and groove on to this song!