Behold, the playasax, a beautiful and strange musical toy from the beginning of last century. The Musical Box Society has a recording of what these strange instruments sound like. I have to admit, for something as strange and fantastic as the Playasax looks to be, I’m kind of bummed that it just sounds like a harmonica. If you, like me, have an affinity for strange and unique instruments, then check out the Rosenberg Library Museum post on these instruments.
Before my blueray player decided it didn’t like Netflix any longer I was enjoying Miss Fisher’s Mysteries. More than once, the credits started to roll and the accompanying song was delightful and fresh in a way that 1920s radio mixes are new and fresh. Being a popular show, of course the soundtrack is available commercially, however, I suspected that a lot of the songs would be freely available courtesy of the Internet Archive. I was right, and I made you a little mix of all the songs I could find for Season One with a script I have been dying to try.
I had a song stuck in my head. It was playing on a loop through most of the afternoon. I input the lyrics into a search box and found out that the primary refrain of my song was a movie: Yidl mitn Fidl or Yiddle with his Fiddle. According to the National Center for Jewish Cinema, Yidl mitn Fidl was “the most commercially successful musical in the history of the Yiddish cinema.” The story about a penniless father and daughter who become traveling musicians has songs, but not the song stuck in my head. There is a clip of “Yidl mitn Fidl” from the movie on the Jewish Women’s Archive and also a version by the Klezmer Quartett Heidelberg:
A cursory search of the internets found “Yiddle on your Fiddle play some Ragtime” by Irving Berlin.
This was also not the song stuck in my head. When I went home last night, I searched through our newly organized record collection for the song. I knew I had heard it in the house, on our little multi-function record machine. I was unsuccessful. Then, while watching Sense and Sensibility I had a brainstorm and went to our CD cabinet. I found Music From the Yiddish Radio Project and on it was Yidl mitn Fidl by the Barry sisters, and Eureka! That was it, so I share it with you. Enjoy!
While watching a crazy amount of British television programming I started wondering on the differences between the U.S.’s Hokey pokey and the U.K.’s Hokey cokey. It turns out its variations and history is much more interesting than I thought (Wikipedia). Some form of hokey pokey has been traced to the 17th century and it may have been thought up as a way to make fun of Catholic priests performing the tradition Latin mass. It has variations in Australia, the Philippines and Denmark. The modern U.K. version was printed in 1942, and may have been recorded around that time. The U.S. version was also recorded in the late 40s.
Rather sensibly, the U.K. considers the hokey cokey a traditional song. Insensibly, Sony holds the copyrights over the hokey pokey.