Tuesday, May 12, 2020

The Best Lag B'omer Songs

In this post, we'll look at the three most indispensable Lag B'omer songs, ranked in order, with clips to all of them provided.

Note: There are some links in this post that may generate small commissions for me if you click on them and make a purchase. Thanks in advance

Lag B'omer marks the end of the annual spring fast on haircuts and music, and while we still can't do very much about our hair during this ongoing Covid quarantine, there is nothing stopping us from enjoying some music. 

In fact, many schools and synagogues are hosting Zoom events and drive-through events to celebrate. But what are the best Lag B'omer songs? Really, there are only three and if you attend any Lag B'omer event of any size you're sure to hear them over and over again.  

Bar Yochai - THE WORST

Sample the Song

Format:  Extremely long and repetitive piyut, oddly beloved by people who tend to hate piyutim

Traditional tune: Beyond Boring! [But, please lets give credit to Moshe Skier for trying to improve it]

Overall DovBear ranking: Wow, does this song suck. I don't think even the best performer can make it bearable.  You want proof? Soul Farm are truly fantastic performers and their version isn't much good, though they can't be blamed for failing to make bearable something that is inherently unbearable.

L'kovod Hatana Ha'elokai - PERFECTLY FINE

Format: Long, repetitive random collection of verses, oddly beloved by people who tend to hate piyutim
Traditional tune: Not bad, not bad at all.
Overall DovBear ranking: A good song, that can be great in the hands of a talented artists. Unfortunately, I can't find such a performance on the Interwebs. You'll have to make do with this scratchy, difficult to enjoy version, though it offers the added fun of dancing Hasidim

Omar R. Akiva - THE BEST

Best version: Performed by Chilik Frank 

Source: Based on what is probably Rabbi Akiva's best, most famous and most important homily. See my discussion here.
Traditional tune: Awesome
Overall DovBear ranking: A great song, so great that even a terrible musician can't get it wrong. And boy are you in luck, because I have found a fantastic rendition of the song performed by Chilik Frank in which Reb Frank absolutely blows the doors off it. You're welcome. (Its just a shame that after about 3 minutes it cuts short, and turns into UGH Bar Yochai)

On the other hand, if you'd like to hear a version that does the opposite of blow the doors of things, you can listen to an a Capella group do a gentle, quiet folk version here.

Hey, are you hearing these songs for the first time? If so, I'm really curious to hear what you think of them. Please share your reactions in the thread.

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