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[HANASHIR:9582] Mike Isaacson's Mah Gadlu

I thought I would cross-post the following, by me, from the ACC Cantors 
Listserve.  I know Judah Cohen is out there, (not to mention Mike Isaaccson
himself, who I hope will correct any historical inaccuracies) and that there
are others who enjoy the historical perspective on how our music got to
where it is today:

> Yes, Isaacson did write a version of Mah Gadlu; I'm not sure which of
> his books it's in, but it's in NFTY's 50 ....

As long as this was mentioned, it's worth noting that Mike Isaacson is
really the creator of Contemporary NFTY Music or Nusach America, or whatever
you want to call it.  I believe he wrote his first batch of songs in 1967 or
1968 (NFTY had sponsored a summer Arts Academy at Great Barrington, directed
by Ray Smolover, and Mike was a participant) including wonderful versions of
Lecha Dodi and Ahavat Olam, and of course Mah Gadlu, which I'm pretty sure
was the first big indigenous NFTY hit.  Debbie Friedman and yours truly
didn't start writing until the 70s.  Mike's "NFTY Folk Service" was a later
composition, from the early 1970s, when he was the resident composer at Kutz

I'm remembering a story told to me by Rabbi Jerry Brieger that one summer
Mike asked him to open a prayer book (UPB of course) to any page and Mike
would compose music to a text on that page - Mah Gadlu was the result.

Another story:  Around 1971 NFTY released a cassette that was the precursor
of the Songs NFTY Sings records.  Mah Galdu was one of the songs recorded at
a song session, but it was sung (in those days) in a very fast and rowdy way
(Nfty proto-punk? :-) so that Mike refused to allow it to be released.  Loui
Dobin and I re-recorded the song ourselves at Kutz in a softer style and
that's the version that was released.

Jeff Klepper

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