I’m Russian, Greek, Ukrainian, Jewish, and a bunch of other stuff, so it’s a bit hard for me to find cultural artefacts that come close to representing my experience in the world. But this album, which has been my favorite since I was 14 (yes, I was a nerdy kid, who would have guessed), comes as close as possible. It was recorded by an Estonian band who started their career in the Soviet Union, and was heavily influenced by old Russian love songs, the band’s leader Leonid Soybelman’s Jewish heritage and a whole slew of Mediterranean miscellanea. My favorite thing in the world is to recite one of the songs in Hebrew when I meet people from Israel: it’s some utter nonsense about vacuum cleaners and my kind of dad joke. It also lightens the mood in case we’ll fight over zionism later. My lifelong dream is to see Soybelman live (the band lives all over Europe and it’s harder to expect to see them together), because I somehow always missed him during his gigs in Moscow. Perhaps one day when I’m in a better place in life with my immigration sorted out I can go to Berlin and see him. Meanwhile, I’ll keep on listening to this.
Hey, Driver, Cool Down The Horses! by Ne Zhdali
Released: 1994, RecRec Music in Switzerland
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