Eit HaZamir (2016) is a collection of songs that my wife, Rabbi Loren Filson Lapidus, and I co-wrote for various family simchas and life cycle events. Though we lovingly and purposefully composed these songs specifically for bothers, sisters, cousins, and friends, we recorded them knowing that others would find meaning in them as well. Over the years we’ve performed these songs many times, not at family celebrations, but in our professional roles as well. Here are a few notes from us about each song including personal recollections as well as thoughts about how others might use them. We’ll proceed track by track.
Zeh Hayom is the only song that Micah has recorded twice. It appears as the opening track on Be a Blessing (2013) and is also the opener on Eit HaZamir. The Hebrew text comes from Psalm 118. Conveying a beautiful message of gratitude and celebration, Zeh Hayom is really a perfect fit for any simcha. We’ve sung Zeh Hayom at our son, Caleb’s, bris, siblings Zach and Ali’s wedding and Jeff and Tanya’s wedding, our 10th anniversary celebration, and cousins Jordan and Lauren’s wedding. We’ve also sung it at Shabbat and it is used as part of the processional medley at Davis Academy graduation each year. The version on Eit HaZamir differs from Be a Blessing where there are additional English lyrics.
The title track of the album, Eit HaZamir, is based on a text from Song of Songs. A Zamir is a songbird. Thus, “the time of the songbird has arrived.” In other words, Spring. And with Spring come the reawakening of nature, love, beauty and so much more. Eit HaZamir was first used at our cousins Jeff and Dana’s wedding and many more since. Micah recalls singing it with a big group of people at our friends Bill and Tara’s wedding. This song fits beautiful during the Ketubah/ Bedecken part of the wedding ceremony but can also be used as processional music. The day that Will Robertson was mixing this track happened to be the day that the United States Supreme Court made marriage equality the law of the land. He noted how the lyrics and the feeling of the song captured the spirit of that historic moment.
Dodi Li also comes from the Song of Songs. The words are popular at both Jewish weddings and Shabbat. They celebrate the love between two people and/or the loving bond between God and the Jewish people. We envision it being used either as processional music or as part of a Shabbat service.
This is the first song we wrote for a family simcha. We wrote it for our siblings Daniel and Melissa’s wedding in August 2009. The Hebrew is woven together from two different sources. The words bruchim habaim b’shem Adonai, berachnu hem mibeit Adonai, mi adir al hakol, mi baruch al hakol come from the beginning of the wedding liturgy while the words zeh dodi v’zeh re’i (this is my beloved, this is my friend) come from Song of Songs. We incorporated the words zeh dodi v’zeh re’i several years earlier in our own tenaim and wedding invitation.
The words of the prophet Hosea are recited at two different times– upon wrapping tefillin and during the Erusin part of the wedding ceremony. We wrote this melody for our siblings Zach and Ali’s wedding. When thinking about the English we felt that the phrase, “I will hold you” captured the emotional meaning of the Hebrew, which is more commonly translated as, “I betroth.” We intentionally conclude with “I will hold you in this love” rather than “in this life” because, as we say to our daughter, love never dies. We also sang this song at our 10th anniversary celebration, surrounded by family and friends.
Music has always been an important of our lives. The arrival of our beautiful daughter, Hadara, in 2011, was truly a cause for song. Hadara inspired several songs in us but this is the one that really stuck. For many months we sang it to her at bedtime and still sing it occasionally at Shabbat when she isn’t impatient for challah. With a bit of imagination part of the Hebrew can be changed to switch the blessing from being the parental blessing for a daughter to the parental blessing for a son.
By the time we performed this song at our nephew, Sammy’s, bris we knew that we would, a few months later, be doing the same at Caleb’s. It’s a joyous song that can be used at any naming ceremony where there is an “Elijah’s Chair.” The words are part of the traditional brit milah liturgy.
God Bless the Child
Not written for a family life cycle event, “God Bless the Child” is based on the passage in Genesis where Jacob blesses his sons and grandsons. Knowing that death is near, Jacob prays that the angel that watched over him and kept him from harm do the same for his descendants. Initially I had intended to include a different song on this album that I wrote when I heard that my grandfather, Harold Lapidus, had finally passed away after several years of home care. When I chose not to include that song, this song took its place in my mind. The melody and vibe are meant to evoke a classic gospel tune.
Chosson’s Tisch Niggun
When it came time for our siblings Jeff and Tanya to get married we really wanted to mark the occasion with a song. As we helped them shape an authentic ceremony it became clear to all of us that the groom’s tisch would be a particularly memorable part of the day. With that in mind we quickly put together this melody, intentionally making it easy for all people, regardless of whether this was their first or hundredth Jewish wedding, to join in. At the tisch we used it to help break up the many toasts and speeches. With each repeat the rowdiness increased. This is a great piece to use during a tisch because it’s easy to sing and can help break the ice. Obviously you’ll want to insert the names of the actual bride and groom. We felt it was important to use Jeff and Tanya’s names in the recorded version.
I Love You it’s the Way (Demo and Full Version)
Track 10 features a 2 1/2 year old Hadara Lapidus singing a song with her toy guitar to entertain her infant brother. She knew then and Micah knew as well that it would one day be a delightful song. Eventually Loren warmed up to the idea too and it became one of the most delightful songs we’ve ever written together. We hope that we will have the chance to dance to it at Hadara’s bat mitzvah, and many more joyous occasions to come.It’s the kind of song that you can envision being used at a wedding reception when the DJ tries to figure out which couple in the room has been married the longest. Here’s the video that you can hear on track 10. Particularly fateful is the fact that the full version of the song was unintentionally written and recorded in the same key and at the same tempo as Hadara sang it all those years ago.
We recorded the majority of the album in June of 2015 at Gallop Studios with Will Robertson, the immeasurably talented and wonderful producer that Micah has worked with on all 3 of his projects. Loren completed 99% of her tracking in about 2 hours– not bad for a first trip to the studio! It took a minute or two to get the project to the finish line, thus the 2016 release date.