In Memoriam

This past Pesach, I invited everyone who was coming to our Seder to share  the lyrics of a song which while not written for Pesach or in reference to the Exodus, still resonated with them as we gathered for the celebration of freedom.

As one who has frequently written midrash on contemporary music, it was an easy task for me to fulfill but I searched to find something a bit more surprising, a bit less obvious. I settled on this verse from one of my favorite songs:

On the other side of town a boy is waiting with fiery eyes and dreams no one could steal.              She drives on through the night anticipating that he’ll make her feel the way she used to feel.      She rushes to his arms, they fall together. She whispers that it’s only for a while.                                She swears that soon she’ll be coming back forever. She pulls away and leaves him with a smile.”

These words do have a connection with Pesach. We have to look at the entire story of the Exodus, as many of our ancient rabbis did, as the beginning of a love story between God and the people of Israel and as Mt. Sinai being the “wedding ceremony” which we recreate every time we read Torah.  Then, disregarding for a moment the fact that the woman in the story is sneaking away from her husband to meet her lover, the words are so heartwarming. As we return as a people to that point of close relationship with God remembering “how we used to feel” during the Exodus and swearing that we won’t stray so far this time, that we’ll be “back soon”, it reminds us of the continued cycle of our Jewish year offers us many moments besides the Seder to feel the closeness we felt at that point of the beginning of our love.

I sang that verse at the Seder.

I’ll be honest. I picked the song because I love it. Lyin’ Eyes is one of my favorites; so are Take It To the Limit, Peaceful Easy Feeling, One of These Nights, New Kid in Town and…of course, Desperado.

I quoted that last one in a song one Rosh Hashana when speaking about the need for community: “And freedom, oh freedom, well that’s just some people talkin’
Your prison is walking through this world all alone”

But, there I go again. This really isn’t about sermons or Pesach seder midrashim.  It’s about the music and the words and the magic that comes when it all fits together so well, when you can’t get the tune out of your mind, when you relate it to events in your life or to people you knew, when you remember when you were young and had more energy, more mobility (it doesn’t help that I’m struggling with a strained knee ligament right now) and a longer future.

All of my favorite musicians have added so much to my life. From Harry Chapin to the Beatles to Paul Simon to all the others, they have enriched my life with meaning and with joy.

I have always loved the Eagles. I play and sing their songs often. But I never really thought about how much and how deeply I loved their words and music. Believe me, I’m thinking about it today.

May Glenn Frey rest in peace. May we continue to sing his songs and may we never take for granted how much our music means to our lives.




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5 responses to “In Memoriam

  1. Laurel Federbush

    “Lyin’ Eyes” is my favorite Eagles song, because I like the music and also because the words are intriguing. The characters are all complex, not exactly good or bad, but realistic. Anyway, that’s a nice tribute to Glenn Frey.

    • Honestly, Laurel, I think that Lyin’ Eyes is, for its genre (which I love), as close to a perfect song as I have ever heard. The vocal harmonies, the lyrics and most of all, the musical phrases played between lines of the song are just absolutely fantastic. I have often said to myself (and occasionally to others) that if I could ever choose any song that I could sing along with any band, it would be Lyin’ Eyes. I just love it. Thanks!

  2. Laurel Federbush

    Just one other thing to add: I think I’m the exception to what you said in your sermon. I prefer hearing modern pop music to the music I grew up with. Because music from the past tends to remind me of stages in my life I no longer want to be associated with. The music I like now represents me at a happier stage in my life.

  3. I appreciate your comment and think you’re right. This isn’t universal in everyone’s life. But, beyond that, I was speaking in generalities about the fact that when we are young, there are more possibilities in front of us and usually some more idealism and the music brings back that spirit that we all need: to believe and to still allow ourselves to dream. I think that the “old songs” so to speak, our tradition, when we go back to it, gives us the will to continue to dream and to hope.

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