Even the theme to Gilligan's Island? Yes.
September 12, 2014 10:01 AM   Subscribe

Adon Olam is a 12th century Jewish hymn traditionally sung at the end of Sabbath services in both Ashkenazic and Sephardic congregations. Maybe you’ve heard Uzi Hitman’s disco version, which electrified the 1970’s. But what may be most inspiring about the prayer is that it can fit to pretty much any melody. Here it is to Pharrell’s Happy. Here it is to Gilbert and Sullivan's Modern Major General. Here’s the Cups song. Even Amazing Grace.

Want to hear it done to Summer Lovin' from the musical Grease?

How about Wish You Were Here?
Royals
Wrecking ball
I want it that way
Save Tonight
Sloop John B
Stars and Stripes Forever

Music Teacher Amichai Margolis did a new one a week, sometimes with his students, including
Call me Maybe
Man of Constant Sorrow,
Jason Mraz’s I’m Yours,
and oh yeeah, Survivor’s Eye of the Tiger

If you still want more, here's a list with some sound files (including the theme to Underdog).
Here's how it sounds on the Argentine charango.
More variations from around the world.

Shabbat shalom!
posted by Mchelly (44 comments total) 27 users marked this as a favorite
 
"At War with Satan" scans poorly though. More's the pity.
posted by clvrmnky at 10:12 AM on September 12, 2014 [1 favorite]


Is “Uzi Hitman” a plausible Israeli name?
posted by acb at 10:12 AM on September 12, 2014 [5 favorites]


House of the Rising Sun, too.
posted by whimsicalnymph at 10:16 AM on September 12, 2014 [1 favorite]


Transliterated it's actually Uzi Chitman. But his wikipedia page is under Hitman, so that's what I used.
posted by Mchelly at 10:16 AM on September 12, 2014 [2 favorites]


I independently discovered, a few months ago, that Adon Olam perfectly matches the melody for "Your Cheatin' Heart." I have been driving our synagogue choir director crazy ever since.
posted by ubiquity at 10:18 AM on September 12, 2014 [3 favorites]


"I'd Like To Teach The World To Sing" aka "I'd Like To Buy The World A Coke" was the canonical "let your hair down" Adon Olam melody in my Hebrew School, mid 1980s.
posted by escabeche at 10:19 AM on September 12, 2014


I think this might be more interesting or entertaining to a person with the background of hearing the hymn over and over for most of their lives

I've heard it maybe a total of 5 times in my life and it's still hilarious. There's just something pleasing about the way it scans correctly to so many different tunes. It's okay not to care about it or think it's neat, but it seems odd to assume that it has something to do with one's background.
posted by poffin boffin at 10:24 AM on September 12, 2014


OH MY GOD. I thought my sister and I were the only ones who did this. We used to sing it to the Jeopardy theme, among other tunes.
posted by Ben Trismegistus at 10:29 AM on September 12, 2014 [5 favorites]


For the Goyim, Amazing Grace is compatible with the exact same songs.
posted by whimsicalnymph at 10:31 AM on September 12, 2014 [4 favorites]


But what may be most inspiring about the prayer is that it can fit to pretty much any melody.

What, no Guile's Theme? Surely there's some Jewish fighting-game nerds out there.

(Although I guess Adon's Theme would probably be more appropriate...)
posted by Strange Interlude at 10:37 AM on September 12, 2014 [1 favorite]


I don't think I even know the actual melody to Adon Olam. I can only hear it as one of the superimposed versions, usually Rock Around The Clock.
posted by threeants at 10:41 AM on September 12, 2014 [3 favorites]


Jewish fighting-game nerds

My call to destiny and I'm at the office.
posted by griphus at 10:41 AM on September 12, 2014 [7 favorites]


I think if you explain they'll understand
posted by poffin boffin at 10:43 AM on September 12, 2014 [3 favorites]


I remember an incident, many years ago at Camp Airy, when a couple of guys got in big trouble with camp administration for leading Adon Olam to the tune of the J. Geils Band's "Centerfold." Too risqué.

Scanned perfectly, though.
posted by Faint of Butt at 10:43 AM on September 12, 2014 [3 favorites]


God damn it and I just wasted my hilarious "brother thought he was Jewish as a child" story here.
posted by Mrs. Pterodactyl at 10:44 AM on September 12, 2014 [3 favorites]


A friend has been doing amateur videos of Adon Olam, sung to Billy Joel, Michael Bolton and a couple of other songwriters' tunes. It's been entertaining to watch. Thanks so much for this. Gonna forward to him for inspiration.
posted by zarq at 10:44 AM on September 12, 2014 [1 favorite]


Adon olam asher Malach --
Beterem kol -- yetzir Nivra --
Le'et Nasah vcheftso Kol --
Azai Melech sh'mo Nikra!

Emily Dickinson, "Adon Olam"
posted by threeants at 10:45 AM on September 12, 2014 [9 favorites]


Faint of Butt, I was at Camp Airy in the mid-80s and was a counselor there in the early 90s. It may well have been me. :)
posted by Ben Trismegistus at 10:45 AM on September 12, 2014 [4 favorites]


For the Goyim, Amazing Grace is compatible with the exact same songs.

What was that comedian's name... oh yeah. Rob Parovian: Pachelbel Rant
posted by zarq at 10:45 AM on September 12, 2014 [2 favorites]


This is hilarious. I have many bizarre memories of putting Adon Olam to different tunes.
posted by roomthreeseventeen at 10:50 AM on September 12, 2014


This song brought me so much joy as a youngster...it let me know services were finally about to end.
posted by The Gooch at 11:03 AM on September 12, 2014 [7 favorites]


Yasher Koach!
posted by benito.strauss at 11:03 AM on September 12, 2014 [1 favorite]


I once heard Adon Olam done to the MASH theme song. It was pretty great.
posted by leesh at 11:04 AM on September 12, 2014 [1 favorite]


This song brought me so much joy as a youngster...it let me know services were finally about to end.

Oseh Shalom and Adon Olam. Then, kiddush.
posted by zarq at 11:05 AM on September 12, 2014 [3 favorites]


My favorite was singing Adon Olam to Greensleeves.
posted by leahwrenn at 11:06 AM on September 12, 2014


I tried so, so hard to find any clip of someone doing it to Smells Like Teen Spirit, but so far it remains underground
posted by Mchelly at 11:10 AM on September 12, 2014


Now I am having a hard time remembering what the original tune was. Loved the Wish You Were Here
posted by 724A at 11:19 AM on September 12, 2014


Faint of Butt, I was at Camp Airy in the mid-80s and was a counselor there in the early 90s. It may well have been me. :)

In that case, I apologize for being a little jerk in my early adolescence. Not that you would remember me, being just one little jerk in a crowd of hundreds of little jerks, but still, I apologize.
posted by Faint of Butt at 11:20 AM on September 12, 2014 [1 favorite]


To this Catholic raised atheist, who'd never consciously heard the song before today, I think the insertions are both brilliant and hilarious (I hope 'hilarious' is fair, it seems to be commonly done enough with Jewish singers to suggest that it isn't culturally blasphemous or mocking.)

I would liken it to the many metal/ rock/ techno songs that use Gospel. Sometimes two things just go unexpectedly well together.

Though now I want to hear it combined with some KMFDM or Clutch. Because that would be musical chocolate and peanut butter.
posted by quin at 11:21 AM on September 12, 2014 [1 favorite]


I can never get the repeat back one out of my head, since that was the one I grew up with. I had no idea that it fit with almost any melody. Now I'm going to be singing Adon Olam to the Dead Milkmen, Punk Rock Girl all day.
posted by Sophie1 at 11:23 AM on September 12, 2014 [3 favorites]


Weird. Despite years of Hebrew School I don't recall this song at all. Maybe I only hear it as other songs now.
posted by Room 641-A at 11:26 AM on September 12, 2014


The Lone Ranger was one of our favorites as kids, because while it fit perfectly, you had to really plan ahead if you wanted to sing it as well as breathe.
posted by Mchelly at 11:44 AM on September 12, 2014


For some special bonus content, there's been a trend in the past few years to start singing various Jewish stuff to the tune of Leonard Cohen's Hallelujah (and a bunch of debate as to the appropriateness of doing so). There have been a bunch of Leonard Cohen-themed Shabbat services at various synagogues. A few samples for your listening pleasure:

- The Maccabeats: Lecha Dodi
- Psalm 150 (Hallelu) by Max Chaiken
- Psalm 146 by a USY group
- The IDF Choir (which clearly has some pretty high performance standards for a military band!) performs a Hebrew translation of Cohen's lyrics
- Who By Fire in Hebrew (the start of the lyrics come from the Rosh Hashanah liturgy) by Ofer Golany
- Another Who By Fire from Tempel Synagogue in Krakow

As a sidenote, the fine-sounding people at Mishkan Chicago have been filling up a SoundCloud account with various Jewish liturgical tunes, with a particular focus on the High Holidays. Well worth a listen if you're interested in that kind of thing.
posted by zachlipton at 11:51 AM on September 12, 2014 [2 favorites]




The go to version when I was growing up was singing it to Simon and Garfunkel's Sounds of Silence, which also works I think.
posted by wittgenstein at 1:22 PM on September 12, 2014


At the very end of Yom Kippur services, to let everybody know it was time to relax, my college Hillel would do it to the tune of Sloop John B. I always put in the echoey bits.
posted by ostro at 4:53 PM on September 12, 2014


Is “Uzi Hitman” a plausible Israeli name?

For a children's entertainer? Of course!
posted by ocschwar at 5:09 PM on September 12, 2014


Dayenu!
posted by The Wrong Kind of Cheese at 10:00 PM on September 12, 2014


How much do I love this post? My sister and I used to sing "Adon Olam" to different tunes - yes, including "Smells Like Teen Spirit."

In my synagogue, we've sung it to the tune of "Hatikvah" around Israel's Independence Day, and "The Star-Spangled Banner" - I can't remember if that was right after September 11, 2001, or around September 11, 2002. And my boyfriend's congregation sang it to the tune of "The Addams Family" one year when Shabbat fell on Halloween night.

This song brought me so much joy as a youngster...it let me know services were finally about to end.
.
Oseh Shalom and Adon Olam. Then, kiddush.


I always used to perk up around Ein Keloheinu back in the day. That signaled the last part of the service: Ein Keloheinu, then Aleinu, then Mourner's Kaddish, then announcements, then Adon Olam, then kiddush. : )
posted by SisterHavana at 1:02 AM on September 13, 2014 [2 favorites]


Growing up, there were three or four of us, young Jewish kids with pretty decent voices, and we were usually shuffled up on the bima to lead the last three prayers, including Adon Olam. We had a pretty good amount of harmony going, and we'd always try out new versions of it. Later on, my voice changed, wasn't as good, and we moved on. Then, in USY (ahem, Central Region for life and all) we got to see the huge variety of ways to sing all the different prayers. Suicide is Painless (the MASH theme) was one of my favorites, so much lower key than most of the other versions I heard.

I'm not going to lie, I'm very, very far removed from the faith now*, but oh! oh I do miss the joyousness of singing, of prayer so happily with a shul full of people singing, praying the same thing. I miss the community. I miss the rituals, the Seder, the procession of the torah around during the high holidays. I miss the hell out of it, but the few times I've let myself get dragged to something or other, I've felt like an imposter, and while I know no one is going to stand up, point at me, and do the Donald Sutherland screech, deep inside of me, the kid who led the prayers, who people said should have gone to Yeshiva, who enjoyed discussing Talmud and Mishnah on Friday nights at the yearly weeklong camp, that kid is calli bullshit on me, glaring at me, and in general being so, so very disappointed in how he turns out.


*I sincerely don't want to start a massive derail, but one of the things that caused me to walk away came about from not really understanding Hebrew. Every Saturday, during the Torah portion, I would sit and read the English translation of whatever portion we were doing that week. I'd keep reading during the haftorah, because I had no clue about that, either. I'd read, and read, and then it would be time for singing again, and those prayers, well I'd learned those in Hebrew school, and I knew what they were all about, love, devotion, gratitude and the rest. At some point, though, the utter viciousness of the Old Testament god started to get to me. Here we are, I thought, singing about how much we love god, when god, time and time again, outright says we are awful, unworthy, etc. I couldn't figure out how to reconcile all of the loving prayers to such a hateful god. And, seriously those are some absolutely beautiful prayers, and from the second I saw the words Adon Olam in the FPP, I could hear it in my head.
posted by Ghidorah at 3:52 AM on September 13, 2014 [6 favorites]


Aww, this brings back eighteen years of memories, going to shul every Saturday morning and singing one of the half dozen or so tunes that made the rounds in my synagogue. I never realised the Uzi Hitman version was new; we used to have a lot of fun with that one going as fast as you can through the middle bits. We did Happy Birthday a couple of times, and the English translation once, and I think a couple of other ones too.
posted by katrielalex at 8:31 AM on September 13, 2014 [1 favorite]


Ghidorah - for much the same reasons that you describe, I am a rabbinical school drop-out. I have often thought about attending a secular humanist synagogue, but it just hasn't happened yet. I miss some of it also.
posted by Sophie1 at 8:32 AM on September 13, 2014 [1 favorite]


This is all fascinating, but I can't help but feel a little bait-and-switched. Which of these links actually has it to the Gilligan's Island theme?
posted by kafziel at 12:23 PM on September 13, 2014 [2 favorites]


Oh gosh, we used to do the Gilligan's Island one all the time, usually while riding in the car between errands. We definitely did Underdog sometimes, too, and Yankee Doodle. The recordings are only there to back up the general theory.

Ghidorah, I am right there with you on most of that. Even Jewnitarianism isn't quite right.
posted by mneekadon at 2:02 PM on September 13, 2014 [1 favorite]


« Older The Bezier Game   |   Where have you gone John Williams? A nation turns... Newer »


This thread has been archived and is closed to new comments