Old Folks

Back around 1987, just prior to my rabbinic ordination and five years after I’d left behind my dreams of a career in music (‘tho only a few years since “Personals” ran off-Broadway), I was approached by Cantor Mark Horowitz with a delightful request. He wanted to hire me to write an intergeneration musical for his congregation to perform. “Generations,” as we called it, included material from lots of wonderful sources plus five new songs I wrote especially for the occasion. It celebrated life, finding humor and poignancy at every stage along the way.

“Generations” was performed twice (that I know of). Once in 1988 at Mark’s congregation, and a second time in 1995 at my congregation in Cleveland (Fairmount Temple).

The premise for “Old Folks” is that while there is much we consider disposable in our lives, there are also things we adore because they’re older. Sadly, human beings, as we age, are often seen as belonging in the disposable category. “Old Folks” advocates for cherishing the people in our life even moreso as the years pile on.

Two of the pieces from “Generations” became regular additions to the Beged Kefet repertoire. Seeing as how we were already passionate about the cause of treating the elderly with dignity, “Old Folks” was a natural fit (and fun to sing).

Here’s a video from what was actually Beged Kefet’s final performance in 2009. We wouldn’t sing together again until a brief reunion in 2023. As you can see, we had a pretty wonderful time whooping it up in front of our audiences. No, I’m not unrecognizable in the video; I’m playing piano off-screen.

Hope you enjoy it!


P.S. The mp3 recording and sheet music (lead sheet, piano-vocal score, and full ensemble arrangement) are available at Jonah’s Trading Post (https://jonahmac.org/old-folks). Your donation of any amount will be put to use in bringing the arts to others, effecting social change, and building Jewish life. The music is free – our way of saying thank you for being so nice.

P.P.S. If you want to learn more about Beged Kefet, visit https://www.billydreskin.net/or-zarua where I tell the whole story. You’ll also find links there to hear Beged Kefet’s three albums.