Thursday, March 15, 2007

ya, wena, matisyahu!

Will the disaffected Jewish youth lap up the irony at Matisyahu’s upcoming Cape Town gig? Will the mainstream be mainlining old school wisdoms or will they diss it as dogma? Will discerning music lovers indulge in some unholy explorations into religious sound? (it could be suggested that choral singing bequeathed R&B its roots, and blues its bottom lines...)

These are common questions concerning the Matisyahu phenomenon, not least because he makes no bones about believing in dog. I mean god. In a postmod world where moral malleability is a survival tool and dosh is a deity, his inexorable fundamentalism is a refreshing turnaround to encultured global apathy. Maybe that’s the turn-on. I believe (yes, I do! but its subject to change. and sincere bouts of doubt) that Matisyahu is so famous because the world fired god after creating him, and Matisyahu has one of the last functioning contracts. (for what it's worth. faith versus finance has become tricky since religion went out of business. ) I’m not saying that the man is a (false?) Messiah, but it’s less a case of a rock n roll stoner making his home where his hat is than it is a case of an unmovable rock stoned on faithful ecstasy. (erm. It’s cheaper, too)

The fact of the matter is that his music sounds good to Jews and gentiles alike. And it’s not like words have the last say when it comes to music’s appeal; in the ratio of sound to sentiment, sound holds more weight, and more water. Even holy water. the Torah touting Matisyahu has taken the shores of the liberal west coast by storm (pardon the pun, we know they’ve suffered enough from global warming's sideswipe cyclones and whatnot) with his orthodox rhetoric delivered by the book, as it were. And the good news is spreading. He’s a growing phenomena in NY, and now Europe. (And you know, the Japanese will possibly love him. Once they get over his funny hairstyle). He’s the arc angel of arch traditionalism where bin ladin is its fallen angel. Funnily enough they quite resemble each other. In all but costume…but cousins will war. Till death brings its peace...

You better behave if you go, though. The clapping, singing dancing congregation are likely to throw stones if you backslide…

Take a leaf out of the good book and give him a good looking into. If Matisyahu's Yiddish yodelling yields no yahoo from you, it’s comforting to remember that while immunity offers a certain stasis and state of grace, impunity belongs only to the godless.

Now which is worse – being godless, or being motherless? I’m inclined to let the whiskey answer….it seems to be one of life's best lubricants...

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