Many of the big Jewish Music (JM) releases from the ‘80s and ‘90s featured songs composed by Yossi Green. Yossi dominated mainstream JM in that era as a composer (and occasionally had other roles, as well), making an immense impact on dozens of projects. Many of the most legendary albums that helped catapult singers’ careers were replete with Yossi’s contributions.
In 2002, Yossi released Shades of Green, a collection of [his own] greatest hits. This would be the first of several albums of its type: medleys of his previously-released compositions organized into different themes. As elaborated above, Yossi was quite prolific, having already composed hundreds of songs at the time, with plenty left in the reservoir. Within the industry, his renown hadn’t waned; the momentum hadn’t slowed. He was still likely the ultimate destination for a singer in search of songs. So why the repackaging of “old” songs? It’s not like he was in need of a stalling technique while he replenished new content. What compelled him to start this project?
Yossi’s impetus for re-releasing many of his beautiful songs into a cohesive project like this was in fact an enlightening conversation he had with his daughter. She wanted to know exactly what he did in Jewish music. When she would tell her friends that a particular song is “his,” they would reply with, “That’s him singing?” or “I thought this was Dedi’s song,” or “If the words are from davening and Avraham Fried is singing it, what exactly does your father do?” His daughter became frustrated, not being able to explain something that she herself didn’t completely grasp. Yossi realized that if his own family was unsure about what writing a song means and where he fits into the scheme, then the general public was very likely unaware of all the role players involved in a song and the many facets and specialized skill sets it entails.
When a single or video is released, one may notice an entire cast of names of people who supposedly are affiliated with the song in some way or another: produced by, vocals by, composed by, lyrics by, arranged by, backup vocals by, adult choir by, recorded by, mixed by, mastered by, distributed by, etc. One may even wonder: If this is Benny Friedman’s new single, why is there an entire army of random people getting acknowledged for this song? Who are all of these people? What roles do they play? Is there overlap? Are they all equal contributors?
There’s an enormous amount of time and energy and collaboration that goes into producing high-caliber music. What exactly is going on behind the scenes? As listeners, we impatiently wait for the final product, but we are usually unaware of the song’s progression and the realistic projected timeline, etc. How many things need to click, from schedule to finances to personnel, in order for the song to go from fetus to fully-formed? I hope to delve into the different phases of the song process in future weeks.