imagesHere’s a re-post. We sang it again last nite. It’s such a great song to sing and play. However, as the title warns us, it is a bit schmaltzy:

Schmaltz: a Yiddush word (and today an accepted English word!) is rendered chicken fat. European Jews, denied by kashrut laws the possibility of stuffing their circulatory systems with lard, used schmaltz. Schmaltz, whose cholesterol content can only be expressed via a special logarithmic scale, was delicious of course. Then there was the greebinus, a by-product of the rendering, which was great eating too, but which would cause nutritionists to faint. As a child I was given schmaltz on rye bread as a sort of health food. Schmaltz was considered something healthy to eat back then! My grandmother would toast a thick slice of bread over the stovetop flame, rub a clove a clove of garlic into it, and shmear it with good old schmaltz. Such was my very fine upbringing.

However “schmaltz” in music – and here schmaltz or schmaltzy is rendered (ouch) into an adjective for a glaringly unctious and overly-sentimental presentation – is something I never liked much. All that show biz glamour and Las Vegas glitz still leaves me non plussed. All the same, I’ve come to appreciate the value of good schmaltz. The following song is unabashedly schmaltzy. It’s

I’ve Gotta Get a Message to You, by the Bee Gees of course, and Maybank and myself love to try to sing it. The lyrics possess such fine melodrama: the prisoner’s last wish as he marches to the gallows, the love unrequited….
I’ve Gotta Get a Message to You
The preacher talked to me and he smiled
Said, “Come and walk with me, come and walk one more mile
Now, for once in your life, you’re alone
But you ain’t got a dime, there’s no time for the phone”
I’ve just gotta get a message to you
Hold on, hold on
One more hour and my life will be through
Hold on, hold on
I told him I’m in no hurry
But if I broke her heart then won’t you tell her I’m sorry?
And for once in my life I’m alone
And I got to let her know just in time before I go
I’ve just gotta get a message to you
Hold on, hold on
One more hour and my life will be through
Hold on, hold on
Well, I laughed but that didn’t hurt
And it’s only her love that keeps me wearing this dirt
Now, I’m crying but deep down inside
Well, I got to get a message to you. Hold on. Hold on. One more hour and my life will be through. Hold on. Hold on…….
Footnote: In an article in the May 2016 New England Journal of Medicine, Dr. Hubert Maxenburg states that eating schmaltz is “a grievous error”. Correction: he meant to say “griebbenous error”.