The Grateful Dead gets the Hebrew treatment on Israeli hip-hop star Sagol 59’s The Promised Land: The Grateful Dead/Jerry Garcia Hebrew Project.
Sagol, otherwise known as Khen Rotem, teamed up with Israeli-American folk singer Ami Yares to translate and record many of the Dead’s better known tracks, such as “New Minglewood Blues,” “Friend of the Devil,” “Bertha,” “Cold Rain and Snow” and “Sugaree.”
“I wasn’t so contaminated with prejudice about them because I don’t live in the States,” Rotem explained to J Weekly. “I didn’t have any preconceptions about them. I listen to a wide array of music; I don’t differentiate between Grandmaster Flash and Johnny Cash. I listen to it all: jazz, rock, hip-hop, blues, whatever.”
The project was aided by his friend Yares, a longtime Deadhead. The two met at a bar in Tel Aviv a few years ago and the rest was history.
The project took about 18 months and required them to be methodical in their choice of songs. “That was the difficult part, to sit with their songbook and choose, because some of their songs are untranslatable,” Rotem explains. “I couldn’t have done the free-flowing ones, like ‘Eyes of the World’ or ‘Terrapin Station.’ I chose the ones that are more blues-based or ballad-based, which are more approachable.”
Rotem and Yares take some liberties in their translations, such as changing the names of US cities to popular Israeli ones, and skewing certain words to fit the proper number of syllables. While the language translations are not exact, the musical compositions are distinctly recognizable. “We didn’t try to copy the Dead, but we didn’t go for a post-punk industrial hip-hop angle, either,” Rotem continues.
Listen to the album here.
The Promised Land: The Grateful Dead/Jerry Garcia Hebrew Project Track Listing:
1. Intro – Dark Moon אינטרו – ירח אפל 01:06
2. Bertha נטע 05:11
3. Sugaree מתוקתי 05:05
4. Me & My Uncle אני והדוד שלי 03:02
5. Loser לוזר 05:55
6. Friend Of The Devil חבר של השטן 04:26
7. New Minglewood Blues בלוז חדש לגמרי 03:11
8. Cold Rain & Snow בגשם ובקור 03:49
9. I Know You Rider אני יודע 04:19
10. Mission In The Rain נחלאות בגשם השוטף 04:56
11. Deal דיל 03:51
12. Black Muddy River נהר שחור כזפת 05:01
13. Outro – Bright Star אאוטרו – כוכב בהיר 01:14
14. New Speedway Boogie (Home Demo) בוגי המסלול 05:13
15. Tennessee Jed (Home Demo) כפר הנשיא 03:52
16. Brokedown Palace (Home Demo) ארמון השבר 03:45