Allan Posner may not be a household name, but he is known at Beth Israel Congregation for writing the parody lyrics for Purim schpiels and songs for other Jewish celebrations. The retired systems engineer from Owings Mills has always used existing popular music to accompany original words for Jewish songs.
That is, until now.
Posner is collaborating with his friend Barry Geldzahler, a retired NASA scientist, on original music. Geldzahler, an accomplished songwriter, developed original scores for three of Posner’s odes to the Festival of Lights: “Chanukah Memories,” “My Chanukah Memories” and “Mensch With a Wrench.”
The copyrighted songs were produced by Kevin Fisher under the Boys’N’Barry recording label.
Posner, 63, is overjoyed by the first professional recordings of his music. “The process of Barry doing the music and chords, then finally Kevin producing the actual recording, that’s where all the magic really happens.
“It really brings to life the words on a sheet of paper,” he said. “So I’m truly indebted to the both of them for making this a reality.”
“ ‘Mensch With a Wrench’ is a satirical ode to a dysfunctional family making a Chanukah celebration. It’s sung from the perspective of a beleaguered father desperately trying to maintain family stability and sanity,” explained Posner.
“I wanted to create a song that looked at all the tumult that goes on in preparing for the holiday — all the insanity that sometimes goes on with getting massive amounts of people together for [an eight-day] celebration. It’s taken from some personal experience,” said Posner, who has two grown daughters, Jennifer and Ilana, with his wife, Elyse.
“It was a goal to be satirical, to be funny. Who hasn’t been in a position where after the plans have been made to do something, all of a sudden, the menu changes again and you have to go back to the store?”
An excerpt from the lyrics: “I went back to the store for the umpteenth time/Come home to the Chanukah food assembly line/I’m aggravated, frustrated, starving and beat/And have a fridge full of food that I’m told not to eat.”
Another “Mensch With a Wrench” lyric that resonates with Posner: “We’re schvitzing and cleaning so the house looks good/We’ve got enough food to feed the whole neighborhood/We run around serving people/Then we repeat/Guests have finished their meals/And I’ve yet to eat.”
‘I write them from personal experience’
“Chanukah Memories” and “My Chanukah Memories” are both sentimental and nostalgic — the first song set to a bouncy, upbeat tune, and the second is a slower and smoother arrangement of the same song. “It’s a father looking back on the celebration through the eyes of a young child,” related Posner. “The second part is what Chanukah means to him as a father.”
Some of the lyrics include: “It all begins at sundown/The anticipation’s great/We’ve all begun the countdown/The festival can’t wait/When I was young, I couldn’t wait for Chanukah’s first night/The candles in the menorah turn darkness into light.”
Posner’s childhood memories of Chanukah at his family’s Pikesville home center on the lighting of the candles, dreidel playing and gift-giving. “I have just a lot of pleasant memories of those days.”
He said he heard through Geldzahler that one of his songs recently received airplay on a radio station at University of Connecticut.
“I do them because they’re enjoyable to create. Certainly, for me, the goal is to have other people enjoy them as well,” said Posner, who’s now writing a song for Passover. “I write them from personal experience and what I believe other people go through, especially with the sentimental values of Chanukah.”
He added that “it’s been a tremendous learning opportunity for me and one which I have thoroughly enjoyed.”
You can listen online to Allan Posner’s recordings: “The Mensch With a Wrench” (youtu.be/WvAtSVf8GHM) and Chanukah Memories” (youtu.be/aXGSj2jg1No).