Yiddish tunes with Mandy Patinkin
Patinkin says that he loves singing in “the privacy of the woods and just the nakedness of nature”
How do you get ready for work? If you’re like Mandy Patinkin and going on tour you do it by hiking the beautiful trails of upstate New York and sharing Yiddish tunes with the foliage and trees.
In a video the actor, singer and giver of Jewish joy shared on social media last month, he is seen wearing his hiking shoes and best Jewish dad white socks while marching through the forrest as he sings many of the wonderful songs he has sung on stage throughout the years — including quite a few tunes in Yiddish (Patinkin has a full album of Yiddish songs called Mamaloshen which came out in 1998).
His son and social media mastermind, Gideon, interviews him about this peculiar habit as his father walks briskly and sings.
Patinkin shares that he’s been running through his songs pretty much his whole adult life — at least since 1989, when his first album came out (which includes his incredible Yiddish cover of Somewhere Over the Rainbow and other musical classics), which is also when he started performing concerts. “Every time I take a walk I run a concert, I run at least an hour and a half of songs,” Patinkin says in the video.
“I’ll always do the Yiddish one,” he reveals. “I’ve got like 10 to 13 hours of material, that way I don’t lose it.”
“I keep everything real light in my throat, I don’t force anything, and it’s actually quite a relaxing vocal exercise at the same time,” he adds. In the video he sings songs like Bohemian Rhapsody, Rainbow Highway and Yiddish covers like his Yiddish Take Me Out to the Ball Game. They’re all sung to the beat of leaves and gravel crunching under his well-worn brown hiking shoes. The best part is arguably when he sings “mama, mama,” as he walks up a path.
Patinkin says that he loves singing in “the privacy of the woods and just the nakedness of nature” to which his son follows up with the very Jewish dad-ish question: “Do you ever do it naked in nature?”
While Patinkin doesn’t streak naked through the woods, he does often do his nature walks with his wife, Kathryn Grody, who is very happy to let him do his thing.
“She hangs back and either listens to a podcast or talks to a friend,” he explains, saying that whenever he stops singing, she urges him to get back at it — so that she can get back to her devices. There is something so nice about a long-term couple hanging out together and just doing their own things.
For those of you wishing to recreate the “meeting Hillary hiking through the forest”-esque moment, which I wouldn’t recommend because we must preserve the privacy of the woods, we do know that Patinkin lives in High Falls, New York, along with actor Aidan Quinn, and of course, neighbour Ilan, for whom he tried to find a match in 2021.
But please, let Mandy run through his songs in peace! Though, personally, I can’t imagine a better soundtrack for a peaceful nature walk than the echoes of Mandy Patinkin singing in Yiddish, if the town of High Falls needs a way to draw tourists in. After all, if Mandy Patinkin sings in the forest and no one hears — is he really singing?