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Michael and Husky’s musical Yiddish adventure

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Published: 13 August 2018

Last updated: 4 March 2024

A class in Yiddish led the former editor of The Age, Michael Gawenda, to collaborate with his son, musician Husky Gawenda, on an album of songs in Yiddish

Two of Us: 'Dad's Yiddish poems revealed a part of him I didn't know' (Fairfax Media)
MICHAEL: Husky was born in April 1980 at London's East Dulwich Hospital, and we only just made it. My wife, Anne, was virtually having him in the car. He was in a hurry to come into the world. For the first year of his life, he didn't sleep. Never more than an hour and a half. It was a nightmare.

But he grew into a very engaged child, interested in how things worked. I wasn't aware that Husky was into music – that he could sing or write tunes – until his late teens. But he was certainly raised with Bob Dylan, Leonard Cohen, Joni Mitchell. When he was very little, his grandmother would sing lullabies and folk songs to him in Yiddish.

HUSKY: My earliest images of Dad are either sitting in his study, bashing away at the keyboard, or sitting at the kitchen table reading the paper in his pyjamas. Or he's reciting a William Wordsworth poem at dinner: I Wandered Lonely as a Cloud. He was away a lot, which was hard.

I didn't like it and didn't understand. But I have memories of playing cricket in the hallway, using a chair as a wicket, and watching him jump over this little chair, and thinking how incredible that was.

Photo: Husky and Michael Gawenda (Simon Schluter/Fairfax)

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