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CHAPTER THREE

The Unknown

Liner Notes

Song Stories

In this series of Song Stories we’re taking you behind the scenes of each song.

Chapter III – Seekers Song Trilogy is the third EP from our album Old Bones Odyssey

Coming soon: we’re creating a podcast that dives deeper into the stories and history behind our songs.

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The Unknown

Videos

Lyrics

The Unknown

I miss my old world, need my old world, long for my old home“-Lyrics/Ellen Kaye

Ellen C Kaye – Lead Vocal
Ethan Fein – Guitar
Andrew Drelles – Clarinet
Diane Monroe – Violin
Koa Ho – Upright bass
Zach Mullings – Drums
© 2022 Ellen C Kaye and Ethan Fein.
All rights reserved.

 

 

Across the sky, across the sea
Every step in front of me
Leads me into the unknown 
Across the sky, across the sea
Leaving all that’s dear to me
No more to sleep in my old home 

A map, a plan, a distant land
Tears me from my home
I miss my old world
Need my old world
Long for my old home

Across the sky, across the sea
Every step in front of me
Leads me into the unknown 
Across the sky, across the sea
Leaving all that’s dear to me
No more to sleep in my old home 

A map, a plan, a distant land
Tears me from my home
I miss my old world
Need my old world
Long for my old home

Ellen C Kaye – Lyrics
Ethan Fein – Music 
Recorded/Mixed/Mastered by Bill Moss
Ellen C Kaye, Ethan Fein, Bill Moss, Alan Joseph–Producers
Outlier Inn Recording Studio
Woodridge, New York
A Repair With Gold Production LLC SM
(c) 2023 All Rights Reserved.

 

 

The Story

The Unknown

“It is the saddest story ever told. With the boldest beginning. But the darkest flaw is in our making. “-Ellen Kaye

High Seas
Jacob Kalmanowitz
Jacob Kalmanowitz b. 1884 Russia. Emigrated to America 1899. d.1949 NYC. He was a partner in two restaurants in Manhattan (Gottlieb’s) before the crash of 1929. Ellen’s paternal grandfather.
Annie Kalmanowitz
Annie Horowitz Kalmanowitz b.1884 Minsk,Russia. d.1970 buried in Queens, New York,America Family lore tells us that she was a teenage Bolshevik who escaped the Cossacks by fleeing to America in 1901 with a hidden bag of gold. Ellen’s paternal grandmother
Cruz Alejandrina Defanti
Cruz Alejandrina Defanti Cruz emigrated from Chile and became an American citizen. She raised me from six months till I was seven. Whatever is good in me is from her love and care. City Island, New York City.
Lyro Defanti
Lyro Defanti emigrated from Brazil to New York City. There, he fell in love with Cruz Alejandrina and asked her to marry him.
Foundering Ship
Isaak Chertok-Chertoff
A Russian who emigrated via Tokyo to Istanbul to Israel until the beginning of WWII and finally to New York City. Here he is wearing the uniform of the Russian Army. Possibly WWI. Ellen's paternal cousin.
Lloyd Wiliams
d.1932 New Orleans, Louisiana. d. 2020 New York City. Fashion designer whose clothes were featured in Lord & Taylor, Macy’s and the major department stores of the day. Ellen’s brother-in-law.
George Ernest Burwell Jr.
George Ernest Burwell Jr. b.1897 Tarboro, North Carolina, USA. d. 1980 Columbus, North Carolina, America. Ernest served in WWI and WWII. Ellen’s maternal grandfather.
Rough Waters
Jan Peerce - The Perlmuth's
b. Jacob Pincus Perelmuth in 1904 in the Lower East Side, Manhattan, New York. d.1984, New Rochelle, New York. Jan was a famous cantor and opera singer, known as Toscanini’s favorite tenor. He starred in “Fiddler on the Roof” on Broadway as Tevye. His recording of “The Bluebird of Happiness”, which was written for him, became his signature tune and became a worldwide hit. He was the first American Jew to sing behind the Iron Curtain in the Soviet Union. He is credited with inspiring the launching of the Soviet Jewry Movement. Ellen's paternal uncle, married to her aunt Alice Kalmanowitz, her father Sidney's sister.
John Tsang
b.(possibly)Canton, China. d.Long Island, New York. Toiled in the restaurant industry to support his family and married Iris Seay, an interethnic marriage. Father of Ellen’s husband, Kim Tsang.
Faith Burwell
b.1932 in South Carolina. d. 2020 in Connecticut. Faith came to New York City in the early 1950’s as a young actress.
Early Map Of Europe
Previous slide
Next slide

My own experience led me to writing this song. Being forced to leave home at an early age to save myself. Leaving everything I knew, the world I loved. And then being exiled for almost two years from fourteen to sixteen on Hart Island, the home to Potters Field. 
Of course, being half Jewish probably has a lot to do with writing this song as well. I was raised on Fiddler On The Roof. And the song Anatevka haunts me to this day. The Holocaust was a running history in my mind from my earliest memories.
My father wias diagnosed with cancer six months before I was born.
And then my very early years growing up both in the South and the North and understanding the horror of slavery, in the way a small child can, then a teenager and later as an adult. Seeing quite early, in my own home, that many Americans would not face it. That people in my immediate family were living in an alternate reality of the lost cause. 

In school, I began to grasp the tragedy of our Native American First Peoples history. Horrifying. It’s a strange history, our American story. The people who live here now have so many different pasts behind them. That’s our great experiment. I love our country so. But it breaks my heart. Like having a mother who can’t stop drinking. It is the saddest story ever told. With the boldest beginning. But the darkest flaw is in our making. 

It’s funny to me, that with all the thousands of years of original sin conceptually, we never seem able to apply it to ourselves in the most important matters of state. Like a childlike patient on a psychiatrist’s couch, we can’t move forward. We can’t see ourselves. We can only project the fear and shame from our past failures onto the people we have failed the most. And the new people who need us now.
I have felt displaced since I was forced to leave my own home. I was never able to resume my old life. Left out to sea. Never feeling at home again. That led me to more easily imagine how other people might experience their lives now and in the long lost long agos.

On Passover we talk about being the stranger, of being kind to the stranger, of how we can all be strangers in a strange land.  Here, in America, we have made people who were here before us into strangers. Strangers in their own land. We dragged people here in chains hundreds of years ago, people whose family lines have been here now much longer than most of our own family lineages, and we have kept them strangers in their own country. Strangers to the rights of full citizenship. Strangers in a country that never loves them.

I understand what it feels like to be born into a family that doesn’t love you. In a world that keeps insisting that it isn’t true. To a mother who doesn’t love you. When the world says mother’s always love their children. That was the first lie. And why it was so easy for me to see the next one. And the one after that.

An Interview with Ellen

The Unknown


Full transcript of interview with Ellen below

“…the whole Seeker Song trilogy kind of leads into the longing in myself for America to…embrace the stranger and to find ways in our daily lives to love and be compassionate toward the stranger.”-Ellen Kaye

Well, first, it’s my own experience. Being forced to leave home at an early age to save myself. Leaving everything I knew, the world I loved. And then being exiled for almost two years from fourteen to sixteen on Hart Island, the home to Potters Field. 
Of course, being half Jewish probably has a lot to do with writing this song as well. I was raised on Fiddler On The Roof. And the song Anatevka haunts me to this day. The Holocaust was a running history in my mind from my earliest memories.
And then my very early years growing up both in the South and the North and understanding the horror of slavery, in the way a small child can, then a teenager and later as an adult. Seeing quite early, in my own home, that many Americans would not face it. That people in my immediate family were living in an alternate reality of the lost cause. 
In school, I began to grasp the tragedy of our Native American First Peoples history. Horrifying. It’s a strange history, our American story. The people who live here now have so many different pasts behind them. That’s our great experiment. I love our country so. But it breaks my heart. Like having a mother who can’t stop drinking. It is the saddest story ever told. With the boldest beginning. But the darkest flaw is in our making. 

It’s funny to me, that with all the thousands of years of original sin conceptually, we never seem able to apply it to ourselves in the most important matters of state. Like a childlike patient on a psychiatrist’s couch, we can’t move forward. We can’t see ourselves. We can only project the fear and shame from our past failures onto the people we have failed the most. And the new people who need us now.

That we are listening. That we have suffered. That we can imagine their suffering. And we want it to end.

A map, a plan, a distant land
It tears me from my home
I miss my old world
Need my old world
Long for my old home

I have felt displaced since I was forced to leave my own home. I was never able to resume my old life. Left out to sea. Never feeling at home again. That led me to feel how other people might experience their lives now and in the long lost long agos.
On Passover we talk about being the stranger, of being kind to the stranger, of how we can all be strangers in a strange land. Here, in America, we have made people who were here before us, strangers. We dragged people here in chains hundreds of years ago, people who have been here now much longer than most of us, and we have kept them strangers in their own land. Strangers to the rights of full citizenship. Strangers to a country that never loves them.
I understand what it feels like to be born into a family that doesn’t love you. In a world that keeps insisting that it isn’t true. To a mother who doesn’t love you. When the world says mother’s always love their children. That was the first lie. And why it was so easy for me to see the next one. And the one after that.

Sources And Inspirations

  • Anatevka
  • The Warmth Of Other Sons

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Ellen C Kaye

Ellen C Kaye

Singer/songwriter, producer, podcast maker, mom, born and bred in NYC. Night Club singer at heart.