I’m involved in this Secret Snowman thing at work. It’s what we call Secret Santa to make sure we aren’t alienating the one participant that is of the Judaic persuasion. But how excited was I to pick from this hat and discover that low and behold, it was my responsibility to purchase this person secret Hanukkah gifts? Very excited. Why? Because that meant that for one of my mini-presents I could put together a CD that started with Sandler’s Hanukkah song, and proceeded to only play songs by artists who were Jewish. This involved a night of research, some trial and error, some tough decisions, but in the end produced a pretty kick-ass set and some new insight into the number of great rockers/musicians that lit the menorah once upon a time. I’m almost positive my Secret Snowman never visits this site, so without further ado, Part 1 of 3 of the 17 tracks making it onto this CD, each from a different Jewish musician, in a countdown ordered by my own assessment of awesomeness.
Honorable Mentions: Leonard Cohen and The Beastie Boys. I couldn’t find a single Leonard Cohen song I felt good about putting on a holiday CD, but he certainly deserves mention. Cohen’s grandfather Lyon was once President of the Canadian Jewish Congress, and Leonard maintained a belief that he was a descendant of Aaron (yeah, that Aaron.) As for the Brooklyn rappers, same, although I did come close on “Slow Ride.”
#17: “Jack Sparrow” by Lonely Island featuring Michael Bolton: Strangely enough, Leonard Cohen and Andy Samberg have something in common- Samberg’s maternal grandfather was Executive Chair of the American Jewish Congress. Samberg didn’t grow up particularly religious, but Dreamers obviously can jive with “Jack Sparrow.” Speaking of which, Michael Bolton grew up in a Kosher household in New Haven, CT. Surely if Sandler had written his tune 17 years later, it’s hard to believe he would have left out a nod to this classic out of his alma mater of SNL comedians.
#16: “Wind Beneath My Wings” by Bette Midler: I had nothing to do with the Midler and Houston picks for play-in spots from the original tournament, but I 100% would have given the nod to #1 hit Platinum WBMW over “From A Distance.” Miss Midler grew up in Honolulu, and her family was the only Jewish household in an unsurprisingly dominantly Asian-American neighborhood. A prolific career soon followed. Whatever the critics might say, I’d say the highlight was her role as the head witch in “Hocus Pocus.” What a terrifying movie to watch as a child.
#15: “Straight Up” by Paula Abdul: Before “American Idol,” before that weird cat video, and before she was a Laker girl, Paula Abdul was and is the daughter of a marriage between a Sephardic Jew from Syria and a Canadian. She has said in interviews that she still practices. Sandler, you forgot about Paula! It’s ok. We can forgive you. Maybe “Straight Up” shouldn’t be ahead of “Wind Beneath My Wings” also, but this is my list.
#14: “Mr. Jones” by Counting Crows: Ahhh, Adam Duritz. “August And Everything After” was a staple of my adolescence, and “Mr. Jones” the tour de force coming off that piece (albeit I maintain soft spots for “Round Here,” “Omaha,” and “A Murder Of One.” And am still trying to figure out whether the use of “murder” is a pun.) You get a spot too.
#13: “Rock And Roll All Nite” by KISS: Many will argue I put this one too low. While I recognize this song needs to be on here, I just never really got too into it. Maybe I should have used that Ramones cover instead, I dunno (PS- foreshadowing.) Gene Simmons (aka Chaim Weitz Hebrew) and Paul Stanley (aka Stanley Harvey Eisen) represent. Gene Simmons went to a Hebrew preschool that went from 7 am to 9:30 pm. Oooof.
Tune in next week for Part 2 of 3 of the Hanukkah Song In Practice!