Alright, I realized that if I let too much time pass between continuing this series I am going to lose readership. So moving on to numbers 12 to 7 in my Jewish rock star compilation CD:
#12 “Make Your Own Kind Of Music” by Mama Cass- OK, so I have to admit, as little as I try to be influenced by TV in my musical tendencies, some may find it difficult to separate this song’s association with the start of Season Two of Lost. But honestly it’s a nice little piece about letting go, and Cass Elliot is surely a powerhouse to be recognized in the psychedelic San Fran 60s movement. Before the cursed sandwich in the English hotel room and before California Dreamin’, Ellen Naomi Cohen grew up in a nice Jewish household in Baltimore.
#11 “Graceland” by Paul Simon: I probably should have picked one by Simon AND Garfunkel, but I like Graceland too much! Ahhh, sorry Art. Graceland is Graceland, two different versions of which have appeared in music tournaments here. Wikipedia: “Donald Fagen has described Simon’s childhood as that of “a certain kind of New York Jew, almost a stereotype, really, to whom music and baseball are very important. I think it has to do with the parents. The parents are either immigrants or first generation Americans who felt like outsiders, and assimilation was the key thought – they gravitated to black music and baseball looking for an alternative culture.” Anyhow, “there’s a girl in New York City that calls herself the human trampoline” remains one of my favorite lines, as I’d say this describes the majority of girls I know in New York City. Hats off to a consistent goodie.
#10 “Walk Like An Egyptian” by The Bangles: Surprise 80s hit here! I’m a softie for the girl groups out of that era. And if any long-time LTDers recall the Blondie run in the first tourney, maybe some of you are as well. Susannah Hoffs, lead singer on most of The Bangles’ #1 hits, grew up in a Jewish household on the west side of Los Angeles. And come on, “Walk Like An Egyptian” is a pretty fun song. Right? Well, I know Marj Russow agrees with me (do you read this still too? Who reads this?)
#9 “Walking In Memphis” by Marc Cohn: This one goes out to the Progenitor. And I can’t put it any better than these lines from Steve Knopper in a Chicago Tribune article. A phone discussion of Cohn’s voice leads to a recollection of one of his most memorable lines, from his 1991 radio breakthrough “Walking In Memphis.” The lyrics deal with a Jewish gospel-music-lover meeting a devout pianist who asks him, “Are you a Christian child?”; the singer responds, dramatically, “Ma’am, I am tonight.”
“It’s 100 percent autobiographical,” says Cohn, who is Jewish. “The moment I wrote it, I had no idea I was writing a hit, but I knew I was writing something that deeply defined so many facets of me — my conflicting feelings about religion, about my own state, my humor about it, my acceptance about everybody in terms of what they believe. … It’s not a religious thing for me, it’s just deeply moving. And I guess that’s all in that line.
“It’s so funny — people often think that I’m Christian or born-again, from not only that song, but others,” he says. “In a way, I like that. There’s nothing clear about what I’m writing, in terms of spirituality. But to me, that line could have only been written by a Jew. It’s such a Jewish line, and I love that.”
#8 “Only The Good Die Young” by Billy Joel: There is a certain level of conceit implicit in this choice, i.e., “the Catholic girls start much too late.” And a certain level of stretch- Janos and I have discussed the Billy Joel conundrum a few times over the last year. Some people like him, some people just can’t make the leap. Maybe like Bruce Springsteen, but Bruce is The Boss and that’s different. Anyways, William Martin Joel’s grandfather fled Nazi Germany in the late 30’s, and both of his parents were Jewish. His parents got divorced and his father moved to Vienna (maybe the motivation for “Vienna”? Dunno.) “Only The Good Die Young” is surely a staple of many a college playlist, at least for our generation…so Billy, here you go.
#7 “On The Radio” by Regina Spektor: I know certain dreamers (Aiko, Grant, Maureen) can get behind the Spektor- it’s a unique kind of thing that girl does, but a pretty ridiculously talented one at that. Regina Ilyinichna Spektor grew up in a Russian Jewish family and emigrated out of the U.S.S.R. in 1989 during Perestroika. Regina started gaining traction with “Fidelity” (I think, I don’t really get my music from the radio) but “On The Radio” is a ridiculously potent and pleasant song. Especially the second verse. Give it a whirl, and Regina, I’m happy to have you on-board the mix.
Did you miss #17-#13? Check it out here. And tune in for #6-#1 soon!