Alright, lovely people, time to reveal the final six songs on my all-Judaism all the time Hanukkah CD, which are comprised of some of my favorite artists regardless of the constraint of the playlist. We’ve already covered KISS, Billy Joel, Paul Simon, and Regina Spektor amongst others, so you can only imagine what awesomeness is yet to come. If you missed #17-13 and #12-7, check those out. Seriously, wow— these guys rock. Anyhow, the last six. I miss the spirited tournament dialogue of old (has it really only been two weeks since the Covers tourney ended?) and welcome all commentary.
#6 “Rush” by Big Audio Dynamite: Some might consider this a strange Mick Jones representative, but one of my rules for creating this CD was that the lead vocalist had to be Jewish. So with Michael Geoffrey Jones’ Clash discography, that leaves you with “Should I Stay Or Should I Go,” “Lost In The Supermarket,” a few others I wasn’t too thrilled about. However, I can 100% get behind “Rush;” I have always found that tune to be ridiculously fun to listen to, even considering the experimental bridge you have to weather in the process. Jones’ mother back in Brixton was a Russian Jew like Regina’s parents— I can’t speak to what his upbringing was like, but that’s enough to get the nod to the CD.
#5 “Rock And Roll” by The Velvet Underground: Lewis Allan Reed was born into a Jewish family at Beth El Hospital in Brooklyn on March 2, 1942 and would go from there to becoming the iconic and influential Warhol-associated, always fresh influence on rock we know today. Again, couldn’t really put “Heroin” on a holiday album, but “Rock And Roll” has rarely failed the Good Songs To Listen To While Driving test. And whose life hasn’t been saved by rock and roll at one time or another?
#4 “Jump” by Van Halen: Many of you probably could have seen this one coming from a mile away. David Lee Roth completely owns it on this track, which I think is arguably one of the greatest songs of the entire 80’s decade. “Jump” got an absolutely terrible deal in the first music tournament, getting matched against “Don’t Stop Believing” very early on. What could have been will have to wait for a future tournament. Anyways, David Lee Roth was raised in a family of Jewish doctors, and met the Van Halen brothers while attending Pasadena Community College (I wonder if there is a plaque there. There should be.)
#3 “Sultans Of Swing” by Dire Straits: One day Mark Knopfler was sitting at a pub in England free-writing and happened to notice a jazz band playing in the corner being completely ignored by everyone else there. So was born the idea for this slick ode to the no name band and the people in them. Knopfler, who is Scottish, was born in Glasgow to a Hungarian Jewish father whose anti-Fascist sympathies had driven him from his homeland to the British Isles. I don’t think Mark himself practiced, can’t find anything solid on that. But for sure a welcome addition to the CD and “S of S” slides in nicely at the 3 spot.
#2 “Blitzkrieg Bop” by The Ramones: Here you go, Colin. And everyone else that loves and appreciates the Ramones. Joey Ramone was born Jeffry Ross Hyman- perhaps not the best stage name, and I find the change to be unsurprising. Jeffry grew up in a Jewish household in Forest Hills, Queens. Joey’s Judaic roots provide a pretty compelling cornerstone to the association in general between the birth of punk and middle class Jews. Some guy even wrote a book about it (see left.) This list would surely be missing a significant piece without Joey Ramone, and Blitzkrieg Bop is as accessible a representative as any other.
#1 “Tangled Up In Blue” by Bob Dylan “This song took me ten years to live, and two years to write.” So decreed Robert Allen Zimmerman before most live performances of TUIB, which remains to this day my favorite Dylan track (some people have issues with “Blood On The Tracks,” but I f’ing love that LP.) Bob Dylan’s grandparents on one side were Russian Jews that had emigrated to Minnesota following anti-Semitic pogroms at the turn of the century, and were Lithuanian Jewish immigrants on the other side. Growing up in Duluth, Bobby’s parents were part of a small and close-knit Jewish community. His father was president of B’Nai Brith (an international Jewish community service organization.) He had a bar mitzvah in Hibbing, MN attended by 400 people. Although in the late 70’s he did controversially convert to Christianity, everyone starts somewhere, and I can’t think of a more deserving number one on the list than the prolific Mr. Bob Dylan.
Concluding Remarks: All things considered, it would appear that artists with Judaic roots have produced and continue to produce some of the greatest music of our time. This was a really interesting experiment to put together. Hats off to all of these artists and if you are interested, here is the complete playlist (except “Straight Up,” Paula Abdul is too good for GrooveShark.)