December 20, 2003


Chanukah, classical and pops: Like the Maccabees of old coming down from the Judean hills to reclaim the Temple, Chanukah CDs are coming from the most unexpected of places to rededicate the holiday musical landscape. (Paul Wieder, Dec. 4, 2002, Jewish World Review)

Shelley Olson uses classical music traditions to inform her Chanukah Cantata. And Shirley Braha, a.k.a. Little Shirley Beans, collected a dozen bands you've never heard of (unless you are a fan of the Casino Ashtrays, Chariots of Tuna, or Gumdrop Alley) and charged them with writing all-new Chanukah songs for the anthology I Made It out of Clay.

[T]he wildly eclectic I Made It out of Clay [is] billed as the first "Chanukah Indie-pop compilation." "Indie" is short for "independent," as in independent film. The two media also share an do-it-yourself, hey-why-not ethos. However, there is a "tight sense of community that builds around it," that is lacking in the film world, Shirley Braha, the album's producer, notes.

The performers on Clay are based in a dozen states, plus Canada and Finland, where they know something about winter. Kisswhistle remakes Elvis Costello's "Veronica" into "Verhannukah," and Mesopotamia harmonically laments the passing of a tail-chasing dog named Dreydel. The tones range from meditative to raucous, and encompass sounds from samba (Jumprope's "Hanukkah in Brazil") to nursery rhyme (the Boyish Charms "Theme for a Defiled Temple"); DJs will probably find "Hanukkah Girl" by Metronome the most radio-friendly cut. Many of the tracks feature muted vocals, but the full lyrics to all 20 tracks are enclosed.

We unfortunately have this one. "Unfortunately" because the kids like it but it makes adults want to set themselves on fire.

Posted by Orrin Judd at December 20, 2003 6:23 AM

What about "Hanukkah Rocks" by "Gefilte Joe and the Fish"? (The original vinyl version from Rhino records was not round, but pressed onto a "Star of David")

Posted by: Raoul Ortega at December 20, 2003 2:32 PM

This may get me permanately banned from posting at the Brothers, but what about Adam Sandler's Hanukkah song?

Posted by: Buttercup at December 20, 2003 10:53 PM


we watched the first ten minutes of Punch Drunk Love and it's the only time I've ever seen Sandler in anything, but I'll take your word for it on the song. :)

Posted by: oj at December 20, 2003 11:27 PM

Maybe a solution is at hand:

Woody Guthrie's 'This Menorah Is Your Menorah' By BEN SISARIO

Published: December 18, 2003

"This Land Is Your Land," of course. "Hard Travelin'," certainly. But "Honeyky Hanukkah"? "Hanukkah Tree"?

There seems to be no end to the surprises dug up by Woody Guthrie's daughter and tireless archivist, Nora Guthrie. . .

Now Ms. Guthrie has hit another jackpot. After further searches in the Woody Guthrie Archives on West 57th Street in Manhattan, where she is the executive director, Ms. Guthrie has found a series of songs on Jewish themes written in the 1940's and 50's, when her father lived in Coney Island with his second wife, Marjorie Mazia, and her Jewish family. There the Oklahoma troubadour ate blintzes, lighted the menorah and called his son Arlo "dibuck," for dybbuk.

The music will be heard on Saturday at the 92nd Street Y in a concert, "Holy Ground: The Jewish Songs of Woody Guthrie," with music by the Klezmatics, Arlo Guthrie and the Celtic folk singer Susan McKeown. . .

The songs are unmistakably Guthrie's, written in the plainspoken but evocative idiom he perfected in his Depression-era ballads like "Pretty Boy Floyd" and "Tom Joad." In "Hanukkah's Flame," he wrote:

Hanukkah candlelight, see my flame

Shining on my window's pane;

Come flicker 'cross my glassy glass

And light each lonesome to pass.

Guthrie met Mazia, a dancer with Martha Graham's company, at a dance performance at a Manhattan studio in the early 1940's, and married her in 1945. In Coney Island they lived across the street from Mazia's mother, Aliza Greenblatt, a Yiddish poet and lyricist who may have been Guthrie's Jewish muse. Nora Guthrie said that her father used to pepper her grandmother with questions about Jewish history and customs, and what he learned then appeared in his songs often just days later.

Posted by: Robert Schwartz at December 22, 2003 12:38 AM

If only I owned it, "Lets Put the Ch back in Chanukah" off the album Chanukah Carols performed by Stanly Adams (of Star Trek, tribles fame) and the Chicken Flickers, written by Adams and the very famous song writer, Sid Wayne (It's impossible). Great song. Any thoughts on where one could find this obscure album?

Posted by: Joe at December 23, 2003 8:16 AM