Friday, September 10, 2010

Weekend Listomania (Special Peace in the Middle East Audio/Video Edition)

Well, its Friday and you know what that means. In this case, my lovely Oriental hide-the-kosher-salami consultant Fah Lo Suee and I will be recovering from an epic Manischewitz binge occasioned by our observance of the Jewish High Holy Day of Rosh Hashanah. Which means that posting by moi will be at best fitful until next week.

But in the meantime, consider if you will this excerpt from Nick Tosches' Unsung Heroes Of Rock 'n' Roll, still the only rock book that knows what it's talking about (or so said the late great Samuel Beckett in the Foreword, despite the fact that he was dead at the time):
The history of rock 'n' roll has been obscured by a great deal of misknowing and ignorance, and by a great many lies. There are those who believe that rock 'n' roll was a sudden, magical effusion; that a young man named Elvis Presley one day rose, dipped his comb in water, swept his hair into a duck's-ass, bopped out into the world, and created -- thank God, Alan Freed was there to give it a name -- rock 'n' roll. This is perhaps the most popular and abiding myth. It is merely another lesson learnt from that cherished American history book that taught us that Peary went to the North Pole alone.

At the other extreme, there are those who believe that rock 'n' roll was created by black people, than seized and commercialized by whites. This is merely a lesson from a revised edition of that same cherished history book. One could make just as strong a case for Jews being the central ethnic group in rock n roll's early history [my emphasis]; for it was they who produced many of the most important records, wrote some of the best songs, cultivated much of the greatest talent, and operated the majority of the pioneering record companies.
I happen to think Tosches is right about this, in the main, which is to say that rock-and-roll, more than any other form of American music, has always been a mutt. Of course, you may disagree; if so, feel free to do so in the comment section. In any case, in the spirit of the above, here's an obviously relevant and yet inclusively diverse little project to wile away the hours until I return:

Best or Worst Post-Elvis Pop Record/Song Either Written By, Performed By, or About Our Jewish and Arab Brothers and Sisters!!!

And my totally top of my head Top Six is:

7. 10cc -- Wall Street Shuffle

Featuring the great Grahame Gouldman (a nice Yiddish kid from England) on bass. And a song about money -- who'd have thunk it?

6. Desmond Dekker -- Israelites

I have no idea what this song actually means, by the way; I've been told it reflects rather unflatteringly on my fellow Red Sea pedestrians, but given its Jamaican patois I've never really been sure.

5. Ray Stevens -- Ahab the Arab

From 1961, when you could apparently get away with stuff like this. Although in the current climate -- who knows?

4. Two Live Jews -- Oy It's So Humid

When we say these guys are def, we really MEAN....etc.

3. The Regents -- Barbara Ann

Regents singer Chuck Fassert, like his brother Fred (who wrote the song) were of Iranian descent, so you can imagine the irony when that asshat John McCain sang this one as "Bomb Iran" during the 2008 campaign. And yes, I know that Iranians -- or Persians, as they're called in that horrible Disney flick from earlier this year -- are not technically considered Arabs. So sue me.

2. Fountains of Wayne -- Strapped for Cash

Another song about money sung by a Jew -- what are the odds?

And the Numero Uno "Iceceberg, Goldberg, what difference does it make to the Titanic?" hit of them all simply has to be --

1. The Blues Project -- No Time Like the Right Time

Left to right: Mssrs (Al) Kooper, (Danny) Kalb, (Steve) Katz, (Roy) Blumenfeld, and (Andy) Kulberg. Not for nothing did they call these guys the Jewish Beatles.

Alrighty then -- what would your choices be?

[Shameless Blogwhore: My parallel Cinema Listomania -- theme: most interesting romantic actor and actress pairing in a feature film -- is now up over at Box Office. As always, if you could see your way to going over there and snarking a bit, it would help convince management that my freelance rate needs to be upped. Thanks!]


Faze said...

In 1967, I think, Felix Pappalardi produced and played bass on the album Devil's Anvil, which was rocked-up versions of traditional Arab melodies. Wala Dai and Selim Ali are two of the better numbers. The lead singer is an Israeli Arab. I like the old Ampeg on the album cover.

steve simels said...

I had never heard of that one. Wow.

Faze said...

I have this one on scratchy vinyl -- Jerusalem by the Hello People (one of your trends we're all glad didn't catch on: mime rock!)

Gummo said...

No mention anywhere of Robert Zimmerman?

Man,what's wrong with you!

steve simels said...

Bob Dylan is Jewish?

Edward said...

Since you did the Jewish thing awhile ago, I'll stick with other members of the mid-East;>

The Cure: Killing an Arab
Nick Lowe: Egypt
The Bangles: Walk Like An Egyptian
Steve Martin: King Tut
Frank Zappa: Sheik Yabooti
Richard Thompson: Dad's Gonna Kill Me
Squeeze: Take Me, I'm Yours

David said...

Whaat? No "Rhoda Mendelbaum" by The Doughboys? That's some omission. I'm not trying to give you a guilt trip but...ok, i'll just sit here in the dark.
Brian Eno's "Miss Shapiro" must have been written about a lady of the faith, albeit not a member of Hadassah, and although I'm not much of a Phish phan (pheh!) they have a ditty called "Suzy Greenberg." Oh, and "Jesus Christ" by Big Star. Apparently, like Dylan, Jesus was Jewish.

Edward said...

...and Jonathan Richman: Eqyptian Reggae

Brooklyn Girl said...

steve simels said...

Bob Dylan is Jewish?

Not any more ... :-)

An oldie but a goodie: "You Belong To Me" by The Duprees.

See the pyramids along the Nile ...

Edward said...

Tom Waits: Road To Peace (which I may have entered in the last Jewish contest)

And more Jonathan Richman: Abdul and Cleopatra

Ok, going to work now, will let others play;>

TMink said...

My understanding of the Desmond Decker song is that it is quite flattering for the MOT. Rastas and Coptic Christians both identify themselves as the lost tribes of Israel. They view themselves as Jewish (with the Coptic Christians in Ethiopia, there is actually dna evidence that gives some creedence to their claim. They also say they have the Ark of the Covenant.)

The Rastas identified with the Jews in slavery in Egypt and this song is an identification with their plight. Also, the Babylonian diaspora is important to their understanding of themselves as you often hear them complaining about Babylon. (Here in Nashville there is a cheap electronics store called Babylon!) Imitation is a sincere form of flattery!

And I agree with you that Rock is a wonderful mutt of different styles of music and that it displays significant hybrid vigor! In that, it is wonderfull American (by way of England of course.)

My favorite track from the Middle East is a killer version of Rock El Casbah by Algerian Rachid Taha. No information as to whether he considers himself one of the lost tribes too.

Have a great weekend everyone!


Michael said...

Kinky Friedman: They Ain't Making Jews Like Jesus Anymore
The Mekons: Old trip to Jerusalem
Steve Earle: Jerusalem & Rich Man's War

Dave said...

With their usual subtlety, Adam Sandler meets Neil Diamond:

Anonymous said...

Anything by Sam the Sham and the Pharaohs.

TMink said...

Wooly Bully!

pete said...

Dylan used to be a hunchback, too.

Verification word: refusif

NYMary said...

You didn't really skip "Rock the Casbah," did you?

And what, no Kiss? Wasn't Gene Simmons born in Israel?

And who can forget the Beastie Boys?

Jeff said...

Silver Jews -- Punks in the Beerlight

"Aincha heard the news? Adam and Eve were Jews."

TMink said...

Adam Horrowitz's sister was a friend in college. Never got to meet him though.


TMink said...

Oh, Adam = King Ad Rock of the Beasties.

Faze said...

I think Esther and Ofi Abarim were the only Israelis ever to chart with a pop single in the US and England. Their song was the appalling Cinderella Rockefella.

Anonymous said...

didn't the Clash sing something about the Casbah? I wasn't really paying attention.

And, hey, I love the Nick Tosches stuff about Jews in R'n'R. How many of the classic black R'n'B songs (Hound Dog; Piece of My Heart), ostensibly stolen/covered by white singers, were written by Berns, Ragavoy, Lieber, Stoller, Pomus, Schuman. Authenticity is a nice bedtime story.



Anonymous said...

No Dictators?

"Little Egypt" by the Coasters (written by you know who). So what if it's about a stripper?

Gummo said...

Actually, "Cinderella Rockefella" was written by the wonderful Mason Williams, and was quite a delightful little song when he performed it on one of his late 60s albums.

Anonymous said...

PS: "Oy Its So Humid" is awesome. The album cover is pretty great also. Those guys are meshugge.


Noam Sane said...

David Lee Roth, he of the assless chaps, which is going to be the name of my country band as soon as I get it together.

Randy Newman's "God's Song".

Nosmo King said...

C'mon people, do I really have to educate you about one Richard Monsour, born of Lebanese stock, influenced by his uncle the oud player, whose first hit was a melody from the old country tarted up with a lotta reverb?

The song was "miserlou", and you know him better as Dick Dale, King of the Surf Guitar. And, frankly, his version of "Hava Nagila" kicks ass, even if I couldn't convince my wife to have it be the hora at our wedding.

Mike said...

Do I get to be the one who brings up The Ballad Of Irving by Frank Gallop?

MBowen said...

And then there's Dan Bern(stein), who, on "Jerusalem", the opening track of his debut album...well, let's just say that y'all Red Sea Pedestrians won't have Passover to kick around anymore.

YouTube doesn't have any decent clips, but you can download the song here.

Bern usually plays solo, but when he went out with a band he dubbed them The International Jewish Banking Conspiracy. They went out on tour with Tony-winning songwriter Stew's band, so the bill was:




steves said...

I think good arguments can be made for both opinions expressed in the second paragraph of the Tosches quote.

Meanwhile, I only have five words to say regarding this week's Listomania: Doc Pomus and Mort Shulman.


steves said...

Heh...that should have been "Mort Shuman." (Guess I was caught up in the spirit of the occasion.)

MJConroy said...