Monday, August 11, 2008

Jewish music (a stress on the ish)

I am very glad to see the wonderful music blog Office Naps back after a long hiatus. (Hiatus - a word I often type but would never dream of using in conversation.) The most recent cocktail jazz exotica post, "The Sea" is pretty Jew-tastic. Apart from a brief mention of Zappa's manager Herb Cohen, a big chunk of the post concerns “Nature Boy” Eden Ahbez, Brooklyn Jewish boy, possible Yiddish theatre alumnus, and bizarre proto-New Age guru. Ahbez was sued by Herman Yablakoff, Yiddish songwriter better known for the wonderful "Papirosen", for stealing the melody of his song "Nature Boy", a hit for Nat King Cole, Sinatra and others. The song featured here, "Tobago", is pretty insane. If you're interested, here is the story of Ahbez's hillbilly mentor, Cowboy Jack Patton, AKA Frank ALoysius Piecuch of Amsterdam, NY.

To celebrate the Beijing Olympics, Music for Maniacs posts some offensive Chinese-related songs. "Chinatown, My Chinatown" was written by William Jerome and Jean Schwartz, the Tin Pan Alley songwriting duo that gave us "If It Wasn't for the Irish and the Jews" (1912): "Talk about a combination, hear my words and make a note / On St. Patrick's Day, Rosinsky pins a shamrock on his coat." MfM posts the Al Jolson version and Milton Brown's Western swing version. (Also, further back in time, here's Mickey Katz's "Yiddishe Mambo".)

I've been meaning to blog about ultra-hip '80s-retro electro act Chromeo for a while, as they make the cultural demographic I belong to (unshaven, white ethnic, academic (one's a literature PhD student, the other an accountant), around 30) look cool. And because they're a neat Jewish-Arab collaboration. So, the release of their single "Momma' Boy" is a good an occassion as any. Hear it at Janimation.

On Pitchfork TV: Azeda Booth, dreamy, glitchy, synthy indie on Absolutely Kosher records. The video is found footage of a Jewish wedding from a more innocent era. ("
Applying the language of fairy tales to actual personal history can create a poignant twinge by evoking how real life fails to match up to our stories. Did the happy couple stay happy, stay together, make happy babies together? Who here died in Vietnam?")

From Berkeley Place: C Rayz Walz and Kosha Dillz-Freestyle vs. Written: "A new Jewish rapper meets an underground rapper with years of street cred behind him. Give it a chance. It's amazing stuff." Song title: "I Love Jews".

And, finally, Sonic Slang present's the Muppet Show's The Count - "as you've never seen him before. (Jewish and horny)"

Previous: Jew-ish music


Graeme said...

Oh for fuck's sake, Bob! You're not a 15 year old who wears exclusively American Apparel clothing (if I'm wrong and you are, I won't read this blog anymore)--you are not Chromeo's demographic.

bob said...

No, Graeme, that ain't me - thankfully. I didn't mean their audience demographic: I meant them themselves. (And actually, I think they might still be on the other side of 30 from me, and I can probably no longer honestly say I'm "around 30".) So, Chromeo make being a paunchy, hairy nerd cool amongst 15-year-olds in American Apparel, which is still good by me. (Am I shallow?)