The lesser-known Jews of my life’s soundtrack
Music has always been a passion of mine. Now don’t misinterpret that statement; I am in no way a creator of music (my musical talents include knowing how to play 3 chords on the guitar and failing to be able to sing on key, ever), but I pride myself on being a strong appreciator of other people’s musical talents. Since I was a small child, I have been surrounded by music, whether it was on long family car trips, going to concerts, singing around campfires, or just sitting in my basement with friends, upon the discovery of my mother’s old record player. Many of my fondest memories come from such moments and I have, therefore, been able to create (in my head, of course), a soundtrack of my life, based on these many musical moments.
I came to an incredible realization the other day, while searching for “Jewish celebrities” online. Researching to do a blog post on a completely different topic, I ended up discovering that many of the artists I have grown to know and love over the past 24 years of my life are, in fact, Jewish! It was one of those great moments, like when you’re traveling through a foreign country and you see a fellow backpacker with an Israeli flag on their pack. You feel an instant connection to them, and, despite the fact that you are meeting them for the first time, something feels just…comfortable. Of course, a few of my favourites I always knew were members of the tribe (Bob Dylan, Leonard Cohen), but some were complete surprises! So, I decided to compose a play list of all those tracks that have had an impact on my life, whether they are mentally linked to great moments, or just songs that make me smile. Here they are: my favourite songs by my favourite (newly discovered) Jewish artists.
1) Baby Beluga – Raffi
This one is half for laughs and half for a trip down memory lane, as I’m sure everyone in my age demographic has a soft spot for this beloved song. It’s probably one of the first cassettes that any of us owned, and I’m guessing there are a number of you lucky ones out there that have even seen it performed live.
2) The Only Living Boy in New York – Simon and Garfunkel
Like I mentioned before, in my family, car trips were filled with music. Before my sister and I were old enough to fight over which tape we would listen to, my parents would put on their own favourite albums, which greatly contributed to the development of my musical taste. James Taylor and Van Morrison were both regulars on these trips, but for me, it was Simon and Garfunkel that I grew to love the most, with this being my favourite of their songs.
3) One Headlight – The Wallflowers (Jakob Dylan)
It wouldn’t be a proper recount of my musical history without a shout out to the ‘90s. It was during this time period that I really started to discover my own taste in music, buying my first CDs and recording mix tapes off of the radio. I have to say, in terms of ‘90s one-hit-wonders, this is one of my all-time favourites!
4) Blues Run the Game – Adam Durtiz (of the Counting Crows)
Throughout my musical journey of the ‘90s, I came across a band that, from that moment on, I will forever refer to as my ultimate favourite. I got my first Counting Crows CD for my 12th birthday, and since then have taken every opportunity to see them perform live (a total of 4 times in 3 different countries). One of my favourite performances by far was lead singer Adam Duritz’s cover of Jackson C. Frank’s Blues Run the Game, performed outside at a concert in Central Park, New York.
5) Us – Regina Spektor
I have been lucky enough, over the course of the last 10 or so years, to have experienced some incredible live performances. One of my best experiences was attending Bonnaroo Music Festival last year, in Tennessee. Although I have always appreciated Regina Spektor’s music, Bonnaroo gave me the chance to see her perform live, and I was totally blown away. Despite the 40 degree weather and intense levels of dehydration, it was still one of the greatest moments from the 4-day event.
Today has been a great day for me! Not only have I spent the day listening to some of my favourite songs of all time and reminiscing on great life moments, but I also discovered that I share an incredible connection to these amazing musicians that I have respected for so long. I encourage all of you to take the time to think about your greatest musical moments, and you might be surprised as to what you find!