It’s Rosh Hashanah, so I’m semi-taking the day away from work today, but I did think it might be fun for us to share thoughts on our favorite Jewish rock stars (for a refresher on who qualifies, check out this astonishingly comprehensive rundown.) For me, it’s got to be the Beasties, because they were exactly my contemporaries, and started out as crappy musicians with a misogynist act and then morphed into lovely, thoughtful men who sounded fantastic, and pretty much in every way, walked the walk—all the while remaining slightly irreverent. Scroll to page 48 here to check out a 1994 profile I wrote of them for New York magazine. And Shana Tova to you and your dearest.
This didn’t show up in my feed until this morning…but, there are so many I can’t limit myself to one. Carol King, Janis Ian, Laura Nyro because I became an intelligent female human with them. However there are many many more I’m attached to for one emotional reason or another––for instance I used to dance around the house with my kids to Walk Like An Egyptian so whenever I hear that song I’m immediately transported back to those days…
My favs from that amazing list are Paul Simon and Steely Dan. And I have to add David Lee Roth!
Beasties are my top too. And Courtney Love. Lou Reed. Yo la Tengo!
But otherwise, Bob Dylan’s gotta be up there? Leonard Cohen. Oh man, Marc Bolan.
Clem Snide is like the Woody Allen of indie rock.
Justine Frischmann — ultimate punk Brit pop who did the ultimate punk thing — threw it all away to become a painter.
I loved Justine Frischmann and Elastica, and once in the 90s got to hang out with her briefly at a music festival. She was so smart and super-cool and nice and didn’t make me feel like the journalist in the room, like most rock stars did. I was really pleased to read a few years ago about how she’d reconfigured her life.
And now I have Elastica’s the Connection (is made) stuck in my head….not a terrible thing 🙂
And you saying that just compelled me to play their entire first album, Suz!
That’s awesome, Kim! She’s such a cool chick, in that right “don’t give a fuck” way. Arty, smart (how Brits use it — intelligent but also hip) and feminist. And their album was a smart, little ripper (nothing longer than 4 mins, if I remember correctly).
Yes, Jax, I totally agree. One of my favorite songs on that album, “Vaseline,” clocks in at just over one minute.
Courtney Love is NOT Jewish at all in way shape or form!
I loved reading that article and browsing through 1994 New York Magazine!
Shana tova! Lucky was my favorite magazine back in college and was so glad to find your blog (and I Want to be Her!) Lou Reed and Johnathan Richmond are my picks ♡
The Beasties ARE awesome for sure but to be true to my heart, its gotta be David Lee Roth!!
Please do yourself a favor and listen to DLR on the WTF podcast a few months ago. He is…beyond words.
You piqued my curiosity, so I am listening to DLR now. He’s threading at least 8 plot threads through his monologue. I’m a little dizzy.
Except for the occasional problematic comment–jinkies, David!?!–he had me laughing frequently. His brain is so fascinating…just when you think he’s off the rails, he reels it in somewhat; it was all Marc could do to hang on for the ride. (No spoilers, the conversation is worth it if only to learn about DLR’s “second career”…mind-blown!)
Great link! Mark Knopfler is my fav. I’ve had a crush on him ever since I saw Dire Straits open their “Brothers in Arms” tour in Jerusalem (1985!). I was working on a kibbutz at the time and the security guards snuck a friend and me into the concert that was in a gorgeous outdoor amphitheater on a perfect night. And I’ll never forget riding on buses with the entire bus singing the words to “So Far Away” and everyone swaying in their seats. And I was indeed so far away from home then.
Jeff Tweedy from Wilco is Jewish. He converted! He got bar mitvahed when his son did (and his wife is Jewish). I love that story.
Me too. Love Jeff Tweedy.
I have seen Wilco and Tweedy more times than I can count (seeing them again next month in Ann Arbor)…
Wow, I realized reading this that I had no idea most of these were Jewish. And yet they somehow forgot Two Live Jews, my favorite band as a kid.
I always had a thing for Country Joe McDonald’s music, especially his disco rock takedown of sexist pigs in the appropriately titled “Sexist Pig.”
How is Barry Manilow on here but not Barbra Streisand? Oy vey.
Such a sad and horrible loss. Here’s a pretty beautiful piece a friend of mine wrote after his death: https://www.latimes.com/entertainment-arts/music/story/2019-08-12/david-berman-appreciation-thomas-beller
Kim, you’ve wowed me 2x now. Friends with Thomas Beller!
I just now clicked and read it. Thanks, Kim.
Mark Knopfler from this list but what about Paul Westerberg? Does he not qualify?
Paul Westerberg! The Replacements used to play my alma mater multiple times a year! They never got the fame they deserved.
Speaking of Paul Westerberg (LOVE), anyone, including Kim, see that adaptation of Nick Hornby’s Juliet, Naked with Rose Byrne, Ethan Hawke and Chris O’Dowd? It’s not amazing, but totally charming and sweet — and also a great nostalgia trip for indie rocker Xers. Hawke plays an indie musician that seems to be a composite of Westerberg, Matthew Sweet (being well known for a breakup album), Ryan Adams (who’s on the soundtrack) and maybe even a little Evan Dando. Nathan Larson (terrific songwriter, formerly of Shudder to Think) wrote the songs that Hawke’s character “wrote”. Movie will speak to anyone who knows someone who never left the 90s.
As a person whose musical taste rarely ventures past 1997, I was looking forward to Juliet, Naked, but lost interest after about 20 minutes. I think I need to give it another shot.
The book was better.
Arlo Guthrie…I used to quote from Alice’s Restaurant every day in high school! It’s probably time for Adam Sandler to write another Jewish-folks ode to follow his Hanukkah Song again!
This is fantastic list to browse through! For me – am stuck between Warren Zevon and Lou Reed, but this is kinda impossible to narrow down. Much love for the Beasties though as they are my era/area too.
I am going to be thinking about this all day.
Happy New Year!
Leonard Cohen and Amy Winehouse.
Carol King, Carly Simon, Paul Simon & Jim Croce. My parents loved listening to these singer-songwriters while I was growing up, and their music brings back many good memories. I also remember happily listening and dancing to Carol King’s “Really Rosie” and “The Simon Sisters Sing for Children” many times on my Holly Hobby record player! Happy New Year!
So interesting! Had no idea about Paula Abdul. Thanks for this and l’shana tova to all who celebrate. May it be a happy, healthy year for everyone.
If anyone needs me, I’ll be giving myself hearing loss with “Check Your Head” in my earbuds.
“Check Your Head” really was the best Beasties album, right?
If you’re a true Beasties fan you would have said “Paul’s Boutique”.
When the Band is on the list, the answer is always the Band. But also Counting Crows so I don’t seem too old and out of it.
Oh yes, Robbie Robertson from the Band.
Great list! I’d add Mike Einzeger of Incubus, a talented, nice Jewish boy who graduated from Harvard, then formed a band with three high school friends from Calabasas, CA. Carole King has a home in the Rocky Mountain town where I live and we’re cordial acquaintances. She’s lovely. I’d recommend her memoir, “A Natural Woman” and “Girls Like Us” by Sheila Weller, a biography of Carole, Joni Mitchell and Carly Simon. It’s a great, gossipy read that successfully brings the 70s back in focus. Shana tova!
Joey Ramone and Geddy Lee!
What about Danny Elfman from his years as lead singer and writer for Oingo Boingo !