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StephanieFox
12-09-2008, 07:19 AM
Why is it that the best modern Christmas songs like White Christmas, "We Need a Little Christmas", "Silver Bells", "Rudolph the Red Nosed Reindeer," "The Polar Express," "Sleigh Ride," "Let it Snow," and "Santa Baby," "I'll be Home for Christmas," "Rockin' 'Round the Christmas Tree," and even "Oh, Holy Night," were all written by Jews who don't even celebrate Christmas?

donroc
12-09-2008, 08:14 AM
Because some of us get into the spirit anyway.

My assimilated parents in the 1930s provided a tree and all the works until Pearl Harbor, from age 3-9 for me. I even believed in Santa Claus until age six when I discovered where they hid the presents. No Hanukkah bushes in those days. Even my maternal Orthodox grandmother got on the floor and played with my electric train one year.

CatSlave
12-09-2008, 08:21 AM
Why not?
Everyone needs to feel comforted, loved, special...no matter what religion.

A loving grandfather figure doesn't hurt anyone.
Who cares what religion it represents, if any?

Ciera_
12-09-2008, 08:42 AM
0.o
donroc, you're OLD!
Lol...okay, sorry, but none of my grandparents own computers, it's strange for me to see someone talk about the 30's on the internet. It's downright refreshing.

Silent night was written by a Jew? I find that a little hard to believe. But maybe they knew that there was a bigger market out there for Christian holiday songs than Jewish ones, and said, 'ah, screw it.' and got rich off of what worked?

Williebee
12-09-2008, 09:18 AM
Silent Night was written by a German priest. (But it's not in Miss Stephanie's list.)

But the Irving Berlin stuff, I do believe Mr. Berlin was a Jew. Gene Autry recorded Rudolph, but Johnny Marks wrote it. nuts now I have to go look. Yes, Mr. Marks was Jewish.

Anyway.... Beats me. Why are some basketball coaches short clumsy guys?

My guess would be: "For the money."

rugcat
12-09-2008, 09:39 AM
Because Jews have a long history of appreciation for literature, theater, music, and creative talent in general. And thus have produced many wonderful actors, comics, and songwriters.

Does the name Jacob Gershowitz ring a bell? No? How about what he eventually changed it to -- George Gershwin.

And Christmas is a wonderful topic for a songwriter -- themes of family, peace on earth, caring and love. It has become a ritual of universality in this country, something that draws people together. It's not just a holiday for Christians any more -- it's more inclusive than that. Santa is as ubiquitous as Christ. So who wouldn't want to write a Christmas song?


I'm a musician and a songwriter. I've written Irish ballads, barroom blues, and jazz tunes. I wrote one winter Christmasy song, but never anything specifically about Christmas -- not because of religion, but because it's so difficult to do without falling into cliches and sappy sentimentality. If I could, I would.

And let's not forget The Christmas Song (Chestnuts Roasting On An Open Fire)

Mel Torme -- Russian Jew.

Smiling Ted
12-10-2008, 11:01 AM
Why is it that the best modern Christmas songs like White Christmas, "We Need a Little Christmas", "Silver Bells", "Rudolph the Red Nosed Reindeer," "The Polar Express," "Sleigh Ride," "Let it Snow," and "Santa Baby," "I'll be Home for Christmas," "Rockin' 'Round the Christmas Tree," and even "Oh, Holy Night," were all written by Jews who don't even celebrate Christmas?

Actually, although there are rumors (http://www.newworldencyclopedia.org/entry/Adolphe_Adam#Religion) that Adolphe Adam (who composed "O Holy Night") was Jewish, odds are he wasn't, and received a Catholic funeral.

We seem to specialize in the non-religious Christmas song. Snow, sleigh bells and reindeer, yes; Christ child and herald angels, not so much.

StephanieFox
12-11-2008, 02:48 AM
I guess I'm going to be clearer when I post again about something like this. Hmmm. Me and my dry humor. Although Jews did write all the Christmas songs I listed (and more!) I wrote the question as kind of a nudge in the ribs. I think it's pretty funny that my people wrote the Christmas songs that have become the most popular and few of the people who sing them (or love them) realize this.

Jews also wrote some of the best non-Christmasy popular music of of the 1910s through the 1960s like Hound Dog and Spanish Harlem for example. Jews hung out with Black musicians and the two groups influenced each other, which is why Minnie the Moocher has a Jewish feel and Gershwin sounds so bluesy.

I wasn't really expecting serious answers, although I was happy to read them. I just thought that the smiley face I posted would make my intent clear.

So I'll ask another question. How come Christmas songs sound so good and Hanakkah songs suck eggs?

StephanieFox
12-11-2008, 03:35 AM
If you are interested in Gershwin and how his roots influnced his music, I recommend the CD GERSHWIN The KLEZMER. I saw these folks in concert and interviewed Voss for an article and was very impressed.

Also:
http://articles.latimes.com/2000/nov/17/local/me-53401


Did you know that you can sing L'cha Dodi to the tune of Minnie the Moocher and vice versa?

dclary
12-12-2008, 04:17 AM
Did you know that you can sing L'cha Dodi to the tune of Minnie the Moocher and vice versa?

You think that's a trip?

Try "Amazing Grace" to the tune of "The Theme From Gilligan's Island"

For the final verse, change to the coda/finale verse of the theme, and merge the lyrics.

"When we've been there ten thousand years bright shining as the sun
With gilligan! The skipper too! The millionaire and his wife!
We've no less days, to sing his praise, here on gilligan's isle!"

StephanieFox
12-19-2008, 05:08 AM
check this out

http://www.interfaithfamily.com/arts_and_entertainment/movies_theater_tv_and_music/The_Jews_Who_Wrote_Christmas_Songs_2008.shtml

Gravity
12-23-2008, 02:15 AM
You think that's a trip?

Try "Amazing Grace" to the tune of "The Theme From Gilligan's Island"

Amazing Grace also works with the tune from House of the Rising Sun. Truth.

RAMHALite
12-23-2008, 03:56 AM
L'cha Dodi[/I] to the tune of Minnie the Moocher and vice versa?

For those familiar with the blessings that accompany an aliyah (congregant going up to the platform where the Torah is read), the tune of the blessing Baruch Hu et Adonai Ha M'vorach; Baruch Adonai Ha M'vorach Le'Olam Va'ed is exactly the same as Gershwin's "It Ain't Necessarily So" from Porgy and Bess.

What a wealth of liturgical music tradition these composers mined! And if Christmas music penned by Jewish composers helps those of another religious tradition get into the spirit of a season when love, peace, joy, hope, and tolerance are celebrated, so much the better!!

Happy Holidays to ALL,

RAMHALite

donroc
12-23-2008, 04:02 AM
And The Wedding of Minnie the Moocher. Great non-liturgical druggie lyrics.

StephanieFox
12-24-2008, 08:48 AM
I don't know where the Jewish connection is in the following (except, perhaps for the melodic style) but St. James Infirmary, another Calloway hit, was about a V.D. clinic patient.

And then there's the very non-Jewish Symphonic Fantastique, a love and drug-induced orchestral piece by Berlioz, with demons an' everythin'.

donroc
12-24-2008, 04:40 PM
Urban legend? When Cole Porter hit a lack of hit slump in the late 1930s, he was told by a Jewish composer (Berlin?) to compose Jewish. Hence, My Heart belongs to Daddy.

StephanieFox
12-28-2008, 07:43 AM
Porter was the one really talented and popular white popular composer in his generation whose work seems to have transended time. "My Heart Belongs to Daddy" is a great song.

Ralyks
01-27-2009, 09:55 PM
Why is it that the best modern Christmas songs like White Christmas, "We Need a Little Christmas", "Silver Bells", "Rudolph the Red Nosed Reindeer," "The Polar Express," "Sleigh Ride," "Let it Snow," and "Santa Baby," "I'll be Home for Christmas," "Rockin' 'Round the Christmas Tree," and even "Oh, Holy Night," were all written by Jews who don't even celebrate Christmas?

To quote Homer Simpson, "What? A Jewish entertainer?"

All of the great religious Christmas carols had already been written by Christians sometime in the preceding 18 centuries. Only the secular carols remained to be written, and who better to write them than non-Christians? It's rather hard for Christians to write Christmas songs without...well...soundingly blatantly Christian. And all but one of the songs you mentioned are secular. One might argue that it's all part and parcel of the secularization of the Christmas holiday.

There is also the factor that, in modern times, for whatever reason (and I have my theories) Christians have largely failed to produce great art. I'm a Christian who lurks in this forum because I find the discussion interesting, so I'm not trying to insult Christianity; I'm just observing a cultural phenomenom. Modern Christian art, music, and literature tends to reflect a ghettoization rather than the worldliness (bad word choice??) of older Christian art, music, and literature. Modern Christians (particularly Protestants) simply aren't producing as much great art as modern Jews, modern agnostics, and modern atheists.


So I'll ask another question. How come Christmas songs sound so good and Hanakkah songs suck eggs?

Probably because it's simply not a longstanding part of Hanakkah tradition to write large numbers of songs celebrating the event, and probably (more importantly) because the event is not at all central to Judaism the way the birth of Christ is to Christianity (and therefore, as such, is less likely to inspire great music). Christians don't have a lot of really moving Feast of Circumcision songs, for instance. And, finally, because when it comes to religious music (I'm not talking about secular music), Jewish religious music probably has a narrower cultural influence than Christian religious music.

Higgins
01-27-2009, 10:04 PM
To quote Homer Simpson, "What? A Jewish entertainer?"

All of the great religious Christmas carols had already been written by Christians sometime in the preceding 18 centuries. Only the secular carols remained to be written, and who better to write them than non-Christians? It's rather hard for Christians to write Christmas songs without...well...souinding blatantly Christian.

There is also the factor that, in modern times, for whatever reason (and I have my theories) Christians have largely failed to produce great art. I'm a Christian who lurks in this forum because I find the discussion interesting, so I'm not trying to insult Christianity; I'm just observing a cultural phenomenom. Modern Christian art, music, and literature tends to reflect a ghettoization rather than the worldliness (bad word choice??) of older Christian art, music, and literature.

I suspect this is as much because "Christian" has been more and more narrowly defined since say 1870. By the 1930s, people like father Coughlin (the "radio priest" and a major American fascist) were using "Christian" to mean fascist and I doubt that Christianity has recovered from its excusion in the 1930s into being closely identified with fascist parties around the world (such as various eastern European "Arrow Cross" type christian nationalist militias and Croatian-style Catholicism and so on).
By the 1940s, if you wanted a breath of fresh air and/or an escape from the ideological oompha-band lockstep of the 20th century, Christianity was no longer the place to go. Existentialism and eventually structuralism seemed more open to inventive thought.