In 1956 when Elvis’ songs – “Don’t Be Cruel,” “I Want You, I Need You, I Love You,” and “Love Me Tender” – were hitting number one on Your Hit Parade, a Jewish girl from Philadelphia grabbed the top spot from the King. Myrtle Audrey Arinsberg – better known as Gogi Grant – the eldest of six children born to Russian-Jewish parents, reigned for five weeks at number one with “The Wayward Wind.”
As a teenager, I would sit on my bedroom floor listening to old records of Belgian singer-songwriter, poet, and performer Jacques Brel. I didn’t need to keep a journal, because his lyrics wove together everything I felt at the time. Brel had a fire within, and his anger, longing, passion, and truth blazed through every word he sang. His music, raw and real, transformed and fed my soul; it informed and shaped who I am today.
This month marks the 45th anniversary of the release of singer-songwriter Carole King’s landmark album, Tapestry, which, along with her more than three dozen 1960s hits, is considered by many to be the soundtrack of their lives. With more than 25 million units sold, Tapestry was the bestselling album by a female artist for a quarter century. On February 19, PBS’s American Masters series will mark this milestone with Carole King: Natural Woman.
From his Ziggy Stardust alter ego to his latest album — a jazzy, avant-garde rock release called “Blackstar” released just two days before his death — Bowie racked up some interesting Jewish connections.
Judaism is a religion of words, and yet whenever the language of Judaism aspires to the spiritual it breaks into song, as if the words themselves sought escape from the gravitational pull of finite meanings. There is something about music that intimates a reality beyond our grasp. Words are the language of the mind. Music is the language of the soul….The Torah is God’s libretto, and we, the Jewish people, are God’s choir, the performers of God’s choral symphony.Indeed, it is our choirs and the music they generate that help create many of our most uplifting and highly spiritual moments.
Moses spoke to the heads of the Israelite tribes, saying: "This is what the Eternal has commanded: If a householder makes a vow to the Eternal or takes an oath imposing an obligation on himself, he shall not break his pledge; he must carry out all that has crossed his lips." - Numbers 30:2-3