December 7, 2010
New Chanukah Song: “Chanukah in West Virginia”
I really wish there were more fun, poppy Chanukah songs. It’s not fair! Christmas has inspired so many great pop songs about love, family, friends, and snow, and all we Jews have to show for ourselves are a few songs about dreidels and Adam Sandler’s Chanukah Song, which really isn’t about Chanukah, but a countdown of famous Jews.
Every year, during the Holiday Season, I pop into my car stereo my Carpenters Christmas CD because the songs are, well, so pretty, and not always about Jesus. Okay, I admit—during the holidays I get an urge to assimilate a little bit because the other team simply has better songs. So you got Matisyahu’s new Chanukah song, “Miracle”, which is really nice, except the video is really strange—Greek ruler Antiochus chasing Jews around Christmas trees. No need for polemics during the holiday season, please.
Chanukah is filled with so many positive messages: light, miracles, heroism. The possibilities for fluffy, catchy, inspirational pop songs are endless! I think the only barrier to a sonorous Chanukah song is the “Ch”-sound of Chanukah. But we can simply pronounce it with an “h” for all the gentiles out there who can’t make that “ch” growling sound.
So when I heard singer-songwriter and composer Scott Simons perform his “Chanukah in West Virginia” song at the Vermont Bar in Los Feliz on the second night of Chanukah, I had to share it with the world. I felt in the song a kindred soul. Scott, may you inspire the Jewish masses—or at least the songwriters. We got some songwriting talent in the Tribe. Hello? If Irving Berlin wrote “White Christmas”, he could easily have written “Golden Hanukah” (“golden” referring to either chanuka gelt or latkas, of course).
Simons explained to me via e-mail why he wrote the song, for your viewing pleasure below.
“I wrote the song last year because I do a holiday show in DC every year and wanted to do an original song rather than the usual which is “Dreidel Dreidel Dreidel” followed by “Last Christmas” by Wham! So I was trying to think of a song that was unique to my situation being one of the few, but proud, Jews from West Virginia.”
His idea was to create a Chanukah song that sounded like classic Christmas song. He recorded it in his home studio in West Hollywood with the keyboard as the only instrument. He just released the video on youtube. (Although I don’t know whose video is stranger—his or Matisyahu’s. Hopefully I’ll have cause to worry about better videos next year….)