November 29, 2007
Top Chanukah tunes
Scroll to the bottom for quiz answers
It's the same problem every year: There are a million songs about Xmas and three about Chanukah. OK, maybe not quite that, but you get the idea. In a world where "Chanukah O' Chanukah" and "I Had a Little Dreidel" just won't do, songwriter Adam Chester created a holiday miracle: a real Chanukah song that is being played on the radio that you and your parents can sing -- together: "Eight Days and Nights."
"I was asked to write a Chanukah song by one of the executives on KOST," said Chester, of the L.A. radio station where his song can be heard practically 'round the clock until December. "They were getting a lot of calls from Jewish listeners wanting more Chanukah songs. One of DJs knows me, and word got around, and they asked to me write a Chanukah song."
And, Chester said, the listeners love it: "I get e-mails that say, 'Finally, there's a Chanukah song that isn't restricted to Jewish listeners.'"
The tune, which is from Chester's "Water Is Wide" CD, didn't take long to create.
"It took about a day to come up with lyrics," said Chester, who has been playing piano since he was 5. "The music was first. First the 'Every day's a miracle' melody popped out -- but I didn't have the words till I was driving down Laurel Canyon. And thought, 'It's a miracle I didn't get killed driving down this road.'"
His now-4-year-old son also gets a mention in the song, which premiered last year on the station and is now on the playlists of Clear Channel-owned stations around the country. (The USC grad also has a 19-month-old son and a "very supportive" wife.)
But this song isn't like the other Chanukah ones you might have heard.
"Chanukah music is so 'ethnic,' and I wanted to write something a little more mainstream. So I wrote right after I finished working with Elton John for the first time," said Chester, who arranged and conducted the choirs for "Elton 60: Live at Madison Square Garden" and continues to play in the entertainer's band.
"I thought -- wouldn't it be neat [for a Chanukah song] to have a gospel choir?"
Yes, the song has one -- a group of students from Washington Prep School in Los Angeles, who come in on the chorus: "Every day's a miracle. Celebrate the miracle. Let the candle burn for eight days and nights."
The ballad is a beautiful salute to both the holiday and to miracles in general.
Chester was born in New Jersey on Dec. 25, so he jokes that when he was young he would look out the window and see all the lights in the neighborhood and tell his parents: "I can't believe you did that for me."
But now that Chanukah songs can be found regularly on the radio this time of year, is there any chance that Chester would write a song about another Jewish holiday?
"Rosh Hashanah would be a good one," he said. "'O Te Reh' was one of my favorites. Rosh Hashanah would need something uplifting -- for people of all faiths. I listen to Christmas songs, why shouldn't everyone listen to a Rosh Hashanah song?"
Since We've No Place to Go...
We at yeLAdim love this time of year -- even though there's more chance of "California Sun" than a "Winter Wonderland."
Wouldn't it be cool if Los Angeles could have a snow day? What would you do if there was a major snowfall in Southern California? Unscramble the items on the right to see what we would do -- and please e-mail us at firstname.lastname@example.org with what you would do:
VEHA A WLANOSLB GFITG
EKMA A AOGSLNEWN
LIBDU NA CEI ORFT
ATEREC A NMNWASO
RETWI MEAN NI OSWN
YeLAdim wishes you and your family a very Happy Chanukah!
Quiz answers: 1) Have a snowball fight 2) Make a snow angel 3) Build an ice fort 4) Create a snowman 5) Write name in snow