When the sun sets this evening, the final night of Chanukah will commence, ending an eight-day spree of phone calls from nagging Jewish mothers and the always pleasant gifting and receiving of holiday socks.
Also coming to its unfortunate annual close? The (adorable) singing of the Chanukah prayer as the candles of the menorah are lit. But, surely, this eight-day stretch isn't the only time of year in which the Jewish people rock.
On that note, we present to you the following list, wherein we've, ahem, chosen our eight favorite Jewish musical icons--a mitzvah if ever we saw one.
If nothing else, we believe this list stands as empirical proof that bagels, although fantastic, are not the greatest thing our people have contributed to modern society.
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Little-known, not-at-all true fact about the man born Robert Allen Zimmerman: Originally, his song "Blowin' in the Wind" was about the flames atop the candles in the menorah.
Paul Simon & Art Garfunkel
The folk-singing duo is credited with a lot of things these days--not the least of which is its early, spot-on affection for older ladies. Then, we called her, "Ms. Robinson"; today, we call her "Cougar." But there exists a less, but still notable, reveal within the fine song, remembered for its prominent affiliation with the movie The Graduate, the young Jewish man's obsession with the phenomenon known as the Shiksa Goddess. (Unclear? Ask a Jewish co-worker familiar with Yiddish.)Neil Diamond
Another fun, little known, not-at-all true fact: When Neil Diamond sings "Hands, touching hands, reaching out, touching me, touching you," in his song "Sweet Caroline," he's not referencing anything naughty; rather, he's simply explaining the way to start a killer dance horah dance party.
C'mon. Her voice is like buttah.
Randy loves L.A., and for good reason. It's been good to us.
George and Ira Gershwin
These Jewish brothers from Brooklyn (born Jacob and Israel Gershowitz) are responsible for a number of still-prevalent classic Broadway and standard tunes written during their heyday of the 1930s. Another not-true fun fact: "Rhapsody in Blue" may or may not have been initially inspired as a Chanukah color response to the otherwise red-and-green prevalence of the winter holiday season.
Jerry Lieber & Mike Stoller
The classic 1950s songwriting duo was responsible for hits and big and wide-ranging as "Yakkety Yak" and "Jailhouse Rock." And like all good Jewish boys, Grammys adored them, sending them cards stuffed with as many dollars as they are old in years on each birthday.
Noted friend of Andy Warhol and New York City-based rock pioneer, influenced an entire generation of indie rock with his Velvet Underground project. His songs often centered around dark themes, which, as we all know, is an allegory to the fact that Maccabees' temple would have been dark itself, were it not for the candle oil lasting for eight days--the reason behind our celebrating Chanukah in the first place.
Honorable Mentions: Leonard Cohen, Adam Duritz, Chris Cornell, Kinky Friedman, Burt Bacharach, Perry Farrell, Danny Elfman, Mama Cass Elliot, Ramblin' Jack Elliot, Ben Kweller, Susanna Hoffs, Lenny Kravitz, Sammy Davis Jr., Lisa Loeb, Barry manilow, Bette Midler, Pink, Neil Sedaka, David Lee Roth, Regina Spektor, Shel Silverstein, Dinah Shore, Gene Simmons, Max Weinberg, David Berman.
Observer staffers Noah W. Bailey, Merritt Martin, Jesse Hughey and Mark Donald contributed to this list.