All I Want for Christmas Is Good Jewish Pop-Rock

December 25, 2012

Forgive me Father for I have sinned.

At a recent trip to Nashville, I walked into a Christian mega-store called Lifeways across the street from my hotel. What better way to get a taste of Southern culture?

I was floored by the beautiful, impecabble floor filled with Christian books, music, movies, and ritual items. There were more coloring books for kids on the Hebrew Bible here than at all Judaica stores in Pico/Robertson combined. A quarter of the store consisted of self-help books on how to live a better life based on Christian principles. There were a few books in support of Israel.

Music took up a major section of the store, and since I was in Nashville to get in touch with the songwriter in me, I listened to the sample of a singer who seemed to be a Christian rock star: Matthew West.

It was love at first listen. With his powerful voice, West sometimes sings of Jesus, the sticking point for any Jew, but most of the songs on his album “Into the Light” are simply inspirational pop-rock songs about overcoming the travails of life, seeing the light (nevermind the inference to Christian salvation), and making this world a better place. I don’t think Judaism has any real musical equivalent of someone like West, unless there are some Israeli artists I don’t know about. Our big “Jewish” hits are Adam Sandler’s Chanukkah song and the occasional Miami Boys Choir ditty, usually excerpts from Psalms put to music. West songs are moving, uplifting, and truly original, and I wish there were more original “Jewish” contemporary songs that popularize the more inspirational, redemptive, universal aspects of Judaism.

So, in honor of Christmas, this Jew is posting a Christian rock song about our power to change the world called “Do Something.” (Not to worry, no mention of “J”, so it’s kosher. In fact, the refrain, “if not now, then when” is taken straight from the Talmud!)

Merry Christmas our Christian friends!