Monday, December 29, 2008

Hanukkah Day 6: Safam's "Candles of the Menorah"

Safam logoWhen I was putting together that suggested playlist for the Lite Rock station, I came across a song and a band I hadn't heard of. The band is Safam and the song is "Candles in the Menorah." It was one of those mind-blowing moments I live for. Where had this been all my life? Seriously. A solid band, writing songs from the Jewish experience, in ENGLISH (at least some of them)? How come I never heard of them? (Ok. I know the answer to that: I grew up attending an isolated Conservative synagogue in Connecticut with few Jewish friends. How could I have heard of them?)

Safam describes themselves as "Safam, the Boston based six-man band, has dominated Jewish music in America with their "Jewish-American Sound" since 1974. Often copied, never duplicated, they are originals -- original music, original lyrics, original arrangements -- their songs have become a fabric of our Jewish lives." I believe it. I see a lot of testimonials around the internet commenting on how Safam is beloved.

While "Candles in the Menorah" lack's the anthemic power of Peter Yarrow's "Light One Candle" and the home-spun sing-along quality of Flory Jagoda's "Ocho Kandelikas," two new additions to the standard Hanukkah repertoire, it captures a rich and timeless depth of experience in a radio-friendly manner. To some degree, "Candles" is nothing more than a non-confrontational universalization of Chanukkah into a Jewish flavored 'be good to others' Christmas carol. That's what makes it so unique. "Candles" won't be sung in Hebrew school concerts, but should be on every radio station in the US that wants to take the idea of "holiday" music seriously. While the punk, folk, jazz loving teen-ager I used to be wouldn't have been overwhelmed with "Candles" the light-rock sound, I would have been blown away to hear this song on a radio station. Twenty years later, I would still be. As an adult music fan, I'm still not overwhelmed by the light-rock sound, but as a parent I'd put one of their albums on in a heart-beat and would expect my kids to love it.

I don't have the full "Candles in the Menorah" available, but here's a sample from CD Baby. For more info and different ways to pick up this song and other Safam albums, see their website.

Safam's "Candle in the Menorah" (sample)

No comments: