Tag Archives: Song

Halftime at the Super Bowl – The Creation

31 Jan

Carol Channing at Super Bowl VI

Halftime at the Super Bowl has transformed into the pinnacle of music stardom. You know you have made it when you grace the over-produced light-show of the Super Bowl. Well, my guess is you are aware that you have made it far before the Super Bowl. Acts like Bruno Mars, Beyonce, Madonna, and the Who have performed at the grand American affair since 2010, and pop songstress Katy Perry will team up with Lenny Kravitz in Arizona tomorrow (hopefully after a Seahawks smash-down first-balf of football – sorry Jets fan here). But was the Super Bowl halftime show always such an illustrious affair? Did you know the first Super Bowl halftime show was performed by none other than the University of Arizona Symphonic Marching Band?

So, when did the Super Bowl halftime show become must-watch television? Well, keep in mind that the Super Bowl has grown as an event as the NFL has grown in popularity. For many years, though, the Super Bowl was a themed affair with marching bands and cheer teams. In 1993 the NFL (and its sponsors) learned how TV ratings generally increase when you shove a superstar in front of the cameras and say sing. It was the King of Pop, Michael Jackson, who turned the production into, well, a real production. After MJ’s 1993 show at the Rose Bowl, the Super Bowl started to attract some major talent, and today it is arguably the most watched event and easiest way for artists to get their music to oodles of drunk and overstuffed viewers.

Way before MJ, before the Super Bowl halftime show transformed into the massive spectacle we will all view tomorrow, there was one famous performer who graced the Super Bowl stage, becoming the first true singer to be featured at a Super Bowl (minus Carol Channing, who is pictured above at this Super Bowl). Before the King there needed to be a Queen.

Super Bowl VI – Jan. 16, 1972 at the late Tulane Stadium. As a salute to the revered Louis Armstrong, who passed away in June of 1971, Ella Fitzgerald played an excellent set. I don’t have a video of the SB, but here is Ella with Louis performing “Summertime”. Check it out and enjoy the big game tomorrow!

A Seder Plate of Music

14 Apr


Happy Passover! I write this as my stomach prepares for a night of hedonistic gluttony. While one of the central tenets of Passover is the prohibition of leavened items, the food is still absolutely sumptuous. Passover is perhaps my favorite Jewish holiday. Like all holidays, it presents the opportunity to see family, but Passover has a unique component – the seder. The Passover seder encompasses the annual retelling of the Jews’ biblical exodus from Egyptian bondage, and, like most elements of any good religious story, there is a great deal of symbolism and purposeful repetition. I am partial to storytelling, and, for Jews, this is one of the most epic tales of survival, revenge, and escape. With the recent release of Noah, it will not be long before the tale of Moses is offered in IMAX 3D.

So, in celebration of the first night of Passover, I thought I’d be a bit creative with a post before I start noshing on matzoh and hard-boiled eggs. Perhaps the most crucial element of Passover is the seder plate, which features six items – variations of food, of course – that are all symbolic of an emotion felt by the enslaved Jews. I wonder what song might fit each item?


1.) Maror and Chazeret

Maror and Chazeret are bitter herbs. In the Ashkenazi tradition (Eastern European Jews), horseradish or lettuce is used. As one might guess, Maror and Chazeret are used to symbolize the bitterness and terror of slavery. Unfortunately, slavery persisted well beyond Egypt, and the work songs of African Americans in bondage demonstrated just how awful slavery was (and still is). “Trouble So Hard” by Vera Hall is an excellent example of a bluesy work song from the early 20th century, which represented the troubles of African Americans during slavery.


2.) Charoset

Charoset is a sweet mixture of nuts, apples, cinnamon, and red wine, which represents the mortar that Jews used to build houses in Egypt. While the sweetness seems slightly paradoxical, it tastes a whole lot better than mortar! What best represents the dirty work of construction? How about a little late Rolling Stones?


3.) Karpas

Karpas, traditionally parsley or celery, is dipped in salt water to represent the tears of Jewish slaves in Egypt. Get the sense this is not the most optimistic holiday in the world? Crying. I don’t need any more of an excuse to use Roy Orbison’s operatic voice for the purpose of this post! The end of this song is one of the greatest vocal climaxes in any song ever – just saying!


4.) Z’roa

Sacrifice. The Z’roa is a roasted lamb or goat shank bone that represents the traditional Pesach sacrifice. It is not eaten. It is just on the plate to represent the sacrifice. A song to represent animal sacrifice? Elton John – “Sacrifice”? No. This is tough, and the food is calling my name. We go with Evanescence.


5.) Beitzah

The Beitzah also represents sacrifice (the festival sacrifice), but it has come to also represent mourning, as eggs are traditionally the first things served to mourners after a funeral. Let’s go with the latter option for our song. Unfortunately, mourning is an inevitable human emotion and thus several songs are written about the subject. Eric Clapton just happens to have one of the most heart-wrenching of the bunch.


Gosh, perhaps we shouldn’t say HAPPY Passover. Well, in the story the Jews escaped slavery! Jews have a history of powerful persistence, and no matter the adversity (and it continues to exist), Jews continue to persevere, and this holiday is an example of this. Enjoy the festivities if you celebrate!


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