Lauren Mayer: Where are the Jewish Country Music Stars?

When you think of incongruities, Jews plus country music is right up there with pickles & ice cream or Paris Hilton & Wallace Shawn – a pair that just don’t seem right together.  (Although there is one colorful exception, Kinky Friedman, who fronts a band known as The Texas Jewboys and who came in 4th in the 2006 Texas gubernatorial race, and who inspires me with his mix of politics and comedic music.) (Not that I’m considering running for governor in the near future!)


The lack of Jews in country music is actually surprising – Jewish songwriters are responsible for many of our classic Christmas songs, and given country music’s tradition of chronicling pain and suffering, it would seem to be a perfect fit.  I like to say I’m from in the south – southern California, to be precise, but growing up in Orange County (where there were even fewer Jews than Democrats) did make me feel as much of an outsider as many country singers lament.  But I hadn’t really made the connection until I heard Peter Sagal, the host of “Wait, Wait Don’t Tell Me” on NPR, crack a joke about an upcoming appearance in Nashville.  Suddenly it seemed like a match made in heaven (and now I feel like Melanie Griffith’s character in “Working Girl,” in that climactic elevator scene where she explains to Mr. Trask how she connected his company to radio, or something along those lines).


Chanukah/Hanukkah/etc (choose your favorite spelling)  is really the ultimate country holiday – muscular heros, old fashioned candles, and fried food, so this week’s video is what may be the first country Chanukah song – enjoy!



(And remember, there are only 4 shopping days left til the first night of Chanukah, but copies of my Chanukah comedy CD, “Latkes, Shmatkes,” are available on iTunes, at, and at!)


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