They Might Be Giants: “Feast of Lights”
Hanukkah ended yesterday, I see on the calendar, and since I didn’t get a Hanukkah song in during the holiday, as I had suggested I might earlier this month, the day after is as good a day as any. I’m no more Jewish than I am Christian, or any other particular religion, so I only know pop Hanukkah songs that I’ve heard by chance — which, essentially, is one: the excruciating Adam Sandler song. And since I find Sandler about as funny as Jerry Lewis — which is to say, not at all — I couldn’t bring myself to post that song here. So I took it upon myself to search out a pop Hanukkah song that would fit in here at Reselect.
As it turns out, the Hanukkah musical canon isn’t nearly as fruitful as that of Christmas. (No surprise, obviously — if it had been, I wouldn’t have had to search something out to begin with.) Thankfully, however, there were a couple that I found to be quite suitable for my purposes, and ultimately I went with a group that I sometimes enjoy very much and other times find too clever for their own good: They Might Be Giants. This particular song of theirs fits into the former category. Called “Feast of Lights,” it appeared on a 1999 compilation called Festival of Light, Vol. 2, released, I imagine, to take a step in the direction of filling that void of modern Hanukkah-related songs.
“Feast of Lights” brims with They Might Be Giants’ typical humor, deftly straddling the line between heartfelt and make-you-chuckle lyrics. And it’s doubtful they could write a song that isn’t at least a little catchy, and “Feast of Lights” is certainly that: a very simple melody, played very simply on piano and toy piano (or, more likely, a sampled toy piano), but somehow it manages to stick with you for quite a while afterward. Rhyming “Hanukkah” and “harmonica” probably also has something to do with that:
The only thing we have is fights,
But there’s got to be a change tonight.
Please be nice on this feast of lights.
We never get together at all
Until the last day of Hanukkah.
I got you a harmonica,
And a bag of chocolate coins.
So Happy Hanukkah to all of you who celebrated — hope it was a good one!