Songs of Light for Chanukah

Well, 88 FM, my steady background sound track, particularly on Saturdays with their diet of oldies, decided to devote all day today to “A Light Marathon” for Chanukah. The catch is that many of the songs are “sun” rather than “light” songs, like “Good Day Sunshine” (Beatles), “Sunshine Superman” (Donovan), “Always the Sun” (Stranglers), and even fire, “Ring of Fire” (Johnny Cash), etc.

So I decided to be a purist, and my list is made up of only songs with light in them, some of which I’m sure will not make the 88 FM list. Like this one for example:

The light was so dim, that the poor guy in this song eventually realized that he was on the wrong street!


And when Bill Haley was participating in the invention of rock and roll, while Rocking Around the Clock, he was also dimming those lights:

And from the wonderful blind blues singer Al Hibbler, comes

To stay with the blues, here’s the great Jimmy Reed with


And then, you know, they say that the neon lights are bright on Broadway, but…


But enough of that, let’s try to be more uplifting. Here’s Debby Boone, with this inspirational song. It’s not her fault that Pat Boone is her father, who stole so many songs from black artists:

Debby Boone You light up my life – YouTube

When we went to see The Rolling Stones perform in Tel Aviv on June 4th, before everything around here descended into violent chaos, my son Adi said “I’ll never have a chance to see The Doors or The Beatles, so at least I can see the Stones.” But he can still listen to The Doors:

The Doors- Light My Fire – YouTube

Quite amazing how differently Jose Feliciano interpreted the same song:

Light My Fire – Jose Feliciano (Doors) – YouTube

And here comes Manfred Sepse Lubowitz, otherwise know an Manfred Mann, who undoubtedly celebrated Chanuka in his youth in South Africa:

Manfred Mann – Blinded by the Light – YouTube

And here’s The Boss, with his version of the same song that he wrote:

Bruce Springsteen – Blinded by the Light (Buffalo, NY 22/11/2009) w/dubbed IEM/Aud mix

This was my sister Naomi’s favorite song in elementary school. Here is an inspiring version which accompanied the American civil rights movement, with Tina Turner and Phil Everly singing together:

TINA TURNER BOBBY SHERMAN “This Little Light of Mine” 1970

In this case, it’s the name of this fascinating world music group, based in Istanbul, Light in Babylon, with the Israeli-born lead singer. I was exposed to their existence thanks to the Friday morning World Music program on 88 FM:

And who can forget the unforgettable agonized Woodstock performance by Jimmy Hendrix “by the dawn’s early light”:

Jimi Hendrix – The Star Spangled Banner [ American Anthem ] ( Live ...

Here I can’t resist adding the Hendrix-inspired version of the Israeli national anthem “Hativka” performed by one of Israel’s greatest guitarists Shlomo Mizrachi:

התקווה 2011 – HATIKVA 11‬‎ – YouTube

And then there’s John Fogerty and CCR singing “Long as I can see the Light”, very symbolic for all of us here in Israel and the Middle East:

– Long As I Can See The Light – Creedence Clearwater Revival

On Chanukah we sing “Banu Choshech L’garesh” (We came to drive out the darkness), something we are all hoping for March 17, Israeli election day. I’ll close with this wonderful song written by Peter Yarrow, that he sang at the peace rally in Manhattan in 1989, and many times since. Yes, “Don’t let the light go out/It’s lasted for so many years/Dont’ let the light go out/Let it shine through our love and tears:

Peter, Paul and Mary – Light One Candle (25th Anniversary Concert …

About the Author
Hillel Schenker is Co-Editor of the Palestine-Israel Journal, and lives in Tel Aviv