You’d have to be something pretty special to make me drive 35 miles from Burlingame to Los Gatos (with gas at $4.30 a gallon, no less) at noon on a Sunday with a 1-year-old — who may or may not be napping — in the backseat. But the Macaroons are pretty special.
The Macaroons, a JDub spinoff of the Jewish band the LeeVees, are kind of like if Weezer, the Lonely Island and the Torah had an awesome hipster baby who played guitar.
I absolutely love them. I cannot overemphasize this. Which is why I’m beyond excited to see them performing for free at the Silicon Valley Jewish Music Festival at the Addison-Penzak JCC on Sunday, May 22.
The Macaroons have been in my life for a while. When Levi was 2 or 3 months old, I couldn’t wait to start listening to kids’ music. It’s not that I particularly wanted to put children’s entertainer Raffi on repeat in the car, but for some reason, listening to kids’ music was the sign, to me, that one is a “real” parent.
For a couple weeks there, Levi and I listened nonstop to cheery music about African water buffaloes, ladies who swallowed flies and watermelons that grow down by the bay. And I started to go mildly insane.
Look, I told myself one day on a drive to San Francisco, as “Rita the Cheetah” started up again for the second time, someday Levi will be able to talk — so, of course, I won’t let him listen to Rihanna anymore! — and he’ll ask for this stuff by name. Over and over and over. Why should I risk getting sick of it now?
So since that day, Levi has been on a steady diet of all my favorite music — ’60s rock, Top 40, Irish drinking songs and lots of bluegrass. No baby belugas.
But there was one band that survived the moratorium and was given the honor of a permanent spot on our playlist: the Macaroons.
From the opening lines of their album “Let’s Go Coconuts,” I was completely hooked: “There’s a funny little thingy on the doorpost.” That “thingy” is a mezuzah, of course.
There’s a song, “Elijah,” about leaving the bathroom light on for the Passover prophet (because he’ll need to go after drinking so much, uh, grape juice at every Jewish home in the world).
“Billy Bagel,” which has an accompanying animated music video, is about a bagel who sells bagels. And “Matzah Ball,” which will surely strike fear in the hearts of antibacterial soap–loving parents everywhere, is about finding a matzah ball on a playground (“it landed in the dirt when it went down the slide”), putting it in soup and eating it.
(Both of these songs are what prompted this comment from my best friend, Candice, who has no kids: “So I looked into those Macaroons out of curiosity, and I gotta say, I’m a bit disturbed by how often the songs are about eating the main character or foods acting cannibalistic. It’s the same issue I have with the California Raisins.”)
My favorite song is probably “Dreidel Bird,” which is about a bird who is also, inexplicably, a dreidel. And that’s the beautiful thing about the Macaroons: They tap into the sort of bizarre, even freakish dreams kids have, the kinds of things adults no longer understand, and make them sound completely normal. I can absolutely picture a kid imagining that his dreidel was a bird.
While Jewish musicians often take a more “clinical” approach to depicting Jewish life, the Macaroons turn religion into a weird and wonderful fantasyland of flying tallits and krazy kippahs. Not to mention, their songs are incredibly catchy and not even the slightest bit cheesy or embarrassing (which is good when you catch yourself singing them under your breath every other day).
We listen to “Let’s Go Coconuts” often, with Levi showing off his sweet toddler moves: flapping his arms, shaking his tush, bobbing his head.
So this weekend, you’ll find me in Los Gatos, rocking out to “Apples and Honey,” “Haman! Boo!” and “Maroon Macaroon” with my 1-year-old. It’ll be a trek — but I can’t think of anywhere I’d rather go on a Sunday afternoon.
Rachel Leibold is a copy editor at j. She can be reached at email@example.com. For information about the Silicon Valley Jewish Music Festival, visit www.siliconvalleyjcc.org/music.