Dave Grohl & Greg Kurstin Cover 8 Songs by Famous Jewish Artists for Hanukkah: Bob Dylan, Beastie Boys, Velvet Underground & More

What­ev­er you say to peo­ple this hol­i­day sea­son, whether it involves a “hap­py” or a “mer­ry” or a noth­ing at all, maybe we can agree: win­ter hol­i­days can bright­en up a dark time of the year, even if they’re also fraught with fam­i­ly ten­sion and oth­er stress­es. Maybe not everyone’s great at dec­o­rat­ing or singing hol­i­day songs, but we can all appre­ci­ate a job well done. Hol­i­day lights shine like bea­cons on dark, cold win­ter nights… we swoon to the sounds of the Beast­ie Boys’ “Sab­o­tage,” Mountain’s “Mis­sis­sip­pi Queen,” and Peach­es’ “Fuck the Pain Away”.…

Well, I don’t know what your hol­i­days are like, but those all work for me.

There are plen­ty of great Christ­mas songs—many writ­ten and record­ed by Jew­ish song­writ­ers, Andrew Frisi­cano points out at Time Out—and many a great Hanukkah song, some writ­ten by gen­tiles.

But when Dave Grohl and Foo Fight­ers pro­duc­er Greg Kurstin decid­ed to cel­e­brate the Fes­ti­val of Lights and chase away the dark­ness of a par­tic­u­lar­ly dark win­ter, they went with stan­dards you won’t find in any song­book. Their lat­est Hanukkah cov­er, Bob Dylan’s “Rainy Day Women #12 & 35,” maybe comes clos­est to that oth­er big hol­i­day.

After his con­ver­sion to Chris­tian­i­ty, Dylan went wild for Christ­mas, host­ing a “Yule­tide extrav­a­gan­za” on his Theme Time Radio Hour. In their cel­e­bra­tions this year, Grohl and Kurstin decid­ed “instead of doing a Christ­mas song,” as the Foo Fight­ers’ singer said in their announce­ment video at the top, they would “cel­e­brate Hanukkah by record­ing eight songs by eight famous Jew­ish artists and releas­ing one song each night of Hanukkah.” In addi­tion to those named above, they’ve also cov­ered Drake’s “Hot­line Bling,” a favorite of Jew­ish grand­par­ents every­where over the hol­i­days.

Grohl him­self is not Jew­ish, but Kurstin is. In any case, they’ve both thrown them­selves whole­heart­ed­ly into the endeav­or. What would you like to see next up on the setlist? I don’t think they’re tak­ing requests, but a lit­tle “Heaven’s on Fire” might be nice, or a nice long cov­er of “Sis­ter Ray”? Just throw­ing that out there.

The dynam­ic Hanukkah duo have giv­en us a way to reimag­ine hol­i­day music, and with “all the mishe­gas of 2020,” as they write in their Twit­ter announce­ment for the Hanukkah Ses­sions, I think we might as well say why not and seize the moment. See the full playlist of Grohl and Kurstin’s Hanukkah Ses­sions here.

Relat­ed Con­tent: 

Bob Dylan Reads “‘Twas the Night Before Christ­mas” On His Hol­i­day Radio Show (2006)

David Byrne Cre­ates a Playlist of Eclec­tic Music for the Hol­i­days: Stream It Free Online

Hear Paul McCartney’s Exper­i­men­tal Christ­mas Mix­tape: A Rare & For­got­ten Record­ing from 1965

Josh Jones is a writer and musi­cian based in Durham, NC. Fol­low him at @jdmagness

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