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Rick Moranis, going from ‘Ghostbusters’ to mom’s brisket, draws on Jewish roots in new album

By Matt Robinson/

When fans picture Rick Moranis, the first things that probably
come to mind are comedy and scenes from science fiction movies such as “Honey,
I Shrunk the Kids,” “Ghostbusters,” “Little Shop of Horrors,” or “Spaceballs.”
But Moranis’s latest project conjures up an image much closer to home.

Click photo to download. Caption: The cover of “My Mother’s Brisket & Other Love Songs,” the new album by Rick Moranis. Credit: Warner Bros. Records.

Moranis recalls that the smell of his Jewish mother’s home
“would get you from five blocks away.”

“The whole place smelled like Friday at 6 p.m., and that was 24
hours a day, seven days a week, 365 days of the year,” Moranis says in an
interview with

That smell is the inspiration behind Moranis’s new CD, “My
Mother’s Brisket & Other Love Songs” (Warner Bros. Records/LoudMouth).
Released June 18, the album is comprised of 13 comedic songs exploring the
smorgasbord of Moranis’s Jewish heritage.

Moranis actually started his career not on the big screen, but spinning
records at the Toronto-based CHUM-FM radio station, accompanying himself on the
guitar during his earliest solo comedy routines. In 1982, Moranis and his
fictional brother Dave Thomas from the movie “Strange Brew” and the comedy show
“Second City Television” scored a Billboard Top 40 hit with “Take Off.” Nearly
25 years later, Moranis hit the charts again, but this time as a country singer
on his album “The Agoraphobic Cowboy.”

This year, Moranis went back to the studio to record a set of
songs that he was literally born to play. The result is “My Mother’s Brisket”
(Warner Bros./LoudMouth), a baker’s dozen of songs that Moranis says even
non-Jews can relate to. Moranis had an early inclination to include a glossary
for his heavily Yiddish-infused collection of songs, but ultimately decided
against the move.

“Other than Gary Schreiner,” Moranis tells, mentioning his friend and producer, “almost all the
musicians [on the album] were gentile.”

“They completely got everything [in the songs] because it was
either self-explanatory, or I would set [the Yiddish lyrics] up with a few
lines,” he says.

For example, Moranis says that once he explained that a zaide is a grandfather, the song “I’m
Old Enough to be Your Zaide”
had everyone in the studio laughing.

“And if you don’t know, you can get it from the song,” he says.

Among the other offerings on the album are My Wednesday Balabusta,” “Belated Haftorah,” “The
Seven Days of Shiva,” and “I Can’t Help It, I Just Like Christmas.”

Though Jew and non-Jews can both relate to most of Moranis’s
compositions, perhaps the most universally relatable tune is the title track,
“My Mother’s Brisket.” Asked what it is about brisket that makes Jewish children
so loyal to the homes they grew up in, Moranis says he does not know for sure,
but calls homemade food the “sensual part” of growing up in a Jewish home.

Moranis says the “bounty of food and love and joy… wraps into
all the emotions and it is just tone symbol of many representations of that.” 
isn’t surprising then, that when it came time to choose a title track for the
new album and to take a cover photo, Moranis went back …read more

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Posted by on June 25, 2013. Filed under Jewish News. You can follow any responses to this entry through the RSS 2.0. Both comments and pings are currently closed.