HOLLYWOOD. Barbra Streisand’s “A Traditional Jewish Christmas” was the winner of three WASP Grammy Awards last night, winning best album of the year, best female vocal and best ecumenical religious performance.
Streisand’s “Christmas Memories”
“It’s flying off the shelves at Target, and ‘Rudolph the Red-Nosed Gefilte Fish’ was the most popular download on iTunes last week,” the chanteuse says to this reporter in her Hollywood Home.
Shikse Barbie. Actually, they’re all shikses.
The Grammy Awards have become increasingly splintered along ethnic lines in recent years with first Latinos, then Poles and most recently Estonians, Lithuanians and Latvians sponsoring separate ceremonies to celebrate their favorite musical styles. “It was only a matter of time before the WASPs”–White, Anglo-Saxon Protestants, “demanded equal time,” says Billboard music reporter Anton Schultz. “They think they invented Christmas, but it was a pretty Kosher crowd around the manger that night.”
The holidays are all about childhood memories, Streisand says, and her recollections of Christmas past are tinged with a beguiling pathos. “I remember my friend Alicia got Barbie and Ken dolls one year, and all I got was a lousy bag of Hannukah gelt,” she says wistfully. “Right then and there, I swore to myself that I’d become an internationally-renowned pop diva or die trying.”
Streisand has two previous best-selling albums of traditional Christmas songs on her resume, so this time she tried something new; a collection of her own compositions plus contributions from top songwriters instead of mining the overworked vein of commonplace Christmas songs that drive people crazy in shopping malls and elevators from Halloween until New Year’s Eve.
“I figure if people hear ‘Chestnuts Roasting on an Open Fire’ one more time they’ll go postal on the postman when he dumps another load of Christmas cards on them,” she says with a laugh, tossing her hair over one shoulder where a Toyota Prius is crushed by the weight of her hair extensions. “So we came up with all new material.”
Among the songs getting the most airplay is “We’ll be Eating Chinese While the Goyim Chew Their Turkey,” a wistful lament that tells the tale of the Rosenbergs, a family that searches in vain for a place to eat on Christmas Eve in predominantly Jewish Brookline, Massachusetts. When they finally stumble upon Ho Toy, a Chinese restaurant whose steam trays are brimming with moo goo gai pan, General Gao’s chicken and other favorites, they rejoice at their good fortune and wish for peace on earth.
What’s next for the self-proclaimed “nice Jewish girl from Brooklyn”? “I don’t know,” she says thoughtfully. “Maybe an Easter album with ‘Here Comes Peter Cottontail, Schlepping Down the Bunny Trail’.”