Jeremy Fury’s Songs for Hanukkah Ignites a Spark in Listeners 

Interview with Jeremy Fury of Jeremy & The Harlequins

The holidays being at the end of the year are a time for relaxation and preparing for what’s ahead in the coming year, but it can also be a great time for reflection. With fervent unrest in the world, it can be difficult to look back and even scarier to look forward to what’s next. With all this in mind, Jeremy Fury of Jeremy & The Harlequins released Songs for Hanukkah, a two-track ep all about seeking light in dark times and celebrating the intimate moments that make the holidays so special. With “Light in The Gutter” inspired by a Hanukkah party at a trendy bowling alley, and an energetic rock rendition of the classic Hasidic song “Kol HaOlam Kulo,” Songs for Hanukkah invites listeners to conjure their own fighting spirit and look towards a brighter future. 

Q. Around the holidays we’re constantly inundated with Christmas songs and Hanukkah tunes aren’t heard as much. How does it feel to show Hanukkah some love with these songs? 

A. Great. A few years ago we put out a Jeremy & The Harlequins Christmas EP and I thought it was time to do the same for Hanukkah. Even though I wanted to do it for quite some time, I didn’t have the right song until last year. I wouldn’t have done it without the right song or songs. Also, I wanted to bring some new energy to the sound. It rocks a little harder than most Hanukkah songs or holiday songs.


Q. “Light in The Gutter” has quite a story behind its conception from a bowling alley in Williamsburg to a title suggestion from your Rabbi. Tell us how this song came to be.

A. We had a Hanukkah party about a year ago at a popular bar and bowling alley in Brooklyn called The Gutter. I helped organize it with the Rabbi here in Greenpoint and I wanted to call the party ‘Hanukkah in the Gutter.’ The Rabbi thought the title of the party might come off a bit too debaucherous sounding, so he suggested ‘Light in the Gutter’ which has a more meaningful tone. The title got me thinking about what a song like that would sound like, and what it would be about. The song is about finding “light” in the darkest bits, finding love in places where you don’t expect it. 


Q. “Kol HaOlam Kulo” is a classic Hasidic song with your own rock n roll twist. How else have you combined your own musical preferences and style in these holiday songs? 

A. I learned the song a couple years back and I always thought the brevity of the lyrics combined with the melody were so powerful. I had originally planned to record a different song as the B-side to this release, but then had the idea to do Kol HaOlam Kulo with a more intense, heavy rock ‘n’ roll feel. Melodically, I think a lot of Jewish songs lend themselves to that feel, especially in a 60’s rock and surf rock kind of way, so I just went in that direction. Soundwise, I was influenced more by Link Wray, Dick Dale, Lee Hazelwood, and Phil Spector for this release. As for combining my style into other holiday releases, I don’t think I’d be motivated to record these songs if I didn’t put my stamp on it. Holiday music has been done a million times and if I didn’t add any twist or new energy, I think it would be pointless to do at all. Hopefully, this sounds like a new riff on well worn territory.


Q. What are some of your favorite holiday traditions and activities? Does music play a big role in your holiday festivities every year?

A. I love holiday parties, any holiday parties, rock ‘n’ roll holiday shows, cliche things, all of it. New York is perfect for that. We have the tree at Rockefeller, ice skating, lights everywhere, markets, Hanukkah parties, etc. Even dive bars are festive this time of year. I like it all. Everyone is in the spirit and a little brighter. Music always plays a role for me, so usually this time of year I do a few special holiday music parties or events. If I’m not doing them, I’m going to them.


Q. These Hanukkah songs are all about finding light in the darkness and encourage listeners to be brave in moments of uncertainty. Talk about tackling these important themes in holiday songs.

A. With so much darkness right now all over the world, I think it’s an important message. It’s a choice. Is the world all chaos or is there some type of unseen order? I think if you believe in the latter then you start looking for sparks in the bigger picture. I’m really not trying to be really religious with these songs, I think they’re more just simple unifying truths, and I don’t think they are limited to holiday songs. 


Q. The world is in a dark place right now and the holidays aren’t always bright and cheery for some. What do you think these songs and music in general can offer to people in these tough times?

A. I don’t think these are necessarily “cheery” holiday songs. I think they’re songs with an inner fire. These are holiday songs to stoke that spark in your gut. I think the message of these songs are that things will get better and to persevere through the darkness. Everyone I talk to, everyone is going through some inner or outer turmoil right now. I hope these songs help people go through whatever they are going through just a little bit more.

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