If you didn’t know, today is Jerusalem Day, the annual celebration of the “City of Gold” (Or, as those of you who’ve been there know: the city of feral cats and the faint smell of urine). And, what better way to celebrate this complicated, contradictory city on the hill than with a complicated, contradictory, list of our favorite Jerusalem songs? We searched far and wide (Read: flipped through our iTunes playlists) before we finally settled on these five great (and one not-so-great) choices.
Dan Bern – Jerusalem
Neo-folker Dan Bern may have broken the surface into mainstream appreciation when he penned the music for Judd Apatow’s Get Him To The Greek, but dedicated Bern fans know his real magnum opus is “Jerusalem” – his ode to spirituality, messianic fervor, love, and eating olives. Nothing but olives.
Neil Diamond – Jerusalem
Neil Diamond is America’s greatest songwriter, and anyone who says otherwise is obviously an idiot. And, while his 1980 remake of Al Jolson’s The Jazz Singer may not have lived up to the seminal original, it still gave us plenty of Diamonds in the rough, including this classic.
Mirah – Jerusalem
It’s hard to imagine a more Jewy name than “Mirah Yom Tov Zeitlyn”. The indie-rock darling has been charming and disarming audiences for a decade and a half with her deceptively simple melodies and lyrics. “Jerusalem”, from 2004’s C’mon Miracle album has been interpreted as being about everything from the story of Hanukkah, to modern Israeli politics. Try not to catch yourself humming it at some point in the next 24 hours. Bet you can’t.
Black Sabbath – Jerusalem
From their entirely forgettable Tyr album. “Jerusalem” is quintessential Sabbath, insomuch as it’s full of sludgy guitars, howling vocals, and is about something vaguely menacing.
Mahalia Jackson – Walk in Jerusalem
“The Queen of Gospel” who, in her free time taught a nobody named Aretha Franklin how to sing, was never better than when she was singing Christian spirituals. Jackson may not have written “Walk in Jerusalem” but damned if she doesn’t own it.
Don McLean – Jerusalem
This sounds like 5th grade book report put to shitty elevator music. Could you make it all the way through? We couldn’t.