In an interview with the New York Times, Moranis describes the origin of this project: “The writing of these songs came out of the fact that so much of my life had moved from being very involved with show business, which in the Jewish aspect is very secular, back into family and friends and community and much more of a practicing Jewish culture. Many of my friends and family were more involved with the faith, with their temple, with the practice of rituals, so day to day it was back in the orbit I was in, which it hadn’t been for a long time. As I was thinking of things, these ideas for these songs were coming up, and I started writing them.”
My Mother's Brisket & Other Love Songs suffers from the same challenge as many parody albums – they are (somewhat) amusing in short spurts but there are very few that you can listen to start-to-finish without the joke getting old. I had trouble finding anything to “anchor to” to really get involved with this disc. The music ranges from jazz/cabaret to klezmer but none of it really caught my ear to warrant a repeated listen. My other challenge is that I don’t have the cultural reference points to many of the topics Moranis references and had to Google words like “Zaide”, “Balabusta” and “Mezuzah”.
While some of the lyrics / rhyming couplets are clever, that too got old quickly as I just wasn’t that interested in Moranis’ perspectives [and most of it seemed like schmaltz]. As an example, in the same New York Times interview (reference/link above), Moranis describes the song “Live Blogging the Himmel Family Bris” as “really fun to be explaining ritual circumcision in Nashville... And this whole blogging stuff has been bugging me for years. Talk about no filter on things. People feel free to do and say whatever they want with no vetting, with no editing, with nothing. And I thought, I’m going to put these two ideas together and explore something.” Again, it seems like I'm running into a generational/cultural gap as this seem like the views of my grandparents set to “cruise ship” music.
Other songs explore Moranis’ obsessions with his cleaning lady (“My Wednesday Balabusta”), his mother’s brisket (“My Mother’s Brisket”) and Christmas (“I Can’t Help It, I Just Like Christmas”). [Is it really funny that a Jewish man sings a quasi-country song about liking Christmas??]
If you are a Rick Moranis fan, my recommendation is that you would be better served picking up 1981’s Great White North album.