Beck, the Schlemiel
An Alvy Singer for a new generation?
Is there a more fitting song with which to seal our list of the 100 greatest Jewish songs of all time than Beck’s “Loser”? While the list’s authors, Jody Rosen and Ari Y. Kelman, acknowledge that Beck is barely Jewish—his maternal grandmother is a member of the tribe—they’re spot-on about the particular charms of his break-out debut hit. “Often described as a song of Gen X malaise,” Kelman and Rosen write, “’Loser’ is actually a headier concoction: some folk, some hip-hop, and some Dylanesque doggerel, all mashed-up with the nebbishy neurosis of Alexander Portnoy and Alvy Singer. It’s not a ‘slacker anthem’; it’s a schlemiel’s lament.” Here, then, is the man himself…
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