Tuesday, February 06, 2007

Mamale Cass

I was born in 1961, and from an early age, I was into music. It would be primarily the songs and singer of the late sixties that left early impressions. (okay, aside from "Hello, Dolly", which I loved and sang when I was about five years old)

Because my oldest son is into the classic rock of the sixties and seventies, and the music is heard throughout the house and car - "Put on Q107" is the oft-repeated request -- I often have flashbacks when I hear certain songs or hear the deejay make reference to songs and singers of that era.

Denny Doherty, from The Mamas and Papas, died in mid-January in a suburb just west of Toronto. I'd had no clue he lived in our vicinity, and had no clue he was Canadian-born (Halifax, Nova Scotia.) Of course, radio stations began to play the music of Denny's famous band, The Mamas and the Papas.

Around the time of Doherty's death, my son and I had to go to the library for a research book for an assignment of his. We were in the music section, and I found a "Jews in Music" book for him to sign out and peruse. But I found myself perusing the book, too.

The most common refrain from my mouth was "I didn't know ________ was/is Jewish!"

The most common refrain from my son's mouth was "__________ from ____________ is Jewish" and he proceeded to share some Jewish related tidbit of info given about the named performer.

On this musical journey through the book, I made a discovery that sort of blew my mind. Maybe you're all in the know already, and I'm just slow on the uptake, but I found out that Ellen Naomi Cohen was better known as Mama Cass Elliot. Is this news, or what?!

She stood out for me in my musical memories; this overly large woman who helped make mumus popular in the mid to late sixties, and helped make The Mamas and Papas popular, had always been a source of wonderment for me. And when she died, supposedly eating a ham sandwich while in London, I recalled that too.

Apparently, she didn't choke on a ham sandwich...and apparently Cass Elliot gave birth to a daughter in 1967, never revealing publically the name of the child's father.

There is a site that talks about Jews in music. It features a wonderful piece on Mama Cass Elliot, and Cass's daughter, Owen, maintains a website about her late mother. www.casselliot.com

Somewhere, no doubt, Mama Cass Elliot is belting out "Dream a Little Dream of Me."


Rhea said...

I'm saying it, too: I had no idea she was Jewish. I love finding out this kind of thing. Great post.

Elie said...

I had known she was Jewish; I saw her years ago on a list of Jewish rock stars, along with such more-well known ones as Dylan, Neil Diamond, Geddy Lee, etc. The ham sandwich story is a partial urban legend; somewhat true, somewhat not. If you get the channel "TV Land", this will be one of the subjects on their Myths and Legends episode tomorrow night.

Pearl said...

Rhea: Glad I'm not the only one not in the know about her.

Elie: What a coincidence, huh, about the show tomorrow night. Yes, I read all about that ham sandwich not being what killed Mama Cass.
Go on the website I listed, and you might be surprised at some of the lesser-known rock stars who are Jewish.

Jack's Shack said...

A few years ago I was surprised to hear my son speak about Cass Elliot. Turns out that she was a guest star on an episode of Scooby Doo.

Stacey said...

I really loved her (btw, we have the same taste in music -- that period is my FAVE!). Such a beautiful voice. I think I might have known she was Jewish.

Her young death -- such a tragedy. :(

P.S. Was Denny the father, I wonder. Didn't she always hold a torch for him?

marallyn ben moshe said...

all the leaves are brown...and the sky is grey...ahhhhhhh the 60s...when the air was clean and sex was dirty...no i too didn't know that the mama was jewish...ahhhhhh

Sharon from NY said...

I, too, had NO idea that she was Jewish and I was a major folk music nut! Wow.... Thanks, Pearl!

torontopearl said...

Jack: See what our kids are exposed to...even in cartoon form?

Stacey: I'm clueless about the dad...and apparently so are most people :)

Marallyn: We're talkin' a long time ago when the sex was dirty and the air was clean, huh?

Sharon: Glad to have enlightened you...and MYSELF with that fact.