Sinatra and God (Not Necessarily in That Order).Posted: July 9, 2007
I’m banking on God being a swinging cat, but I used Sinatra in my first year of teaching Sunday School this past year.
Since music education has disappeared from our public schools, I feel I must do my part to introduce Today’s Youth to good music. I feel God appreciates it.
That sounds flip, but I mean it. Great music, painting and literature are evidence of the holiness in man. There’s no other explanation for art, at least not that I can see. We may share 98% of our genetic material with chimpanzees, but chimps have never produced a Nelson Riddle. If proof were needed of the existence of God, look no further.
So when we covered the Age of Enlightenment (17th-18th century), Frank Sinatra’s version of “Swinging on a Star” (the song that asks the musical question, do you want to study, or would you rather be a mule?) seemed de rigeur.
When we covered the Talmud’s role in the shaping of Jewish community life, sure, it was a no-brainer to show the “Tradition” number from the movie of Fiddler on the Roof—but I made sure my kids heard Ella Fitzgerald’s ecstatically swinging record of “Matchmaker,” too.
Another week, when the theme returned to Judaism’s emphasis on learning, I played “It’s Fun to Think” from Mel Brooks’ first Broadway musical, All American (1962, music by Charles Strouse, lyrics by Lee Adams—their followup to Bye Bye Birdie).
You know what the best part, the absolute best part, was? On the final week of Sunday School, the kids requested “Swinging on a Star” again. It was a Sally Field moment–they’d like it, they’d really, really liked it! I was not unprepared.