Borscht Boss: Brooks Arthur on Catskills nostalgia, Barbra Streisand, and Adam Sandler?


Brooks Arthur

Brooks Arthur started his career as an audio engineer in the 60s, working on “My Boyfriend’s Back,” “The Locomotion,” and “Leader of the Pack” before building up to producing albums for the likes of Liza Minelli and Carole King. He struck up a friendship with a young breakaway comic named Adam Sandler led him to produce Sandler’s ubiquitous “Chanuka Song,” after which they co-wrote possibly the most scatological Chanukah movie ever, Sandler’s “Eight Crazy Nights.”

Arthur’s latest venture is The Jewish Songbook, a CD filled with new and veteran performers doing renditions of Jewish songs. Most hearken back to the Borscht Belt melodies of the 1940s and 50s, but there is also the liturgical (Barbra Streisand doing “Avinu Malkeinu”), the modern Israeli patriotic (“Hatikvah”), and the unexpected—Adam Sandler doing a version of “Hinei Ma Tov” that not only isn’t a joke song, but also manages to showcase his competent classical tenor. JTA spoke to Brooks Arthur the day before the CD’s release about the record, the performers, and how it felt to sing alongside Barbra Streisand.

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