Among my favorite moments from Al Jarreau (who was born in Milwaukee and passed away yesterday) is this parody of Neil Diamond’s 1980 remake of The Jazz Singer.
You know it’s going to be great the moment you see Sid Dithers (Eugene Levy) playing the father as a glorious soul-singer mashup of Lawrence Olivier’s Jewish cantor father, complete with ginormous glasses and thick accent, and Stevie Wonder’s braid/dreadlocks and wardrobe.
The film opens (it’s the “Movie of the Week” on SCTV) with Jarreau in the studio with his father, singing his big hit at the time, “We’re in This Love Together.” Dad loves his son’s work and has big plans for his career, so when Yussel (Jarreau) says he has to leave for shul (Yiddish for synagogue), an argument ensues:
Wait a minute, Pop. How many times do I have to tell you? We’ve been through this so many times. I don’t want to be a soul singer. I want to be a cantor. Why do you think I’ve had my head buried in the Torah all these years? Ah, man, it’s something that I’ve got to do. Don’t you understand?
If you’ve seen the Neil Diamond version of the movie (and by the way, wasn’t it was fun seeing him on the Grammys last night and hearing his still-strong, distinctive voice?), then you’ll get the jokes. In case you haven’t, at least here’s the trailer to give you an idea.