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Let Us Now Praise ‘Nice Jewish Girls’

Loudon Wainwright III, whose memoir was published last week, was never quite so wonderfully lecherous as when he pined for Perlsteins, Bernsteins, Levitts, and Finks

Matthew Fishbane
September 18, 2017
Wikimedia Commons
Wikimedia Commons
Wikimedia Commons
Wikimedia Commons

The publication last week of Liner Notes, Westchester blue-blood Loudon Wainwright III’s folksy anti-folk folk-hero memoirs, is as good an occasion as any to dredge up his impeccable 1971 anti-ballad semi-ballad, “Nice Jewish Girls.” The third track on Album II, it contains the unimprovable closing lyric, after a self-deprecating set-up about Episcopalian school and Confirmation:

Perlstein, Bernstein, Levitt, and Fink
Ain’t Nordic names I know
But the problem is: those girls gee whiz
Make my juices flow

Of course the payoff is in the delicious stretching out of “juices” to highlight the corny-ass pun… that somehow just works.

In the 1970s, albums were still constructs whose A-side/B-side order mattered, and “Nice Jewish Girls” makes a 2-minute transition from “Motel Blues,” a song about seducing (or worse) an underage groupie in a trashy motel room as an antidote to rockstar loneliness—to “Be Careful There’s A Baby In The House.” So: blame the Jews.

Matthew Fishbane is Creative Director at Tablet magazine.

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