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.