‘I want you to kiss my mezuzah,” Rick Moranis croons on a loungey waltz, about a woman’s biblical needs. It’s a track off the comedic actor’s new album, My Mother’s Brisket & Other Love Songs, a funny slice of Jewery set to klezmer, dance, folk and jazz styles. We spoke to Moranis about rumbas, women and his mother’s choice cuts.
The material of your album is mostly in good taste. But there’s something about the song My Mother’s Brisket itself that is unsettling erotic. You sing, romantically, about her brisket being silky and smooth and wanting to climb into it. What’s going on there?
Well, there’s a long tradition of riffing on the relationship between the Jewish mother and the Jewish boy. But separate from that, I remember as a little kid, my mother happened to make a good brisket. Cousins and uncles and anyone who had been to our house would come up to me, before even saying hello, and say [adopts unctuous tone], “You know your mother’s brisket is so, so good.” I don’t know. To say that to a kid? I was seven years old.
And to dial it up a notch, you add a rumba rhythm to the song and call it a love song, right?
Oh yes, I went for it. My producer Gary Schreiner and I decided that if in a parallel universe this song was played at a bar mitzvah or wedding, every son would go to the table where their mother was sitting and dance with her. So, it’s a dance song. And being such a fan of those fifties and sixties albums, that were called Andy Williams’s Moon River and Other Love Songs or whatever, I just thought I had to use that. The whole thing has a vintage quality to it anyhow.
There’s the sexy first song, I’m Old Enough to be Your Zaide, which is about an older man and a much younger woman. It has the line, “Get up off my lap, I gotta take a nap.” Is that autobiographical?
Just the inspiration. It was about five years ago. Right after my second kid left for college, I was walking down my block and there was this very sweet, attractive, young girl. She recognized me, and was smiling. We started a little conversation, and then it kind of went in a certain direction. I asked her old her father was. She said 65. Then I said “What’s the oldest guy you’ve been out with?” She said “younger than you.” So I decided, for the good of all mankind, to tip my hat and move on. As I walked away, the title came to mind. And, as Harland Williams said [imitates the comedian’s gruff voice], “A good song writes itself from the title.” And, so, it presented itself, and I took it from there.
This interview has been edited and condensed.