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ROBERT SIEGEL, host:

As a lifelong Hanukkah observer, I share Jeffrey Goldberg's problem with the holiday, but I don't know what to make of the solution. Goldberg is a national correspondent for The Atlantic and a contributor to Tablet, an online magazine that's billed as "A New Read on Jewish Life," and he's even writing a book about Judah Maccabee, the hero of the Hanukkah story.

But Goldberg finds Hanukkah music uninspiring. And I confess, the song "I Have a Little Dreidel," does very little for me. So at Goldberg's inspiration, we now have a new Hanukkah song by not the first songwriter you might guess.

(Soundbite of song, "Eight Days of Hanukkah")

Unidentified Group: (Singing) Hanukkah, oh, Hanukkah, the festival of lights. In Jerusalem, the oil burned bright. They lit the menorah.

SIEGEL: Jeffrey Goldberg, tell us who wrote that song.

Mr. JEFFREY GOLDBERG (National Correspondent, The Atlantic): The writer of that song is none other than the senior senator from Utah, Orrin Hatch - not, by the way, a Jew.

SIEGEL: And how did Senator Hatch come to write - we should say he writes a lot of songs.

Mr. GOLDBERG: He writes a lot of music, yes.

SIEGEL: How did he come to write a Hanukkah song?

Mr. GOLDBERG: Funny you should ask. I was in his office 10 years ago. When he was considering a run for president, I was writing about that. But all he wanted to do was talk about his music, and he started playing me some of his Christmas songs. And after about the fifth or sixth Christmas song, I said this is great, but what about Hanukkah?

(Soundbite of laughter)

Mr. GOLDBERG: And he said - to his credit, he said, that's a great idea. I should do that. But he got sidetracked by running for president. And last year on my blog, I was reminiscing about the time that Orrin Hatch almost wrote a Hanukkah song for me. The next day, I get an email from someone purporting to be Senator Hatch, saying, Jeff, sorry this is nine years late, but how does this sound to you? And attached were five stanzas of a Hanukkah song. From that moment on, it was a straight shot to the studio.

(Soundbite of laughter)

SIEGEL: It was Senator Hatch getting back to you in nine years.

Mr. GOLDBERG: It was Senator Hatch. I didn't believe it. So I sent an email back and say, you know, is this really Senator Hatch? Call me. And he called me on Christmas Eve, I should note - called me on Christmas Eve to say that, yes, indeed, it was Senator Hatch, and he's ready to go.

SIEGEL: Well, what do you think of Senator Hatch's contribution to the Hanukkah canon?

Mr. GOLDBERG: I find it extremely catchy. I find it - I find the whole thing delightful. It's a wonderful statement about America that the senior senator from Utah is writing Hanukkah music. And you're right. I mean, Hanukkah music is fairly lame, as it goes. My theory is that most Jewish songwriters were busy writing Christmas songs.

(Soundbite of laughter)

SIEGEL: Couldn't get around (unintelligible).

Mr. GOLDBERG: So now, look, where's the market, right?

SIEGEL: Yeah.

Mr. GOLDBERG: So I'm pleased as punch that he did this. And I'm hoping for other members of the Senate, actually, to write Hanukkah songs in the future.

SIEGEL: There is that stately old Hebrew Hanukkah song, "Maoz Tzur," which is "Rock of Ages."

Mr. GOLDBERG: Yes, "Rock of Ages."

SIEGEL: American Jewish kids (unintelligible)�

Mr. GOLDBERG: Can't dance to "Rock of Ages."

SIEGEL: �and learn to their amazement that there is another "Rock of Ages" song�

Mr. GOLDBERG: That's right.

SIEGEL: �which far more people sing.

Mr. GOLDBERG: That's right. That's right. No, it's a sparse canon. And you're right, "Dreidel, Dreidel, Dreidel" - I mean, these are not songs that capture the muscular spirit of a pretty important and interesting historical holiday.

SIEGEL: Well, Jeffrey Goldberg, we should first tell people when Hanukkah is.

Mr. GOLDBERG: Hanukkah starts this Friday night, opening nationwide.

(Soundbite of laughter)

SIEGEL: And people can see the video of the performance of Senator Orrin Hatch's Hanukkah song and see you and Orrin Hatch in the studio as well at our Web site, npr.org.

Thanks a lot for talking with us.

Mr. GOLDBERG: Thank you.

(Soundbite of song, "Eight Days of Hanukkah")

Unidentified Group: (Singing) Hey. Eight days of Hanukkah, come and celebrate. Come and celebrate tonight. Hey.

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