Shine on: Brothers Lazaroff record ‘quarantine songs’ at Sun Studios in Memphis


2019 file photo of David and Jeff Lazaroff.

Bill Motchan, Special For The Jewish Light

It was 1946 when Elvis Presley recorded “That’s All Right Mama,” his first release. The location was Memphis’ Sun Studio, now considered by many as the birthplace of rock ‘n roll. B.B. King, Johnny Cash, Jerry Lee Lewis and Roy Orbison all recorded there. Earlier this week, the Brothers Lazaroff made the trip to Memphis to record new material at Sun, which is now a national landmark.

David and Jeff Lazaroff were joined in the Sun Studio by their frequent collaborator, Rabbi James Stone Goodman. The brothers recorded new material—they call them their “quarantine songs.”  Some were written with Goodman. A new spoken-word piece was also included in the mix. A release date for the new songs is still pending.

Prior to the Brothers Lazaroff visit to Sun, the famous studio was notable for its connection to a couple of other Jewish artists. Presley’s maternal great-great grandmother Nancy Burdine was believed to be Jewish. Burdine’s daughter gave birth to Doll Mansell, who gave birth to Elvis’ mother Gladys Smith. Hence, according to Jewish law, Elvis is technically a Jew.

Then there is singer-songwriter Marc Cohn, who is definitely Jewish. Cohn has described his successful hit single “Walking in Memphis,” as a song about a Jewish gospel-music-lover. The song’s lyrics name-check a number of the city’s musical roots locations, including Graceland and the Jungle Room (there’s landsman Elvis again). The song begins with the lyrics:

“Put on my blue suede shoes

And I boarded the plane

Touched down in the land of the Delta Blues

In the middle of the pouring rain.”

The first line is a reference to the location where “Blue Suede Shoes” was originally recorded, by Carl Perkins, in 1955. The Presley version came out the following year. The location where Perkins recorded the rock ‘n roll standard was none other than Sun Studio.