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August 22, 2003 - Image 68

Resource type:
Text
Publication:
The Detroit Jewish News, 2003-08-22

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attending yeshiva," lives with his wife
and two kids in Peekskill, N.Y., where
he runs his Web site,
deanfriedman.corn.
n 1977, a sultry, green-eyed 21-
year-old singer/songwriter
In the site's chat room, devoted fans
banter about his music — "My 4-year-
named Dean Friedman released
a song called "Ariel," an ode to a
old was caught singing a DF song at
free-spirited Jewish girl from "way on
breakfast yesterday!" wrote Stu from
the other side of the Hudson" who did- Abu Dhabi.
n't eat meat, got high and "wore a peas-
Then there's Friedman's "Frequently
ant blouse with nothing underneath."
Asked Questions" section. Example: Q.
"Ariel" was a hit, and though some
Is the reason Dean didn't record for 17
compared the Paramus, N.J.-born
years because he's a reclusive millionaire
Friedman's elastic vocals to a stoned
living off his royalties in the mountains
Kermit the Frog's,
of New York State?
others thought his
A. ROTFL (Rolling
wry style and urbane
on the floor laughing
wit resembled David
).
Bowie's and Bob
"People imagine
Dylan's.
that I sold all these
He enjoyed some
records and had all
success in later years,
these hits and made
but following a skir-
millions of dollars
mish with his record
and retired,"
label — the now-
Friedman said in a
defunct Life Song —
recent interview.
Friedman's three top-
Now gray-haired,
selling albums went
with a trimmed
out of print, and the
beard and a little
whinnying chorus of
belly, he smiled
"Ariel" faded along
wryly. "The reality is
Dean Friedman: 'People find
with the Carter
that I never got paid
the [Web] site and write and say
administration.
for any of the sales
things like, 'I can't believe I finally of those records. Just
Friedman's career
found
you — I've been looking for business and politics
fared somewhat better
your
records
for 25 years.'"
— record companies
in England, where his
have been f
managers were savvier
artists since the beginning of time.
and his moony duet "Lucky Stars,"
"I've made more money as an inde-
with singer Denise Marsa, became a
pendent artist selling 10,000 records
Barry Manilow-esque guilty pleasure.
directly to my audience through my
But in 1981, the BBC banned his
Web site than I did selling a million
song "McDonald's Girl" because the
records as part of the mainstream indus-
government-owned station wouldn't
try, and I think that's very revealing. It
play songs that insinuated anything
illustrates how odious the industry is."
commercial. Friedman's U.K. label
Since songwriting didn't exactly pay
dropped him, and not long after that
the bills, Friedman has also spent the
he filed for personal bankruptcy.
better part of the last two decades mak-
Though the Barenaked Ladies later
ing musical, synthesizer-inspired toys
covered "McDonald's Girl" — there
for kids' museums around the world.
was even a recent dance-remix version
They come in fantastical shapes — one
— "Whatever happened to ...?"
looks like a beach ball sprouting breasts
became something of a prefix to Dean
— and they have names like "The
Friedman's name.
Booble" and "The Honkblatt."
Now 47, Friedman, who says he was
Today, Friedman's largest group of
"raised with a strong sense of my
American fans is under the age of 10,
Jewish identity" and spent four years

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