Wednesday, April 24, 2013

Rotem Shefy and Leat Sabbah-Karma Police

Wow, I am so glad that this clip has gone viral because otherwise I wouldn't have discovered the very talented Rotem Shefy and Leat Sabbah. The first time it may sound kind of wierd but it gets better with every listen and you'll soon find yourself shouting "yala yala!" Also, wonderful footage of Jaffa and the flea market. Reminded me of another great mid-east cover I heard recently-Black Dog by Boom Pam and Karolina-very refreshing!

Wednesday, April 17, 2013

Eran Zur with the Meitar Ensemble-He and She

8 P.M on Monday night marked the end of the Memorial Day for fallen soldiers and victims of terror and the beginning of Independence Day celebrations. This year I decided to pass the last few hours of Memorial Day in complete silence-no tv documentaries, no songs on the radio, just silence. And it did help with the sudden transition to "happy mode" which I always find very difficult. By 8:15 the neighbours were already playing loud music and I could hear kids in the street waiting for the fireworks and their favorite singers to perform on stages in the streets. Later in the evening I went to a party in Be'er Sheva with friends. I can't say that there was an "Independence Day" vibe because most of the music wasn't Israeli but it was a fun night, especially considering that for a change we didn't have lessons the next day as well as the fact that we didn't have to worry about rockets, something that's not very obvious even though it's been very quiet (for us) in the last few months. I came back home in a good mood and checked my facebook news feed. There were the usual pics of celebrations and late night barbeques and then I saw a status by my cousin from Newton, MA: "family's safe and doing OK. Thoughts and prayers go out to everyone back home". My first reaction was that there had been some kind of natural disaster like a hurricane or earthquake  so I was quite in shock when I checked the news and read about the horrific Boston Marathon bombings. I was relieved to hear that it could have been much worse: There were three dead and about 170 injured but then I remembered from over here that "slighly injured" means that even though a person's injuries aren't fatal, it could also mean that he has lost an arm, a leg or even worse. The number of wounded is now 176 meaning that 179 families are forever changed, not to mention the city of Boston. I grew up in the Boston area until I was 6 and have fond memories of weekends at the Boston Common and walks along the Charles River. I came back for a visit a few years ago and loved the bookshops and second hand shops, the friendly people and the Beacon Hill area. My parents always smile and have a twinkle in their eyes when they recall memories from their student life, despite the difficulties of being in a foreign country. My dad once told me that May is Boston's loveliest month and as a student this was very frustrating because of the exams! I really hope that those wounded will be able to enjoy May in Boston.
This is one of those songs that has stayed with me from the first time I heard it. When I heard the original with Rona Kenan in the background my heart trembled quite a bit when I heard the line "After the blast in Tel Aviv" although each line here is very emotional and beautifully written by Eran Zur and I had some difficulty translating them into decent English. Zur recently released an album of new versions to his songs with the Meitar Ensemble. Some of the versions are better than others and some make you want to hear the originals instead (like "On Nights of Full Moon") but overall the versions bring the songs to a new level, with this one especially.You can buy it here.

He and she, looking at each other
For two years now
She's in a relationship with someone else
And he-except for sometimes, he's alone
After the blast in Tel Aviv, looking at each other
She's so happy to see he's safe
On the way to the sea, looking at each other
The heart pounds, pulsing, the mouth stays silent

It's dangerous to fall in love like this
Therefore the compromise in love

Working hard to forget it
Labour frees you from the bitter taste of missed opportunity
And so they live from afar, not speaking a word
They remain strangers to each other

It's dangerous to fall in love like this
Therefore the comromise
In love
To fall in love like this
Therefore the compromise
In love
To fall in love like this
Therefore the compromise
In love

He and she, looking at each other
For two years now

Wednesday, April 10, 2013

Avi Lebovich & The Orchestra-April

The week between Yom HaShoah (Holocaust and Heroism Remembrance Day) and Yom Hazikaron (Day of Remembrance for Israeli Fallen Soldiers and Victims of Terror) is always kind of weird. On the one hand, things are back to normal-there are no sad songs on the radio, no special programs on TV and the newspapers are back to dealing with everyday stuff like the upcoming budget cuts. Yet there is something in the air that makes you think more about where we are as a country. To me Independance Day is for celebrating while these days are more for thinking and reflection-just like we do in the days before a birthday. It seemed to me that this year Yom HaShoah was focused on the quickly dissapearing survivors and their personal stories-and how the younger generation will preserve their memories. I was invited to an alternative Holocaust ceremony (unfortunately I couldn't make it) by friends called "Zikaron BeSalon" or "Memories in the Living Room" in which a group of friends gather in a living room and talk to a holocaust witness. Schools are always bringing witnesses to talk to students but this is very different because of the intimate atmosphere. I heard from a friend that after their witness went home the group stayed and talked until late at night about a wide range of subjects including personal feelings that arised from the account, how they see Israeli society in connection to the Shoa, its treatment to the survivors and where things are headed in the future. "Memories in the Living Room" started 3 years ago by a 27 year old and this year 200(!) houses participated and a few dozens outside Israel. Next Sunday is Yom Hazikaron which hits much closer to home even if you luckily don't personally know a fallen soldier or victim of terror. Last year a friend of mine posted on Yom Hazikaron a status about how she will take the day to read about the personal lives of fallen soldiers-not just how they died but also who they were, what they liked, what they dreamed of and I think I'll do the same. Someone from abroad once told me how much respect he has for Israel for being so strong and succesful after going through so much and I hadn't given it much thought until this week of remembrance and celebration of life.
I really love this song by Avi Lebovich & The Orchestra and usually I'm not too into jazz and specifically the sax but here it sounds really beautiful. A warm reminder that despite all of the sadness we are in April, the lovely month of blossom and growth. You can hear their excellent album here.

Wednesday, April 3, 2013


I think this song really captures the whole "back to routine" feeling in the air after the long Passover break. These guys seem so tired-you can see it in their eyes, hear it in the singing and especially in the lyrics. I have to admit that like a lot of other songs by The Biluim I don't completely "get" the lyrics and the entire meaning of the song. It seems to be about being tired of the intellectual life but there seems to be something more to it. Or maybe not. Habiluim are known for their controversial (and very catchy) lyrics and have gained a cult status, especially among young lefties (but not just) since their debut album in 2003. I remember a few years ago I caught on TV at night their clip "Garbage Truck" and was thinking "Who are these guys? And where can I hear more of their music?" It was so different from everything else at the time. I just read now on Wikipedia that "Habiluim (Hebrew: "הבילויים", a name given to people who took part in the Bilu organization) is an Israeli, theatrical rock & polka band formed in 1996 by Noam Enbar (Bass & Vocals) & Yammi Wisler (Electric Guitar) as a reaction to the deep sense of abhorrence they felt listening to contemporary Israeli Pop music, which they viewed as means for escape from the harsh Israeli reality...The grim contents of the band's songs are often accompanied by lively dancing music, drawing from the klezmer sounds of the Jewish ghetto, combined with Russian and Balkan folk music, and inspired by composers such as Kurt Weill and Hanns Eisler." ( I always knew they were popular, but I didn't know they were so popular and was a bit surprised that the tickets to their recent reunion shows (after taking a break in '07) sold out so quickly. I caught their hugely anticipated performance at inDnegev in October and you could really feel among the audience the buzz of excitement in the air, which kind of clashed with the band members' apathy (but of course that's why everybody loves them so much). Of course they began with their famous line from "Bab El Wad 38/א" "I'm not here to entertain you. I'm here to ask a question" which pretty much sums up their music, even though its done in a very entertaining way.

It seems to him that lately
It's harder to sleep
There's a sort of owl in his throat
That looks toward the darkness

And all kinds of theatre
Send brochures to his head
And every glance in the hall
Is a hidden promise of happiness

It's the talk again
Of Berthold Brecht and Haim Hecht and Chaim Topol
It's not the age it's the act
And this act is already tired of yourself

You go down to the living room and yawn
You feel its lit
You press the switch
But it doesn't feel different

Goes into the shower and washes
Takes out a towel and wraps
The sweat of the heart is a bat
Only at night she wakes up

Gloria Estefan in a ball gown
She claps her hands in the rain endings
No matter how much you approach her, she still isn't close

It's the talk again
Of Robert Crumb and Robert Smith and Robert Henig
Its not the wall its the fakir
And this fakir is already tired from lying on the bed

So he takes everything he hasn't solved
And he multiplies it by six
Takes off from it three
And substracts it from one hundred

And it seems to him that lately
It's been simpler to sleep
When there are drops on the newspaper
He figures he is weeping