Monday, August 26, 2013

Gabriel Balachsan-Even with my eyes open

Even with my eyes open I do not see a thing
Even with my eyes open I do not see a thing
And I'm the one who saw from above I heard
And I'm the one who kept her so long
Particles of air are fading and floating thinly above us

Even with my legs standing there's a widening pit below me
Even with my legs standing there's a widening pit below me
And I'm the one who caught fire
And I'm the one who roared
And I'm the one who chased signs
Particles of fog are coming towards us to cover us in the dark
Nothing fills me
Maybe god maybe a woman maybe drugs
Will I last another week another year

Only with my eyes closed a world is discovered before me
Only with my eyes closed a world is discovered before me
And it's not pink and has no fairies
And the angels sang toothless
But full of ideas
Which have a clear truth
Nothing fills me
Maybe meat maybe heavy breasts
Maybe eternal sleep and enough…and enough

Last Tuesday afternoon the buzz of Yehuda and Ninet's split quickly spread through the net, mainly joking about the "national tragedy" and the shock it brought to the entertainment world. But a few hours later we mourned a real tragedy-the untimely death of 37 year old Gabriel Balachsan, famous as the guitarist of Algiers with Aviv Guedj but also a highly respected singer and songwriter in his own right, who suffered from Bipolar disorder. He was never shy about his illness as it was a huge part of his life and his music. I first came across Balachsan in an interview he did a couple of years ago-I can't quote sentances but I was very impressed with how he was able to express his complex inner world in such a clear and honest way. I tried to check out his music but it was too overwhelming for me-the emphasis was on the lyrics-long endless monologues which were difficult to digest, also due to their dark content. I felt that I really needed to put aside time to listen carefully to his music while reading the lyrics, like reading a book, and I kept putting it off, I was never in the right mood. Several months ago I came across his songs again, and this time I made an effort to really listen to his music. I couldn't hear more than a few songs but this one, maybe his most famous, caught my attention the most:

Bad flowers and the depression is sour and damned
I lie on the bed all day and think
About how I will end my life,
An air balloon lost in the sky
Steel weights in the body, in the head
I'm sick God I'm looking at the sunrise in a movie on TV
And miss the sun I knew before I broke down
Miss the color of things before they became dark
Nothing moves me
I want to vomit all of this despair
And time crawls about, a door opens, the sun dies
Iron birds are chirping, my eyes are half closed
Watching the grass and it hurts it hurts to sink like this
In the middle of life and to die every day from everything that moves
To chain-smoke to hug the cigarette
To ask her to pray that here you'll get up in the morning and everything was and isn't
Absorbed in memory
And Gabriel gets up from the sick bed and begins to sing
A sing of praise to the real time in which you breathe
The real breathes which are full of glory
And the dew lands on your happy body and fills you with life
To breathe the skies to walk barefoot on moist ground to smile
To dance in the air as if without weight
To feel the music in the body floating in the breathing space
To sing, to jump from the bed in excitement from a day full of surprises
From just a kind of excitement
To drink coffee and to feel the taste
To hug someone, hug something, touch the spirit
To see the color of things
To talk with someone just because without hurting no hurting
Where is it where did it disappear

Darkness shadow of death sandman crumbling with every step
The pounds of feet on the earth are crumbling me
I'm hiding from the world in bed
The eyeball stares stillness visible darkness
A shadow from the past passes by, I choke

What's worth a round eye in front of the sun
All of my writings I burned in the sink
The hand that holds the pen scares me
Like the big abyss in which my world fell which is small and narrow
Like a dark alley
And the eye sees all of the cars and all of the towels hanging on the rope
Moving in the wind whispering to the stones which whisper to the plants
Gabriel what happened to you, moving like a shadow seeing the sights and not being able to
To speak is to whistle the words from the lungs and it leaves me exhausted
Tikun of my grief guides before you
A dog with an injured eye is bitten in a battle in the night of Telmy Eliahu
And there's no one to pray to and no one to ask
Because the night that fell on Sodom is very dark
And the morning doesn't bring light and the sun has no color.
Cos Ochto all of the words and tunes and talk
Only the coffee has taste and the cigarettes burn and this too barely in this hell
I'm stuffed of pills and can't see the end of this damned thing
Walking around like in a particularly bad dream
And I have no words at all to explain the feeling
Everything is sour and thick how can you describe this suffering
Everything's dead, dead
Everything's different
I'm not me
Sealed and sticky

Cos Ochto for everything

The song is very hard to digest but for me it was extremely helpful because at the time (and still today) I was trying to deal with the mental illness of a close family member, trying to understand, just a bit, what's going on in her head and for that I'm very thankful for Balachsan. I talked to her about his death and she had a bit of
difficulty understanding why everyone's so sad-he's obviously in a much better place. Maybe, but there was still hope for recovery, for a happy ending. I recently saw the doco about him and he was so full of life, so full of love for those around him.

He was also an amazing guitarist and really shone when he performed with Guedj in Algiers

I smoke only when I have to
Never more than I have to.
If I had the energy I would get up and shout.
Run away break down never come back again.
A million pills,
The doctors give me.
So I won't scream won't laugh,
Won't wake up anymore. That's the game.
A well designed game,
Not like in dreams you need to move. Move and quickly.
From the sniper's fire from the thought's fire from the sword's fire.
I'm in the pipe.
Now it's four in the morning,
Sweating under the black cotton blanket,
Looking at the crooked ceiling.
I would like to love you.
Without waiting.
Without breaks.
Here and now among the ruins.
To take you with me into the pipes.
Now begins the music of illness.
Music of hell it's not happiness.
It's just depression.
I don't like when they bother me to concentrate in my dreams.
Autumn will come and get rid of all the dirt on me.
And tonight,
You are going to dream the most beautiful dreams.
Our dreams are the true story.
Now I'm perfect.
Now I don't remember any little thing,
Not even a little detail.
And there is and there is and there is
And there is all the time possible, that's left, a month, two.
Maybe a year maybe more.
The pill is already in the blood,
There are no more thoughts,
No more voices,
There is only love among the ruins.
I am in the pipes.
For already several days.
Already several weeks.
Already a good several years.
Maybe I lost all feeling,
Thinking I'm flying but actually on the ground.
So I drink the salty rain.
Stoned from the sea or drunk from the wind, drunk from the wind.


  1. I'm in England and read about Gabriel's death in a small article in one of our national newspapers a few days ago.

    I'd never heard of him previously but decided to check out his music on youtube. I don't understand Hebrew, but the intensity of his music is conveyed so clearly, I can't help but think the music world has lost someone really special with his passing.

    Thank you for the translations - I found the last song in particular extremely moving.

  2. what a terrible loss ..... what a wonderful and talented young person, saw the film made about him a few years ago.... his honesty about his hurt, pain and illness.... and his success ....his prize ... his family .... what an amazing person. was shocked to see he had passed away..... he hurts no more .... no more suffering .... if only he could have been cured .... he leaves behind a legacy ... RIP ... Gavriel .... look down upon us and show us the way to a better life in this tragically sick world we live in.