Wednesday, December 31, 2014

Liron Amram & The Panthers-The Dawn

"Israel 2014/15 is a place where beliefs, religions and opposing views create an uneasy environment, and a tense creative space. But is it possible to take all of these components and use them as raw material for a new cultural statement?

Fortunately, there are those who can: As a negative to what is happening around us, the music of Liron Amram & the Panters can ignite the lost imagination even if only for a few minutes, to resonate a more beautiful and relaxed reality".

Taken from their facebook page, this passage captures the beauty and magic of Liron Amram & The Panthers. Much more than just really good music to dance to, their music can be seen as part of a refreshing Mizrahi revolution. In "Safart" Amram intoduces us to a song that his father, the great Yemenite singer Aharon Amram, wrote and adding his own twist he gives it the style and sound of 2015.

Happy New Year!
Oh, props to Michael Moshonov for directing such a cult-worthy video.

Dawn has already risen and I did not sleep at all
The memory of love is aging like wine
Wherever I go and wherever I look
It again returns to me and ignites my pains

And what if I'll see you again in the streets of the city
Will I kiss you or run will I touch you or turn pale

Only you I knew
And there is nowhere to return
And how you touched me then
It's difficult not to remember

Dawn has already risen and I did not sleep at all
The memory of love has sunk in a glass of wine
Wherever I go and wherever I look
The stars do not tell the future

And slowly I realized
You were never
What I was so looking for
And I will always ask

And what if I'll see you again in the streets of the city
Will I kiss you or run will I touch you or turn pale

Only you I knew
And there is nowhere to return
And how you touched me then
It's difficult not to remember

Wednesday, December 24, 2014

Aya Zahavi Feiglin-Hadera

Wow. This single sounds like what it is-a first single from Aya Zahavi Feiglin, lead singer of "I Got the Hotties" (sadly disbanded) but it's so much more than that. I can really sense I'm with her on the coastal highway, probably stuck in traffic, and I can really feel her mix of emotions ranging from boredom to frustration to wistfulness. I'm glad she took her time-it was worth the wait.

I have a real relationship
With the empty seat on the right side of the car
I have a relationship
Sometimes I rest my hand on him
If I close my eyes maybe he'll caress me too
If I'll close my eyes strong enough

You can't close your eyes
In the middle of the road

Hadera Tel Aviv Hertzeliya Hadera Tel Aviv Hertzeliya
Always the same roads
Always the same relationship

Dad tried to teach me quantum theory
I didn't understand much but I understood
That I have a chance to grow wings from my back and fly
I have the same chance
To die right here and now
In the middle of the coastal highway

You can't close your eyes
In the middle of the road

Hadera Tel Aviv Hertzeliya Hadera Tel Aviv Hertzeliya
Always the same roads
Always the same relationship

Wednesday, December 17, 2014

Kama Vardi-Summers in my Hometown

What a lovely song by the very talented Kama Vardi. So thoughtful and vulnerable. I love this stripped-down version but I'm curious to hear how it would sound in an album and what songs would follow and precede it. If you are too, feel free to head over to headstart and help out.

I am standing by your gate
My one true love
I'd like to know your heaven but I'd rather steal your hell
Am I too late, my one true love?
See-I've been sending ravens since I really can not tell

Now my garden's growing drier than the winters in your hometown
You call it love, but we both know what we know
You're reaching higher and my wings can only fly down
See-I do love you
But I can't come where you're going

Now I'm standing 'neath your window
My one true love
And I won't stop serenading 'till these shadows are all broken
And each and every raven will turn into a dove
No, I wouldn't close my eyes
Till the dawn and you are woke and I can see

My god I think it's drier at the bottom of the ocean
I know your thunder, but that rain sure's a surprise
No, I don't fear your love
But I won't take that potion
It feels like heaven but it sure isn't my life

And I think I know the way
My one true love
But I wouldn't go out roaming till these lovers are outspoken
To seek a treasure that I could never have
I pray and pray I wouldn't but we both know that I sure can
Till I see

My heart is growing lighter than the summers in my hometown
You call it love but we both know that we know
You're reaching higher but my wings can only fly down
See-I do love you but I can't come where you're going

Wednesday, December 10, 2014

Hadmaot-A Hunting Song

A few weeks ago I was browsing through music on Soundcloud when this lively piece by Hadmaot (the tears) came up. I was hooked and listened to "Gold Album" in its entirety. I can't say this about many albums but this album really changed the atmosphere of the room, mainly thanks to Afik Peleg's warm voice and warmer lyrics, not to mention the perfect combination of instruments such as the mandolin, accordion, contrabass, and drums. I want to go to a place where these guys perform all the time and later just hang out with them, discussing life over a glass (or two) of whisky.

A song that will hunt the attention and the stomach
A song meant for staring one more second in your eyes
A song that will touch you, will slide like a caressing drop,
The stomach
And the taste of blood in your lips

And perhaps
Another long minute is creeping in
A captured minute, with generous curves
Get undressed deep in my eyes

A song for temptation, the pulse is pounding in the chest and stomach
And the song is whispering between your legs
A trapped song, connected from the heart to the stomach
A dangerous song, connected from the stomach to the heart

And perhaps
Another long minute is creeping in
A seized minute. with generous curves
Get undressed deep in my eyes

And perhaps
Another long minute is creeping in
A seized minute. with generous curves
Get yourself a place in my life

Wednesday, December 3, 2014

TIGRIS -Tigris

I can't believe that we're actually going to early elections, and all because of ego. Oh well, at least there's a [slim] chance for positive change-who knows what will come out of this chaos. This colorful video was filmed last July and really captures a typical summer day in Tel Aviv. You get the feeling of wandering through the city not really knowing what you'll encounter, with this wonderful band on your headphones drowning out everything else.

Wednesday, November 26, 2014

The Joni Mitchell Project-Woodstock

This is such a beautiful interpretation of Joni Mitchell's "Woodstock", sung by Noa Briro and Tamar Capsouto with Lior Secker and Ori Beanstock on guitars. There's something quite magical in the air.

I came upon a child of God
He was walking along the road
And I asked him, where are you going
And this he told me
I'm going on down to Yasgur's farm
I'm going to join in a rock n' roll band
I'm going to camp out on the land
I'm going to try an' get my soul free
We are stardust
We are golden
And we've got to get ourselves
Back to the garden

Then can I walk beside you
I have come here to lose the smog
And I feel to be a cog in something turning
Well maybe it's just the time of year
Or maybe it's the time of man
I don't know who I am
But you know life is for learning
We are stardust
We are golden
And we've got to get ourselves
Back to the garden

By the time we got to Woodstock
We were half a million strong
And everywhere there was song and celebration
And I dreamed I saw the bombers
Riding shotgun in the sky
And they were turning into butterflies
Above our nation
We are stardust
Billion year old carbon
We are golden
Caught in the devil's bargain
And we've got to get ourselves
Back to the garden

Wednesday, November 19, 2014

Photomat-Big Eyes

So lush. I love everything about this song/video/band.

You close the door behind you
Lock twice
So they won't hear the shouts
I'm already drunk and not from wine
Only from your eyes
Big eyes

"Just plain brown" you say
"Everyone has them
They have exactly like them
 I wish I were special,
Do you think I'm special?"
She takes another sip

You show your teeth
Before I run away
You bite lips
And not yours

You say my name
Letter by letter
I already gave you half
But you
You have big eyes

And your voice sceams
My blood is boiling
At a dim pace
I ran my head on your forehead
To check if something is beating in you
And I felt nothing

Just the smell beneath the nails remains
And teeth marks
This will leave scars
I woke up with a hangover and not from wine
Only from your eyes
Big eyes

You show your teeth...

Wednesday, November 12, 2014

Marsh Dondurma-The End of the Day Shower

No matter how blah the day was, you can always count on the comforting end of the day shower to serve as a necessary pause and reset in the midst of everything going on. I remember when Marsh Dondurma was a street band in Jerusalem so excited about each new gig-now they're celebrating 10 years together as well as the release of their second album at the Barby-which on the 20th will probably be the grooviest and happiest place to be!

All the troubles are suddenly washed away
In the end of the day shower
After hours in the cold or heat
In the end of the day shower

You're allowed to sing
And everything echoes from wall to wall
There's time to breathe
In the end of the day shower

The whole world stops in its place
In the end of the day shower
Private rain which inspires peace
In the end of the day shower

You're allowed to sing
And everything echoes from wall to wall
There's time to breathe
In the end of the day shower

Wednesday, November 5, 2014

Shelly and Rotem- Eternal Loop Of Lies

I've been hearing the name Shelly and Rotem for quite some time now so I was very happy to discover a brand new single of theirs today. In an interview for Walla they say of it: "the song was written from the perspective of a person suffering from a chronic illness, when he is looking back at his childhood, a period in which he shed from himself responsibility and ignored the disease, living a lie whose implications he understood only when he matured. With or without a disease, we all have a tendency to tell ourselves lies that protect us from reality. 'Nothing will happen. I'm not afraid'. The song is about these little lies and the disillusionment of them".
I have a certain tendency to look (maybe too deeply) at songs in a broad social context, as opposed to psychologically, making this song eerily fitting for today.

If twelve shots a day show your courage
Then I've had none
No I don't want to hear definitions
To describe my condition
I'm fine
And I know one day I'll be blind
You've been telling me since I was nine
But in my own eternal loop of lies
Nothing bad happens
Nothing bad happens

And I am not afraid
So naive was I to say
I am not afraid
And I'll never rush again

Not caring and not noticing, nothing is going to change
What have I got to lose anyway
And I know one day I'll be blind
You've been telling me and I didn't mind
Cause in my own eternal loop of lies
Nothing bad happens
Nothing bad happens

And I am not afraid
So naive was I to say
I am not afraid

Wednesday, October 29, 2014

Garden City Movement - Lir


"I look around me. The kids are good-looking all right, as sexy as ever. Lustful and provocative. But there is a war up north tonight. Young soldiers are struggling in the bush at this very moment, stifling the fear in their hearts, smelling death close by. And the distance between what the soldiers are enduring in Lebanon and what the clubbers of Tel Aviv are doing in the black-walled cellar is incomprehensible. They are nearly the same age, same background, same education. But they are worlds apart. Planets apart. They are playing out Israel's schizophrenia.

All of Israel's wars had this sort of tension. In 1948, while citizens were being shot on the road to Jerusalem, others were flirting in Tel Aviv cafes. In 1969, while soldiers were taking fire in Suez Canal outposts, other Israelis were having a ball in Tel Aviv's discotheques. This duality was part of Israel's health and strength. It was as if there was a covenant between us: today I will stand on guard while you party; tomorrow I'll party while you stand on guard. This way we don't turn our nation into a barracks where life is not really worth living. This way we continue to live while we defend our right to life." (Shavit, 336).

I thought about this passage from Ari Shavit's highly acclaimed book My Promised Land quite a lot during last weekend's inDnegev festival, which took place in a sandy area by Kibbutz Gvulot, about 10 km from Gaza Strip. My friends and I laughed when we took a wrong turn on the way from Tel Aviv and accidentally reached Erez Crossing but we were silent as we passed by Yad Mordechai, Re'im and Ein Habesor, places that we were well acquainted with from news reports during the operation/war though they felt vaguely distant, as if from many years ago. Only when you really think about it the situation seems surreal-a festival with over 7,000 participants so close to Gaza and with absolutely no protected areas but for some reason it felt so natural-at its 8th year I can't imagine an October without the festival, or the festival taking place in any other location. Even more surreal was the fact that the festival served as a pastoral escape from the mounting tensions in Jerusalem. My favorite moment was Friday afternoon when I found a shaded area a bit distant from the stages but close enough to still hear what was going on. I used my bag as a pillow and fell asleep on the sand-on my left a young couple was quietly talking while on my right a few guys were sleeping heavily. I felt some weird connection with a guy who was sleeping right next to me-it was somehow very intimate and innocent at the same time, as if there was a collective appreciation of the calm with live performances as the best possible soundtrack.

Garden City Movement have been enjoying outstanding success-Stereogum described this song as "sound[ing] like waking up from a comfortable slumber only to find yourself still inside a dream state" while COS writes that Lir "keeps things cool, a breezy whirlwind of woozy vocal samples and tantalizing percussion". I can only add that it sounds like beauty.

Thursday, October 16, 2014

Quiet Men Festival - Nonequal

It's inDnegev time! created a special inDnegev 2014 playlist and this song by Quiet Men Festival caught my attention with its soft and sophisticated dream pop layers. I'm so happy I discovered them.

Thursday, October 9, 2014

Yossi Banai-Kapparot Chicken

What a fitting song to accompany the season's first rainfall, not to mention the festive holiday atmosphere which sets everything in a different light. Many say that autumn isn't really a season over here but I don't think so-it's brief but also quite magical with its unexpected days and suprisingly chilly nights. This is the last song that the great Yossi Banai recorded before he passed away in 2006 and it's one of my favorites. He was so soft and charming till the very end.

In autumn always in autumn in quiet and stillness
My memories embark on the back of a small cloud
And they float above the ground
To savor in all the landscapes of time

And as always in autumn I sadly part
From a summer whose end we now see
And among thirsty leaves I stand like a teenager
Curiously waiting for the winter to arrive

I remember a Kapparot chicken
A little bird on a roof
Angels walking on walls
White tablecloth on every holiday

In autumn always in autumn voices come back to me
Which in time have passed and are gone
And they carry with them holiday songs and prayers
And they carry with them a world that has dissapeared

But deep in my heart my soul always returns
To the market stalls and sugar candy
Distant romances residues of tradition
And fire chestnutes in the taste of cold winter...

I remember a Kapparot chicken...

In autumn always in autumn my father quietly returns
From the welcoming land of silence
And he looks at me and his soul is silent
And again he makes his way to the end of time

The heart is a blue cloud and a gusty wind blows in it
From every thirsty leaf ghosts call me
I see brothers and a loving family
And a small childhood city which is a bag of sighs

I remember a Kapparot chicken

Saturday, September 27, 2014

Huevos-Young Spirit

Yeah! A perfect song for the new year. I love this clip by Huevos, it reminds me a bit of Roy Kafri's footage of his awesome niece. I hope both girls never change. Shana Tova!

She has rhythm
There's interest
The man of spirit
Flies with them
In a world of lies
And impersonation
Every artist
Requires sponsorship

Come young spirit
Come wide eyed spirit
Fill this place
Come young spirit
Come wide eyed spirit
Redeem this place

She has a message
She has a statement
I am here so that
There will be a choice
Because in a world of money
And compromise
To bring the spirit
Is not simple

Come young spirit
Come wide eyed spirit
Fill this place
Come young spirit
Come wide eyed spirit
Redeem this place

Saturday, September 20, 2014

Nechi Nech - i-Dishe Rasta Man

I always thought it would be an interesting idea to photograph a "Humans of New York" style portfolio of different cities in Israel. My first thought was Ramat Gan, with its mix of immigrants from different corners of the world and the country who have quickly established their roots. Something about the place feels more permanent and authentic than Tel Aviv which for many is just a stop (however enjoyable) along the way. But then I saw this clip and realized that this is the true Israel that's often overlooked. The clip was filmed in the "Tkuma" neighborhood of Petach Tikva but there are so many similar neighborhoods throughout the country, usually on the peripheries of cities, usually serving as home to waves of immigrants. This clip doesn't have the inspirational quotes of HONY but it does give a glimpse of life in "the neighborhood" and the expressions on everyone's faces are so powerful and revealing.
Besides, it's a great song which is getting justified radio air play. It was written by Nechi Nech and Ehud Banai, and it's inspired by one of Banai's earliest songs of the same name. Nechi Nech is a true rising star-he's been around for a while but I first came across his name with the radio hit "Coffee and Cigarettes", one of the more powerful and honest songs I've heard in quite a while. Check out his recent album over on bandcamp.

I'm i-Dishe-Rasta Man and I have no fear
Everybody sing along with me
I'm i-Dishe-Rasta Man and I have no fear
Everybody sing along with me

i-Dishe-Rasta Man fights every day to breathe
Gives Thanks to God when he rises and when he goes to bed
Supports the family, takes care of his friends
Who make sure to raise the volume of the speakers
i-Dishe Rasta Man a true Israeli
Doesn't deal with bullshit, and speaks only the truth
So who, raise one hand up with me
Ichi Ban is number one so yalla!

I'm i-Dishe-Rasta Man...

I have no fear to dare to fulfill my dreams
To swim against the tide and to break conventions
I say my truth, without pressing on the brakes
Straightforward, without lies or interests
Sends respect to the brothers who believed and influenced
Comes from the neighborhood so he never forgets who he is
Runs the talk between the buildings
Knows that there is one up there managing everything
Gives everyone equal treatment it's important to always remember
Regardless of religion, race, gender, ethnicity or skin color
Sees all his life everyone fighting against themselves
So he always believes in free love

Saturday, September 13, 2014

Yossi Suede-Mayim Achronim

Yossi Suede, leader of the Jerusalem folk (and cult) group "Cham Umechamem Boom" (active from 1999-2011) is back with a debut solo album and it's interesting to see how the years have influenced his music. According to this article Mayim Achronim (which I just discovered its meaning today) was born "from leaving Jerusalem and [Suede's] feelings that he no longer has a place in it. In the song there are many motives from Judaism and the Hassidic world, which are connected with the difficult reality and grayness of the city". There is definitely a sober feeling to this song, like waking up from a wild party, but there's also something very optimistic about it, maybe it's the whole mentality of "smile, everything's for the best" which tends to clash with the cynicism shared by so many people here. Just to put thing in perspective, this is the side of Jerusalem (and Israel) that's much more familiar to me (in Hebrew, but so, so funny).

Mayim Achronim I am looking for diamonds in the streets of Jerusalem
Last sunlight when you touch the summit you will say here it comes
You long my dear, come back again
Mayim Achronim I met beggars in the palaces of Jerusalem
A crooked eye I paid for a blessing they told me here it comes
You long my dear, come back again
Even if you are wearing stone
Who conquered whom who killed whom who expelled whom Jerusalem
White skin if you hear a war warn here it comes
Solar on a puddle shows the rainbow of the covenant of Genesis trickling over Jerusalem
You long my dear, come back again
Even if you are wearing stone
Decorated with a wall
Mayim Achronim I met priests in the ruins of Jerusalem
A moment of unity between dream and reality I yelled-it's coming
The lost came I was pushed to the sides in my battle over Temple Mount
You long my dear
Come disperse again to my eyes, to our eyes
You kicked out your youngest son
And you were sold to foreigners
I remembered your piety
Do not forget too
Those who remember that you are
And containing

Friday, September 5, 2014

Jane Bordeaux- Einav

Not sure if it's because of the name of this band, or this song (Einav means grape) but this feels like a refreshing glass of wine-classy but also playful. Perfect for this cozy time of the year (well, it's not really Autumn yet but soon...)

For each one there is that one who makes her restless
For each one there is that one who takes away all her energy
Let's say that mine is named Einav
Let's say that her hair has a golden hue
Let's say that it's not a slander
If I were to say that she's even kind of a bitch

Einav Einav go back to the Moshav now
I'm not jealous yes that's not the case
This city is too small for the both of us
Einav Einav go back to the Moshav now
I'm not jealous yes that's not the case
This city is too small for the both of us

Let's say that Einav is talented and also very pretty
Let's say that the bitch is tan even in Winter
She's like a bruise on the toe from the foot of a chair
Like gravel in the sole that never comes out
We need to throw to the sea
All the "Einavs" in this world
And then for sure everyone's mood will improve

Einav Einav go back to the Moshav now...

Friday, August 29, 2014

Sharon Gesthalter - Gone

Sometimes I linger in the longing for you
Sometimes I wonder if it ever was true
The scent of your cheek on a stranger's face
Sends me away to a desperate place

And then I am gone

I think of the days spent waiting for you
And all of the nights in search of a clue
The truth of it all rings loud and clear
Your voice echoes in me
You're not here

And then I am gone


Friday, August 22, 2014

Avodot Afar-Zero Period

What a sweet unexpected surprise. I'm familiar with Avodot Afar (translated into roadworks) from their previous life as an edgy indie-electro duo. I love their old material but this is so much more soulful. It took me straight back to middle school when waking up for zero period on winter days was the most difficult thing to do but because I shared the class with a crush I made sure to come in every single week, even though we barely spoke a word.

Zero period in the winter,
Everything above it is revealed.
I insert a cassette in the Walkman, and sing
Getting on the bus.
My heart is full,
Your heart is ice.
My heart is full,
With your heart.

Looking at everyone getting on,
Don't sit near me
In a safe distance from explosion,
Maybe it's too late.
My heart is full,
Your heart is ice.
My heart is full,
With your heart.

Do you want me to call you from afar?
I'll call you from afar.

I know that I'm ugly
Especially when I smile,
So get out of my head,
I have no room for you.
My heart is full,
Your heart is ice.
My heart is full,
With your heart.

All day transmitting invisible signals,
How are they invisible?
What do you want me to tell you
Straight to your face?
But my heart is full,
Your heart is ice.
My heart is full,
With your heart.

Do you want me to call you from afar?
I'll call you from afar

Friday, August 15, 2014

LION TREE - Sunlight

Over the last week it felt like a dark cloud was lifted from the sky and the city magically transformed back into how it should be in August: packed cafes and beaches, traffic everywhere, no parking and lots and lots of French tourists. What was once annoying is now so very welcoming. I've lost track of when this cease-fire is supposed to end, right now we have the quiet present which just so happens to be in the Summer and for now it's enough.

"We believe our songs are a true merge between our love for pop music and a sense for undeniable honesty that we can't ever ever ever ever give up on...not for any price...."
Netta and Arie, lead singers of LION TREE. Check them out!

Every night,
Coming to see the light.
Washing off and ignite,
All that is out of sight.

Throwing out,
All that is black and white.
All that is wrong or right,
Every night.

But I can't fall asleep and now I'm in too deep
And it's...

Sunlight 'till the Moonlight...

Every day,
Calling me out to play
For a moment it's all ok,
For a moment it's here to stay.

Throw away,
All that is painted gray.
All that is by the way,
Every day.

And it's Sunlight 'till the Moonlight...

Friday, August 8, 2014

Ryskinder - Luxury

Just to wash the body from all the filth
Brushing your teeth is already a luxury
Soon a war might break out here
If you fell asleep on guard it's not so bad

Here is a man
Hasn't slept for a month
All of his thoughts are gone
Cannot find the connection to the electric company
He's not in a good mood at all

Just to wash the body from all the filth
Brushing your teeth is already a luxury
Soon a war might break out here
If they wear you out
It's not so bad
Here's a man
Hasn't slept for a month
All of his thoughts are gone
Doesn't find the connection to the electric company
He's not in a good mood at all
Just to wash the body from all the filth

Blah. It's exactly one month since the beginning of 'Protective Edge' and I really wanted this post to be some kind of summary. With more than 20 rockets firing since the end of the cease-fire two hours ago it doesn't look like it's going to be that way. At least we took advantage of the break, which we were all hoping to continue-the streets and malls were packed, I started taking long walks through the park again and there was a sense of urgency to make up for the lost summer. But whenever I heard an ambulance siren my ears automatically perked up and if there were several continuous sirens I couldn't help but check to see if something happened. I also caught up on new music releases I had overlooked, like this one by Jerusalem native Ryskinder. I haven't decided yet if he's a genius or a gimmick but I love his music and especially this song. I feel that I really, really needed this and it's good to have him around. He's just about to release his new album (in the meantime you can catch up on bandcamp) and here is the slightly surreal video for the title track "Something Else Happened":

A stranger is talking to you there is nowhere to run
Something else happened in the Shapira neighborhood
Somebody else won and it's all just a joke
A long arm stole your brain
Someone else drew the Mona Lisa
Something is eating you and it's all just a joke

Pa pa da pa da pa...

A stranger is talking to you there is nowhere to run
Something else happened in the Shapira neighborhood
Somebody else won and it's all just a joke
A long arm stole your brain
Someone else drew the Mona Lisa
Something is eating you and it's all your fault

Friday, August 1, 2014

Liat and Yogev - Eleanor Rigby

One of the most jarring experiences of this war is listening on the radio to a song, whether it be classical or 'In the Summertime', and then being interrupted by the radio broadcaster announcing twice that there is a siren in Ashdod/Rishon LeTzion/Rehovot/etc... On some songs it would happen multiple times. Coming across this song in the middle of my overly dramatic facebook news feed felt like the exact opposite. A healthy contra to everything going on right now. Again there's a ceasefire and again there are sirens in the South. Last Saturday at the end of the 12 hour ceasefire the news reporter announced that the citizens were prepared for a heavy night-"to make up for the rockets that weren't launched throughout the day of quiet" and he was right (reports from Saturday and Sunday).
Liat and Yogev are very talented musicians (with wonderful chemistry!) who can play practically any music genre but they really shine when playing country with the band "The Riders". Each one of their videos is enjoyable but my favorite has to be this one with the talented accordionist Uzi Rozenblat:

Eleanor Rigby-The Beatles

Ah look at all the lonely people
Ah look at all the lonely people

Eleanor Rigby, picks up the rice
In the church where a wedding has been
Lives in a dream
Waits at the window, wearing the face
That she keeps in a jar by the door
Who is it for

All the lonely people
Where do they all come from?
All the lonely people
Where do they all belong?

Father McKenzie, writing the words
Of a sermon that no one will hear
No one comes near
Look at him working, darning his socks
In the night when there's nobody there
What does he care

All the lonely people
Where do they all come from?
All the lonely people
Where do they all belong?

Ah look at all the lonely people
Ah look at all the lonely people

Eleanor Rigby, died in the church
And was buried along with her name
Nobody came
Father McKenzie, wiping the dirt
From his hands as he walks from the grave
No one was saved

All the lonely people
Where do they all come from?
All the lonely people
Where do they all belong?

Friday, July 25, 2014

Shlomo Artzi - July August Heat

The July-August heat then was very heavy
It was afternoon and the platoon went in the wadi
Write in the book a page, they speak of battles
Write of the wounded that are trembling, and this is normal

Youth is pleasant, the summer neverending
Va'aknin arrived to the platoon, the champion of Kiryat Gat
He burned down the barracks and ran off to Beit Gobrin
The police in pursuit of him only here relaxed a bit

All that I remember from this I write down
Floating souls in stretchers, two without a name
Lately thoughts return to me from there in my dim memory
A heavy screen of battles and hallucinations

July-August heat, when a pinecone falls
A helicopter lands, I lie alone in the field
When the helicopter leaves I suddenly feel hungry
Dying to eat you in the mother base

I return with a pass to you at your home
Close the room, even god won't enter here
Suddenly your father enters, looks like he's crying
In the canal a whole platoon was hit by anti-ship
fire in "tempo" [an outpost on the Suez Canal]

What I remember from this I write down
Catch a Haifa taxi, jump to the discotheque
Prostitutes on the fence, in me just a ghost burns
I go dancing with dead soldiers in my heart

Write it down, write it down; I write, I write...

(translation from the NMC Youtube page)

This might be a bit harsh but I think that the best thing that came out of Yair Lapid's political career is Shlomo Artzi's weekly column in Yediot Ahronot. When Lapid (finally) announced he was entering politics we all wondered about the weekly column-it was such a staple and so hard to imagine Friday afternoons without them-I wouldn't always agree with Lapid, and many times it was easy to laugh at his pretentious way of writing, but he did manage to eloquently express ideas which seemed to relate to all of us. People would cut out his columns and paste them to the refrigerator. I'm wondering how Lapid would address the current situation-probably invoke encouragement and say something about solidarity but it would be very calculated and thought through, something that had gone through revisions I guess. But Shlomo Artzi has a different way of writing. Like in his songs, he says what comes to his mind and you can tell that he's writing from the heart-as if to a close friend but well aware that he is addressing the whole nation. I love the idea of storing notes spontaneously written during day to day life, and then deleting them in order to start a fresh page. I'm happy that Artzi decided to share them with us-each one of them is a pearl and together they paint a pretty accurate picture of the atmosphere of these days-which is intense, and heavy, and at times bleak but it's also when you notice the small things that matter the most-like the Be'er Sheva students who live near Soroka and offered their empty apartments to relatives of the wounded soldiers staying at the hospital, or the field hospital the army set up in Gaza, for the Palestinians. These are little things that don't make it to the headlines but are worth knowing, especially when trying to get a clearer picture of life here these days, at least on our side.
There's really no need to introduce Shlomo Artzi but I don't think enough people are familiar with "July-August Heat", Artzi's double album from 1988. Some of the songs are huge hits, like "A New Country" and "Underneath Mediterranean Skies" but many are much more personal and in a way very exposing. They're not as easy on the ears and the main element is the lyrics but they convey a strong story and after listening to the album in full I felt that I really knew Artzi, or at least how he was in 1988. It's interesting to compare that with the columns he writes today-he's a bit less spirited but just as sensitive, and still very authentic. Here is the column he published today:

War Notes

Write it down, write it down/
Occasionally, while I'm sitting or standing, I write to myself letters in my iPhone, on what's happening to me at the moment, or something someone whispers privately to me in my ear, or on the T.V which talks non-stop.
But unlike all the whatsapps, I don't send the notes to anyone, but rather keep them to myself, until one day, in one second, I delete them and that's it.
So here is a random collection from what I wrote, but I haven't deleted in the last ten days, until this Tuesday.

A lone soldier from Texas/
The whole week the soul hurt. But despite the fact that we are discovering each minute more and more just how much this region is infected with Hamas, you can hear also some heartwarming things.
For example, a woman from one of the Kibutzim said after the prevented terrorist attack, "When I get up, I still see first of all the sun".
Tonight (Monday) a mass funeral was held in Haifa for Sean Carmely, may he rest in peace, of the Golany Brigade, a lone soldier from Texas, a loyal Maccabi Haifa fan, who fell in Saja'iya, and the crowds came to escort him like coming to escort a righteous Rabbi.
So before I go to bed, I listen attentively in my headphones to Mark Knofler singing "Brothers in Arms", and feel that we are again a nation.

Reading from Primo Levi, the Jewish-Italian writer, the following sentence, taken from "If This Is a Man": "A person who sees will never understand what is blindness from birth. A person who has never known hunger in his life, will never understand what is hunger".
In other words: A satisfied person, who lives today (let's say in Paris) and hasn't experienced lately shelling on the Champs Elysees block or dealt with tunnels coming out in front of his house in Provence, will never understand our life here.
So he should continue to watch the Tour de France and shut up.

Summer Tunnels/
Do you remember how once we would dig tunnels in the summer on the beach?
We would use at first the blue plastic shovel, and continue to dig with our hands (one on one side and the other on the opposite), until our hands would meet and clasp each other with warmth and friendship.

Saliva in the Mouth/
Again the saliva swallows hard in the mouth when I get a text from friends: "Something bad happened, probably casualties and wounded, lots of rumors, maybe you can find out?"
I begin to find out...and later I recall the french sentence 'a la guerre come a la guerre' ("at war as at war").

Shelter Under the Moon/
How complex is the human identity of each one of us. "Who here is who's relative", Chalfi once asked, and what did he mean?
I began to develop a superstition in which I keep in the freezer lemon popsicles, for sons of friends and family when they safely get back home from the war.
So in the evening, when I went out to get them from the shop, the siren caught me exposed in the street and I had no choice but to find shelter under the moon.

Hasamba in Gaza/
In the series of "Hasamba" books there was once a book called "Hasamba in street fights in Gaza". The hero of the story was according to my memory a boy named Sobchi. Hasamba went out to Gaza city to actually search Egyptian forces in the area.
Though I don't remember the details, even then Gaza seemed to me to be a horrid place.

A Sad Morning Night/
I turn on the T.V at 6 in the morning, and the heart burns with worry.
And later comes the squirming moment when we met for the first time our killed sons, children and brothers in pictures, and they receive faces and names (7 in the morning).
"At first we cry/then the tears harden,/Later we remember just one thing/the death of the son.../and we are silent./And we get up from the chair. And we sit. And we get up. And again./And we know just one thing:/He will not return" (Avraham Chalfi).

"My Dear Love"/
A women eulogizes her husband during a heartbreaking funeral at six in the evening.

Humanitarian Cease-Fire/
Every Israeli patriot accepts most of what's going on here with understanding, understands that we need to continue with the tasks of our lives, doesn't go on vacation abroad during these days, goes to the shelter when there are sirens, waits between five to eight to ten minutes. Sometimes is caught silent and contemplative.
I already get used to staring into the what is and what isn't on the television, and on commercials I clean fallen leaves in the yard.
This week, when I rode my bike in the open park, I suddenly recalled an old sketch, in which Sonia Gorivich, portrayed by Shaika Ofir says: "I hear shuts-(shots) and I abtematically (automatically) lie down".
This sums up for me all of the home front command instructions in an open area.

The Debt/
When Churchill finished to lead his people to victory over Hitler he said to his British people: "Never was so much owed by so many to so few". How fitting also for us.
I noticed a weird notice in the Sport section: "Hamas is on his way to Real". At first I was even happy. Then I realised that it's the deal with footballer Hamas Rodriguez moving to Real Madrid.
I open the radio and hear Uzi Fux ask again after many years: "Send me underwear and undershirts" Tell me, is this real?
And when someone on T.V says "We knew about the tunnels", someone in the living room whispers: Oy, wow, you really knew?

"In August, on a pleasant afternoon,/We went to the sea,/To rest, to watch the waves, to stare/and to swim" (From "Happiness" by Eitan Nahmias-Glass)

In their words/
1. One day afterwards we will talk about everything. In the meantime we will wait for it to be over, for our own good. (A father to his son asking what's happening)
2. There is no doubt that this is the most justified war we had since the Independence War, the Six Day War, Yom Cippur, the Gulf, "Pillar of Defense", "Defensive Shield" and more. (A reserve major, on T.V)
3. Remember how everything began from a summer that seemed especially happy, because a lot of bands from abroad were about to arrive to the country. (A music fan who still hasn't comprehended the situation).
4. "During the most difficult moments I treat myself right away with shopping" (Someone who bought perfume during a siren in the mall)
5. "Tired from wars and from dreams Don Quixote returned home" (The author Binyamin Galai)
6. "We're like tanks and APCs, passing each other on paths and disappearing into the green, reflected in the fighters' night binoculars" (A war poet).
7. We are worried and love our soldiers, so write an encouraging column. (Someone asks me at the grocery store).
8. So here, I'm trying to encourage: Shabbat Shalom, dear nation and its soldiers, despair is not an option.

Friday, July 18, 2014

Abraham Salman-Taksim Bayat Mawzoun

 Amidst all the headlines I almost missed the news item earlier this week regarding Abraham Salman's death at the age of 83. I had no idea who he was and after listening to a few of his songs I was heartbroken not only because such a talented musician passed away but also because it's a shame that he hasn't gained wider recognition, especially among the younger generations. Born in Baghdad, Salman lost his sight at the age of two due to Trachoma. He began to study music at the age of 5 and at the age of 11 he was charmed by the magic of the qanun instrument. His rare talent was discovered when he joined the Royal Iraqi Radio Orchestra. His music gained respect and high acclaim throughout the Arab world, and he accompanied top Arab singers. In 1950 he immigrated to Israel and became a leading member of the Israel Radio Arabic Orchestra, which was composed of immigrants from Iraq and Egypt, until 1988.
    The Israel Radio Arabic Orchestra played music as part of Kol Israel in Arabic broadcasts, intended for the Arab world and Arabs living in Israel. In an interview between author Eli Amir and Menashe Somech, a veteran broadcaster of the station, Somech recalls how the station made sure to present Israel in a positive light, at a time when Arab countries were calling it an "imagined country". The station emphasized the Jewish people's historical right for a country, which was supported by the international community. They also emphasized that Israel wants peace with its neighbors and essentially refuted the lies and false accusations towards the country made by Arab leaders. Somech notes that the Arab listener heard a very high level of Arabic and this was deeply appreciated. In addition, he never heard words that hurt his religious feelings. He was surprised to hear the enemy speaking to him with respect, without insulting or degrading him-even when there were discussions on sensitive and provocative issues. Unfortunately, the station's nature took a swift turn in 1993. The hasbara department closed, under the CEO's claim that due to the signing of the Oslo peace accords, there will be no more need for hasbara. In the same year the Orchestra disbanded, following the retirement of its musical manager Zuzu Musa. Somech explains that the developments that followed the disappearance of the hasbara department and the station's new nature were serious faults which basically abandoned the Arab public, leaving it exposed to malicious propaganda by opponents of peace and those who deny Israel's existence.
It's quite tragic when you think about it. The hasbara department was closed down because people were so certain that there would be actual peace. Instead the peace process collapsed and made way for extremism  influencing the moderate listener who just wanted to hear quality radio. In the last 10 days I felt that my news feed was in a constant state of shouting-many were shouting their own opinion and had trouble listening to what others were saying. But I also witnessed many, many intelligent debates between friends of friends who come from different countries, have different political views and also different values but share a thirst for real communication and are interested not only in sharing what they have to say but also listening with an open mind to others. I really hope that now that we have entered a new (and in my opinion inevitable) stage of this operation this tolerance will continue and will not be washed away by extremism.

To end things in a light note, here's the mythological Kaveret performing "The Left-Handed Octopus" with Abraham Salman and the Israeli Radio Arab Orchestra, a song that appears in "Pugi in Pita", the band's second album.

Friday, July 11, 2014

Rockfour-Unquiet Again

On the way to reason
Fleeing to a secure place
I would change everything
If it was possible to know
Time passes, a year went by

On the way to reason
This isn't at all a romantic song
Going towards a right direction
Another never-ending story
Time passes, a year went by

Unquiet again
Doo doo doo doo doo
Doo doo doo doo doo
Unquiet again
Doo doo doo doo doo
Doo doo doo doo doo
Doo doo doo doo doo
Doo doo doo doo doo, ahh

On the way to reason
I hinder with no way out
On the way to a right ending
It's the text that's never-ending
That's never over

Unquiet again

 "Here we go again" a friend wrote when the first sirens were heard in Beer Sheva. It's the first big operation since I moved away and it's been surreal following the news from afar-I felt as if I could just as well be living in the States because everything was so normal while my friends were again under fire. But on Tuesday that changed when Tel Aviv and its neighboring cities (and later more distant destinations like Hedera and Binyamina) joined the range. It was all very expected but still very startling. I was at home in Ramat Gan (10 minutes out of Tel Aviv) and joined my neighbors at the stairway. It was actually pretty amusing-while the siren was blaring they argued on whether it's safe enough to be on the 3rd floor or if we should go even lower, in what direction Gaza is, and whether it might be better to wait for the boom in the hallway. A few of them recalled with laughter how they would sleep in the hallway during the Gulf War (Ramat Gan was severely hit). It all would have been very comical if I wasn't trying to comfort my 10 year old neighbor who was the only one at her home (the siren woke her up from a nap). But when the second siren came a few hours later she seemed okay as she was joking with her mom and brothers. Seemed. It's weird how easy you get used to the situation. So far, the sirens have always caught me at home or at work, usually in the morning when they know it's rush hour and before summer camps begin-today wasn't a work day so the siren came a bit later, when most were out during their errands. We hear the sirens, walk to the shelter and afterwards continue with our day. (Here's a cute video on the Tel-Avivian home front, from last time but still relevant). But that's because we have a luxurious minute and a half and we only hear the sirens a few times a day. In the south it's pretty unbearable with non-stop rockets and only 15-30 seconds. Even so, most are used to it (the gaps between operation to operation are only shortening) and if a few intense days (or even weeks) are necessary for a calm period so be it. The question remains when will things heat up again.
    I would always have this song stuck in my head after a bombing or incident, and then I would feel a bit weird about it because if you don't really pay attention to the lyrics it sounds like such a happy song-not the type you're supposed to hum on difficult days. It makes me think of the sunny late 60s-early 70s songs which were written in  dark times, and also of the dissonance that would sometimes appear between the music and lyrics-I'm thinking of Chirpy,Chirpy,Cheep,Cheep and Sunny Afternoon but I'm sure there are more examples. Along with this song Rockfour had another big single from their debut album "Butterfly Net"-a song called "The Anger" which sounds very restrained, and tense. They have a very impressive discography including quite a few accessible albums in English but their most experiential has to be their second album, the highly acclaimed "The Man Who Saw it All"-the only album I could really listen to this week. Every track on it is gold but one that particularly stands out is "Hole in the Moon":

Cannot forget, the moment when I wanted to,
Already gather everything, and I didn't have the strength
To continue and go through all that, which has no intention

Give me a milestone, and I'll know how to continue,
There remains a pain deep inside, I just wanted to go
Like being a ripped photo
Hole in the moon

In pale light, in the trap of the hour
An angel comes, see what he has in his hand,
What separates between good and evil,
It's my brother

Abusing with words, sometimes unintentionally, I remain
The last on a sinking ship

Like in a fantasy I return to the point
In which I began then to walk hoping not to crawl
Within all this it seems, I'm getting closer
Standing on the edge.

Friday, July 4, 2014

Meir Ariel-Justice, Justice You Shall Pursue

Monday feels like weeks ago. It was a pretty normal day-I met up with a friend at the flea market in Yaffo-on my way to the bus I caught a glimpse of the World Cup match screening at one of the bars and I also saw by a kiosk that someone had posted the newspaper from the day after Gil-ad, Neftali and Eyal were kidnapped. The newspaper was already yellow and I wondered why it was there-to raise awareness among tourists? Maybe to keep it in the minds of passerby as it was starting to feel that the story was losing attention. When I got on the bus I turned on the internet in my phone and immediately received a notification from my Haaretz app: the bodies of the kidnapped boys were found. I looked around the bus to see if the other passengers knew but it was hard to tell because everyone was staring at their phones or looking outside. But I did make eye contact with an elderly orthodox man-I can't say for sure if he knew but his eyes were so hollow and sad expressing grief and disbelief. I gave a small nod to him and was saddened not only by what had happened but also that it took a tragedy to make simple eye-contact with an orthodox man. By the time I got off the bus the news had replaced the World Cup and the streets were eerily empty. But there was one guy who quickly walked past me "Did you hear about the boys?" he said on the phone, "My mom started to cry, I've never seen her cry like that...I'm so...I'm so furious!!" and the way he walked suggested that indeed every inch of his body was furious. I was amazed how he was able to muster so much negative energy when all I could feel was weakness. At home there wasn't much to do but watch the news which jumped from interviews with mourning friends of the families to debates and analyses in the news studios while the Cabinet held an emergency meeting and we were all trying to guess what they would decide. One man in the studio said in a very calm voice that Hamas must be brought down and eliminated-a small reaction will only trigger more violence. "The question is-is that possible?" a journalist asked and it's a very important question to ask, especially when taking into account the international field and the fragility of the region. Not to mention what could happen the day after...After a very heated debate the cabinet decided on a limited air strike in Gaza after the day's rocket attacks. For many the reaction wasn't strong enough and they demanded revenge. Instant revenge. I was nauseated by all the hatred on the internet and demands for the murderers to be killed quickly became hatred for Arabs in general and then for those who opposed their views. The next day I watched the funeral and was in awe of how calm everyone was. It was clear that there was no intention for these boys to become martyrs, instead the funeral was about closure, a chance for the families to say their goodbyes together with the thousands who came and really with the whole country. Unfortunately this sense of solidarity was interrupted by reports of extreme right-wing activists in Jerusalem, demanding revenge, harassing Arabs, and confronting with the police. I was sure that this was as worse at it would get but the next day I learned that a 16 year old Palestinian from Jerusalem had been kidnapped and murdered. It was unclear whether the motives were criminal or nationalistic but before the body was even taken for examination the Palestinians in East Jerusalem began to riot and Hamas intensified its rocket attacks from Gaza (more than 20 were fired only today). It's horrific to think that the motive was nationalistic and yet, taking into account the tense atmosphere, it's a grim possibility. I must mention that there have also been anti-violence demonstrations in Jerusalem and Tel Aviv mourning victims on both sides with thousands of participants from both sides of the political map.
A few years ago I clicked "like" on Meir Ariel's facebook page. I wasn't expecting much because Meir Ariel tragically died from typhus in 1999-I just wanted to share my love for his music. But the managers of the page have successfully managed to keep his legacy alive (I think he's more popular today than when he was alive) and often post his songs, especially when it seems relevant-and really any time is relevant for a Meir Ariel song. They posted this song on Wednesday and sadly, it fit the day perfectly. Words can't describe how deeply Meir is missed. He was able to create deep connections with so many different listeners, capturing with his playful use of language the complexity of life here, as well as universal problems and all in an effortless manner. You just want to hang out with him, hear what he has to say. I recently saw the famous 1987 "campaign tour" in which he travelled the country together with his bandmates Yehuda Eder, Miki Shaiv, Yoav Kutner and Rae Mociach. The documentary, available on youtube and worth seeing even if you don't understand the language, captures their performances in remote southern peripheries and in front of army troops as well as conversations on the road. One of the most memorable of them is when they talk about Judaism and he says to Kutner that he doesn't really feel at home in the secular society, the only situation in which he feels at home is 'the love of people', the company of people, talking with them on some kind of basis of equality while forgetting as much as possible that such a problem exists" (min. 42).  I think that this song can be understood on its own but there are a lot of nuances which could use a bit of explanation so I translated parts of Tal Belo's analysis (along with other interpretations) which relies on religious context-a world that is quite foreign to me.

Pursuer of justice Jimmy and Dean pursuer of peace(1)
Meet at the red pit
Peace and justice are hiding in the darkness
Lying silently in a puddle(2)
A puddle of intoxication in the darkness of blood
Or a dark intoxication in a puddle of blood(3)
Pursuer of justice Jimmy plays the harmonica
And Dean pursuer of peace taps on a can
And each sings his own song

Justice justice you shall pursue
Ask for peace and pursue it
Ask for peace and pursue it
Justice justice you shall pursue(4)

Dean peace throws to Jimmy justice
"Are you aware that justice sounds like trigger?"(5)
Jimmy justice spits to Dean peace
"Just as peace sounds like dream"(6)
Dean whistles to Jimmy "for you justice is a trunk
Which has a licence to rummage in my closet"(7)
Jimmy creaks to Dean: "for you peace is three
Blind, deaf, dumb and Shulman will pay"(8)
And again each sings his own song

Justice, justice you shall pursue...

And here they rise pursuer versus pursuer
Chuckle lightly and evaporate
In a dark poodle in a red pit(9)
No wonder justice escapes no wonder peace escapes(10)

And God will ask the pursued
Will not accept with, will not justify the
Drifter to the innocent(11)

How much longer? It's difficult to answer...
Those who despair go to Tel Aviv
She will give him delusion services on the spot
Like water in Neve Tzedek. shade from the Shalom Tower
This Shalom Tower on the junction of Hertzl and Ahad Ha'am(12)
(Who by the way were opponents in their time)

But the chuckle of Marlon Brando
In the face of Martin Sheen's rifle(13)
Remains like a record of greatness
For Jimmy and Dean
Who still each sings his own song...

Justice justice you shall pursue...

(1)-Possible reference to 'Din Rodef'-law of the pursuer
(2) Meir understands the complexity of making justice. A man who feels over-righteousness, peace will not be in his house.
(3) A person addicted to justice, like an alcoholist, will meet puddles of blood.
(4) "Justice justice you shall pursue" is found in parashat Shoftim and "Ask for peace and pursue it" is found in Tehilim 34. There is tension between the two, should you be just? should you be smart? Should you give up for peace or fight for justice?
(5) Peace challenges justice by hinting a light hand on the trigger.
(6) Justice challenges peace by hinting the loss of substance in peace as if it can only happen in a dream.
(7) Everyone has skeletons in their closet which can be rummaged. Is that the meaning of justice-rummaging?
(8) A legend from Haifa tells of a delinquent, a giant named Shulman. He is called by all "Shulman will pay" for he is a friendless giant, who would enter restaurants and order half of the diners to taste, on his bill, delicacies, in an attempt for them to like him. When waiters would ask to whom to serve the bill he would answer: "Shulman will pay". But Shulman never paid when the bill came, he would hit the owner with such strength that the waiters would pass out. They had to call many policemen to lie him down, as he was so strong.
Is it required in order for there to be peace for a man to be without senses? Blind, deaf, dumb?)
(9) The confrontation between peace and justice begins.
(10) In the confrontation between two values of such centrality the chance that both will be lost is high)
(11) "God asks the pursued" is found in the book of Kahelet, 3-16, and describes the relation of God to a pursued man. Private keeping which does not demand values like peace or justice. From God's view sometimes big words create big sins and God prefers to help the one who is pursued, whether he is righteous or evil.
(12) Ahad Ha'am stood at the head of Cultural Zionism (which saw the state of the Jews solely as a spiritual center) while Hertzl was the leader of Political Zionism (which tried to create a country for all the Jews of the world). In a song depicting eternal confrontations, Meir ironically notes the fact that the Shalom Tower stands at the corner of the streets named by the two opponents.
(13) Scene from Apocalypse Now

 Hoping for a quiet weekend and good luck Columbia!

Friday, June 27, 2014

LUK - Fate Of The World

I'm not a huge fan of the compliment "It doesn't sound Israeli" when discussing Israeli music in English but wow, I would have never guessed this was from here-until I took a close look at the lyrics...Strong vocals and very tight production. More, please!

I've seen the fate of the world.
It's everywhere, and it's written in blood.
Come again to get you all
What is a river? And what is a Wall?

And you make the same mistakes,
Burning it all and crashing the planes
And you make the same mistakes-
Again and again and again and again.

Can't you see the world is turning upside-down?

Take a leap into the flood,
The papers said that the victor is God.
Come again to get you all
What is a river? And what is a Wall?

And you make the same mistakes,
Dropping the bombs and digging the graves
And you make the same mistakes-
Again and again and again and again.

Can't you see the world is turning upside-down?

Friday, June 20, 2014

Louis Marshall-The Tortoise and the Hare

After such a tense week Gogol Bordello's performance last night at the Barby couldn't have come at a better time. Captain Eugine Hutz and his international crew mates swept us all away with gypsy punk galore and we were captivated, not wanting the night to end. It felt that the feeling was mutual and they played song after song long after the encore, just after Eugine casually invited us all to an after-party at a tiny Tel Avivian bar. They even sang along to Johnny Cash and Joe Strummer's cover of Redemption Song, very fittingly chosen as the 'lights on' number to signal the end of the show. What I liked best was the rare feeling of community, and the fact that unlike at the Rolling Stones, there weren't too many smartphones in sight-everyone was too busy dancing and enjoying the moment. But luckily there is this footage which captures the wild atmosphere. "This is a therapy session but not a conventional kind" (or something like that) Eugine said at one point and it really did feel therapeutic. After an anxious week this is exactly what we needed before going back to endless news coverage, military analyses and political debates. And it feels like the worst is yet to come...
If Gogol Bordello are pirates of the night, the members of Louis Marshall are pirates of the day, perfect companions to sunny summer daydreams. Louis Marshall began with a collaboration between longtime friends Dan Toren and Yuval Mendelson which developed into a super group with Yuval Shefrir (HaZvuvim, the Portis brothers and more), Roi Hadas (Kerach Tesha, Yali Sobol and more) and Ofer Koren (Algiers, Yermi Kaplan and more). Yuval Arel wrote that their sound is a continuation of the legendary band Tamouz and I completely agree. So refreshing and at the same time very comforting.

The deal got complicated
She didn't bother to tell me how
When and why she decided to leave
The principle is just awful
You need to hit a bull's eye
Before you divide the spoils

What's mine is now hers
What's hers stays hers
I admit I didn't make any plans
In the matinee
The lights are on in the meantime
Remains sitting
When the credits appear

There are many fish in the sea
But it's enough for a drop of blood
To wake up all the sharks
Summer sun in the sky
We're both drying in the heat
And if there's nothing more to say we'll say goodbye

Headphones on the ears
No holes in the shoes
And walking down the street is free
The punks are still there
There's no longer fire in the water
In that fountain by Yaacov Agam

I continue from here to Chile
Only if I won't have hernia
This story is heavy on my back
It moves away when approaching
And then derails
The parable of the tortoise and the hare

Thursday, June 12, 2014

Korin Elal-Rare Breed

It's Gay Pride Week! Tomorrow's parade will be especially family oriented-ending at the Charles Clore park and nearby beach, as opposed to the more central Gordon beach. Not everyone is happy about it but it fits with the changing atmosphere of Gay life in Israel and specifically in Tel Aviv. Although the city is still a hot magnet for teens and young people, especially those discovering their sexual identity, it has steadily become more bourgeois in recent years and if in the past it was common to spend your 20s in Tel Aviv and your 30s with your family in a more breathable town, many parents are choosing today to raise their children in Tel Aviv and of course Gays are no exception. In fact, in the past most Gays didn't really have the freedom to even raise a family but today (much to the delight of Jewish mothers) it's not such a big deal to see a kid with two moms or dads-The Tower magazine depicts this social novelty in depth and also sheds light on how family oriented we are as a society. In fact now that I think about it, those who choose not to have children are a true 'rare breed' over here and very often aren't taken seriously. This song, which was embraced by the LGBT community, could easily apply to them, just as it could easily apply to anybody who feels marginal. Korin chose to sing it at Arik Einstein's ceremony not necessarily because they were both part of an exclusive group but because, as she said in an interview, she really saw him as a unique person. This song is also a very fitting choice because Korin just got married to Ruti, her partner of 15 years with whom she has two sons. I love how Korin is so chill about it, she doesn't hide who she is and she goes to pride events when invited but being lesbian is not her entire identity and she has other things on her mind, like her music and raising her kids.
Korin is truly a national treasure with classics like 'Antarctica' and 'Days of flowers and love' but my favorite has to be the timeless 'Maayan' (spring).
Mazal Tov!

We're afraid of our own shadow,
Clinging to the walls of the houses
And most of the time ashamed of our bodies,
Digging shelters.

We flee from a crazy party,
Pushed into rowboats.
All land is a sinking ship
When digging shelters.

We are a rare breed: a strange bird.
Dreams in the air, head in the ground.

We deceive mainly ourselves
Not blind, but not looking.
And it's not clear what we will leave behind,
Besides fears.

We are a rare breed...

Thursday, June 5, 2014

Libi and the Flashback-Girl From The North Country

What a night! I was so lucky to be at the Rolling Sones concert last night in Tel Aviv-they really gave all they had and then some, and it really wasn't a given considering the heavy heatwave! Despite their royal status they gave an energetic performance from Start me up to Satisfaction and Mick, Keith, Johnny and Charlie worked the stage as if they were a young band just starting out. Notable highlights were their special performances of Israeli favorites Angie and Paint it Black, not to mention Mick's impressive Hebrew vocabulary from "Atem kahal metoraf" to "Eifo kanita et hanaalayim, be shuk?" which he remarked to Johnny Wood's bright yellow shoes. My original plan was to just hang out at the park with friends listening to the concert but a few weeks ago we came to our senses and realized that we couldn't miss out on actually seeing them and being part of the audience, even at the steep price of 700 shekels. To put things in perspective Neil Young & Crazy Horse at the same venue will be 400. And yet, it really was a historic night. Fortis gave an excellent opening show and you could tell how excited he was to be there-his song "No end to childhood", which he dedicated to a 100 year old fan in the audience was especially fitting. I was a bit concerned that the audience would be on the emm, mature side but there were many young people and the energy was great. The truth is, even though I didn't experience them in "real time" I do feel that they played a big part in the soundtrack of my teenage years. I had heard their songs all my life but hearing "Sympathy for the Devil" in this specific context when I was 16 sent me to iTunes to discover their songs record by record. I think the same goes for this Dylan track. I was very familiar with his music but after hearing this song as a teen I really got into his early material. Libi of Libi and the Flashback is such a phenomenon, it would have been so awesome if she could have been a part of the concert, but then again it feels that she's Israel's best kept secret. I saw her last year at the Jacob's Ladder Festival and she was so...electrifying. Most of the youtube videos don't really capture her amazing stage presence which is why I chose this beautiful acoustic track which shows a more sensitive side of her. But you can get a taste with this epic performance on London & Kirschenbaum who are at their most adorable here (performance starts at 2:25):

London & Kirshenbaum are one of the best things on Israeli TV and two other gems with them can be seen here and here.

It's only rock n' roll but I like it :)

Thursday, May 29, 2014

Thursday, May 22, 2014

Tal Fogel-Character Assassination

I had a good time at the Yaarot Menashe festival, probably because I wasn't expecting too much-the atmosphere was very laid back (at times maybe too laid back) and there was an interesting mix of young urbanites looking for a chance to escape the city, families looking for a weekend activity and teens looking for a bit of freedom. The festival had something for everyone but I couldn't shake the feeling that something was missing. The concerts were enjoyable but it was hard to find artists that were both new and exciting-artists like Tal Fogel. I didn't see Fogel's performance so I can't say how it was but I feel that she represents what festivals like Yaarot Menashe should be about-artists just on the tip of success who need and deserve the exposure. I think I saw her performing at Ashan Hazman's annual anti-valentine event a few years ago. I don't remember much (expected, on anti-valentines), only that I really liked her voice and her modest attitude-she joked about playing a song that was so unknown it wasn't even on youtube-which was a shame. Now she has a debut album and it's great to see her gradually gaining recognition outside of the Beer Sheva scene because with her edgy yet sensitive style it's hard to remain indifferent to her.

Where time begins to rebel
I rebel in return
Where the leg shortens
It's time to shout out loud
Out loud

A lifetime on a point in the mountain
It's the same colors, it's not seeing
Getting lost in the stream
Is drowning in still water
Just not still water

To load the shiny tools
All the way to the battle
To forget an old voice on the way
And dig the face you once loved
The face you once loved

Character assassination here it comes
This truth will hurt
My truth will hurt me
Character assassination to rise up and to destroy
This truth will break out
This truth will conquer

Thursday, May 15, 2014

JoovE - Another Candle On The Cake

I guess I should be writing something about this weekend's Yaarot Menashe festival but I'll have enough to say about it next week-and I couldn't let this pearl by the very talented JoovE slip away... I love the honest lyrics hiding under the layers not to mention the somewhat vulnerable home footage. Very nostalgic.

Casualty always strikes me down
With its unexpected games
Who will say the name first?

Simple things change their being
With every move you make
Another candle on the cake

The biggest fear remains
To pass the line and livie in chains

Maybe it's not stronger than you
But everyone participates
So where could they be?
The ones who fight for themselves
Without fighting

Thursday, May 8, 2014

Naftali Alter feat. Roni Alter-In This Place

I walked and walked
And wherever I arrived
I didn't get there
I didn't get there

And I remain in this place
With the pad and the piano and the coffee
Everyone passes here by chance
Like a short story or a monolouge in a play

And quiet in this noise
And everyone is on the edge
Waiting for something to happen
In the diminishing time
In the beauty between the pad and the coffee

And however it will be
And however it will be
It won't be

I walked and walked
And wherever I arrived
I didn't get there
I didn't get there

I can't believe that it's actually raining in May. So surreal. And yet it fits perfectly with my mood and with this song. It's been exactly a week since Assi Dayan's death and it's still hard to think of him in the past tense. It really feels like with his death a part of our culture died as well-not always a pretty part but a vital part none the less. On Saturday I watched the fascinating documentary "Life as a Rumour" in which Dayan narrates events in his life starting with his childhood in a kibbutz, his experiences growing up as Moshe Dayan's son meaning that he was practicaly royalty-a title he struggled with all his life-up to his career as a succesful actor and later as an important director, directing some of the country's most memorable films among them the cult-comedy from 1976 "Hilfon Hill Doesn't Answer" and the acclaimed drama from 1992 "Life According to Agfa". This song, written by Dayan is taken from Agfa which also includes the touching song "Daniela". To my delight I discovered the whole film on youtube (with french subtitles!) and it really is an essential film for anyone interested in the conflicts of our society along with a healthy dose of existentialism. One of the most memorable scenes is when Dalia, the owner of the bar "Barby" where the film takes place (and short for the mental institution Abarbanel) is asked by her friend why she continues to see night after night Eli, a married family man. She answers "You don't understand. These three hours are the only hours in my life. All the rest are next to life, it's not life itself. Errands, procedures, go, bring, close, open. Shit shit shit". (Thank you Assaf Levnon for sparking my interest in the film and this scene). I think that this is a very important way of thinking: how much of our life is "Life" and how much is merely next to it? The two can be easily blurred in the midst of daily life. Watching this film fell for me into the category of "Life" because it affected me quite deeply due to Assi's special way of not only seeing things as they really are but also how they could be in the future and I suddenly realized that as a society we give heavy attention to the past, and also to the present, but it's difficult to look towards the future, at least in a sober way. "Let's just focus on next week" seems to be the mentality.
Maybe I'm thinking this way because I just finished reading Dahn Ben Amotz's 1973 grounbreaking novel "Doesn't Give a Damn" which tells the story of a soldier injured and becomes paralyzed from the waist down. I don't think I was mentally prepared for the dark criticism of where things are heading and this was especially heartbreaking to read as 40 years have passed and it seems that almost nothing has changed. Here is an example:
"Yigal: We need to write something...I don't know, some kind of summary-something. I went with his father to an office that deals with publishing booklets like those. They showed him all kinds of examples. He wanted good paper. The most expensive. He wanted a big photograph on the cover, but they offered him a sketch of a chopped tree. They said that it's...symbolic. They almost said "It's what people are buying now". I wanted to throw up but the old man looked at the sketch, like that, from afar and said "Yes, it's nice". It was terrible.
Rafi: Damn it! What will be the end with all this shit?
Yigal: The sun will shine, the birds will chirp...
Rafi: And the shelves will be filled with memorial booklets. I'm telling you those whores don't want peace. They're afraid to move their butt from the chair. Shaking from fear that one night the phone will ring and it will be the end. I don't know what to do. Petitions, demonstrations-nothing helps.
Yigal: There's nothing to do. There's no point wasting life on demonstrations. It's a waste of time. I want to study..."(pp. 191-192).
Understandably, reality today isn't exactly as it was in 1973 (written before the Yom Cippur War) but without a doubt this book and especially this scene fall under the category of "Life" for me.

In "Life as a Rumour" Dayan affectionaly refers to Naftali Alter as his "partner in debts and creation". They worked together in many movies, Dayan writing the lyrics to songs and Alter composing them. In a touching interview shortly after Assi's death Naftali said that Assi was the "ultimate friend". At times he would spend more time with him than with his wife and kids and they were in the middle of so many projects before his death put an abrupt stop to everything. At first glance it seems like an odd pairing with their very different personalities but it makes a lot of sense and I can see how the two probably complemented each other in the best possible way. Alter has composed many of the country's most beautiful songs including "Yonatan, Go Home" and "The Same Old Tune". In 2011 he released his debut album and said upon its release: "I'm not a singer, period. But that doesn't mean that I can't sing. And along the years in which I compose songs for singers, there always hides deep inside, covered with many layers of insecurity, the desire to bring my performance to songs I composed. Regardless of the singers who performed them. I have my own intimate version and my way of playing the piano, and I'm not alone in this experience". Better late than never and there's something very simple and beautiful about the songs (five of them can be heard here and the album can be bought here) which are first and foremost a form of self-expression.
Naftali's daughter Roni is a succesful singer well known for her participation in the succesful musical group "Metropolin" but also as a solo singer. In 2010 she released her debut album "Air Pocket" and earlier this year she released an album in English titled "Go Wild", written in Paris. I somehow overlooked the winter release but now is a perfect chance to catch up, especially with the very fitting weather.

Sunday, April 27, 2014

Amir Lev-Train

Amir Lev has been referred to as one of the country's finest storytellers, and for good reason. When I heard this song I felt I was travelling together with Amir easily understanding his mood-at first the images reminded me of the train ride from Tel Aviv to the South but I slowly realized the journey was much further away. It's so different from the usual encounter with the dark past that most of us face when we travel to Poland in high school. There's been ongoing debate about these trips and how they shape our collective memory and ultimately our national identity. I personally had great difficulty-not just with the chilling sights of the barracks and personal items but also with the extremeness of it all-we had "heavy" and "light" days and on the long bus rides with all of the chatter and Bamba I kept forgetting that we weren't on a regular class trip. But most of all I had difficulty with the immense pressure to cry with my friends, something I have never been comfortable with. Looking back I realize how incredibly silly,and selfish, this was-instead of concentrating on the tragedy I was concerned that I wasn't reacting with enough emotion. I think if I would have gone privately with just a close friend or two I would have seen things in a much different light-I would have had more time to comprehend and also to observe the fragile connection between the past and present. Amir Lev weaves strong emotions in a very gentle way-this isn't your typical Holocaust Remembrance Day song and it probably won't be heard at school ceremonies tomorrow but its music and lyrics leave a very powerful impression as well as the realization that the Holocaust is a deeper part of our lives than we think. By the way, another song which has left a surprisingly powerful impression on me is Michael Greilsammer's impromptu mash-up of Hatikva and the Game of Thrones theme, just in time for Independence Day.

On the train from the city we held hands
Factories, car lots
Later electrical power stations
And then began the fields

And we said wow when we passed the river
Wow to a tree by a boat
We got off with another couple who were surprised
That there was no shop at the station

Through the woman and scarf
Who took out mushrooms from the soil
I had to drink before the bridge
You loved me as if I built the castle

And the village is delicate and winding
A bakery out of a fairy tale
You told me to give up the meat
It is not appropriate here to eat dead animals

Glasses from the past at a second hand shop
We waited for the seller to wrap
Between the glass and the table
She sold there a yellow star

I cursed and we were silent on the way back
The train wasn't late
I noticed that it was an old train
And windowsills of at least sixty years