Saturday, March 15, 2014

Noar Shulayim-Draw Yourself a Mustache

In a city very close
To Satan's dwelling
Grew a girl, possibly a girl
She was always like a little boy

So draw yourself a mustache, draw yourself a mustache
Draw yourself, draw yourself, draw yourself a mustache
Draw yourself a mustache, draw yourself a mustache
Draw yourself, draw yourself, draw yourself a mustache

With the years she grew
And her manly root grew with her too
Now in paratroopers
She commands over a whole troop

So draw yourself a mustache...

Recently she discovered
Some hair on her left cheek
Now she has a beard
And the mustache is still on the menu

So draw yourself a mustache...

In a city very close
To Satan's dwelling
Grew a girl, possibly a girl
She was always like a little boy

So draw yourself a mustache...

It's Purim! Well, the official holiday is tomorrow but celebrations have started since Thursday. I can't think of a more fitting song than this tune from 1990 by Noar Shulayim (translates to Marginal Youth). Lead singer Mickiyagi has said in interviews that it's simply about a girl he knew in the army who,well, had a bit of a mustache but I like to believe there's a deeper meaning underlying it regarding gender bending and choosing your own identity. In any case it's a super catchy tune which makes you want to loosen up and temporarily be something else which is basically what Purim is all about. I read in an interview that while Mickiyagi was inspired by emerging new wave artists his band mates came from the world of 80s heavy rock and I think you can really hear that in this song and it's what gives it an edge. The whole album, which was their second after a mild debut (despite this hit) kind of dresses up as a pop album (and was a very successful one) but there's still a complexity to it. You can't really discuss it without mention two of its hugest hits "Anog" (Tender) and "Amsterdam" so here they are:

The night is over
Over into the light
The moon falls
Too drunk
Up there
Like a pure baby
You up there
Aren't you sad to be alone?

How tender he is
How tender
In me crumbles the fear
How tender he is
How tender
In me awakens love

The sun
My hot fire
You are burning
With your pain alone

How tender he is...

When the light turns blue
And also the moon is ashamed of its endless loneliness
Disappears so not everyone will see it

How tender it is
How tender
How tender is the light, world
How tender it is
How tender
How tender is your light

Hana Goldberg who wrote the song has said that her inspiration for the song was the comforting sunlight-she didn't really intend for it to be Israel's first gay anthem (it came out that way especially since in Hebrew light sounds exactly like skin-how tender is your skin...) but was delighted that it gave young gays the courage to come out-this was during a time when things were still very conservative and gay culture was very secretive (quite hard to believe given how things have changed so much). Lead singer Mickiyagi never hid his sexuality but the media never discussed it-he was labeled a pop idol and was adored by girl fans, something he was never really comfortable with and this heightened success eventually lead to the band's breakup. It was always a very popular song and it's still so much fun today to sing along to (not to mention the always enjoyable slightly creepy video).

You dream of a different place
A distant continent
There you'll find peace
With a backpack on your back you
Delay a bit at the door
And go on your way

Oy Amsterdam
Oui Madame
No Madame
Magical foreign person
Come to me come home

Girls with yellow hair
Mysteriousness of Europe
Here beyond the district
When you came to Amsterdam
You immediately wanted to leave
You didn't find relaxation

Oh Amsterdam...

You go to find a place
At a specific point
There you'll find the peace
Even to India you've already reached
And the peace is not there
In your house it is hiding

Oy Amsterdam...

Hana Goldberg wrote this song as well (more hits which she wrote you can find here) and says of it: "1985-Many of my friends went to "find themselves" in Amsterdam and in India. Most of them came back wearing jellabiyas, with beads and weird haircuts and spoke of 'the enlightenment' they had experienced, but I felt that nothing had changed in them except for their clothes and hairstyles, I felt that true searching is internal and not external...". I guess this brings us back to dressing up-on Purim and in general in life... There's something so Israeli about this song and it's as relevant today as it was 30 years ago (except maybe Berlin can replace Amsterdam). There's also something so calming about the music making it perfect for Friday afternoons and easy for everyone to relate to. After the band went their separate ways Mickiyagi developed a career as a make-up artist but he did return with a new single a few months ago-I love how mature it sounds reflecting where he is today-and he still has such a beautiful voice.

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