Woven through the stories and the summers of our youth
Your laughter threaded through the soundtrack of our days
And nights spent in the camp that hugged the Delaware
Where slivers of our hearts will always stay
They say time flies too fast, my friend, and I believe it’s true
For it seems like only yesterday I first laid eyes on you
Or maybe just this morning, not so very long ago
So tell me how the hell are we supposed to let you go
I’ll remember you with laughter and I’ll think of you with joy
Of long-forgotten moments when you were just a boy
While sifting through the memories that span across the years
Of words sent over miles where you shared your hopes and fears
Now I’m sitting here in sadness ‘cause I can’t believe you’re gone
It shouldn’t have to end this way – it seems so very wrong
As I listen to the songs we’ll never hear you sing again
My smile slowly drowns in tears with thoughts of you, my friend
Quintessential Dave, who always made us laugh:
In memory of Dave Alpert, who left this world way too soon…
Links to Dave’s music:
by Liza Rosenberg
My son clung to me and cried as he begged me to turn off the news last night. Through his tears, he said that he’d been ok in the morning when I gently broke the news to him that Arik Einstein had died, but that all day long, no matter where he went, people wouldn’t stop talking about it. And suddenly, while watching President Peres eulogize Israel’s greatest musical icon, he simply couldn’t take it anymore.
Not that it was easier for anyone else, of course. I, like so many of my friends and fellow Israelis, labored to get through a day that was permeated with sadness and seen through the occasional haze of tears. We shared memories and milestones that played out against the backdrop of his music, and it seemed that no matter where we’d grown up or what we’d done, Arik Einstein’s songs were seamlessly woven into the tapestry.
Growing up in Young Judaea, his music was as much a part of our collective Zionist identity as Israel itself – so much so, that during the National Summer Convention in 1985, we voted to make the song “Ani V’Ata” (see the transliterated version and a translation here) the movement’s official national song. And yesterday, as I struggled with my writer’s need to convey all that Arik Einstein had meant to me, I remembered that the starting point of my love affair with his music began with that song. Suddenly, I found the words I wanted to write.
You sang that we could change the world
And we believed you as only youngsters can
But really, it was you who changed ours
For we allowed your words to guide us
And as we strove to make a difference
Your music was the soundtrack of our lives
Rest in peace, Arik. Thank you for changing our world and creating the soundtrack of our lives.
1939 – 2013
…יהי זכרו ברוך
by Liza Rosenberg
I can say, without a doubt, that my love of and knowledge regarding Israeli music is a direct result of my years Young Judaea‘s Camp Tel Yehudah. Every day after lunch we’d have a camp-wide sing-along, working our way through the camp songbook, calling out favorites (often by page number – such was our familiarity with the songbook) and singing song after song at the tops of our lungs. The songs were taught to us by whomever the music counselor happened to be that summer, and songs ran the gamut. We learned folk songs and relatively contemporary hits, and in the early years, our singing was accompanied by an accordion. This all changed the summer that Jay arrived on the scene, for Jay played an electronic synthesizer. We were wowed by his talents and thrilled by his song choices. His synthesizer not only gave new life to the old songs we loved, but it also provided the gateway that allowed us to enter the world of Israeli rock, for as much as we appreciated the accordion, it simply didn’t do justice to Israeli music from the 80s.
by Liza Rosenberg
In short, we were hooked! We quickly learned the words to all the new songs, singing loudly at mealtimes and pushing our chairs back so that we could jump up and dance. Of course, everyone had their own favorite song, but there were a few that were loved by everyone. “Yom Shishi” (“Friday”) by the popular Israeli band Benzene (for whom I can’t seem to find a link in English, unfortunately – the Hebrew Wikipedia page can be found here) – led by the talented Yehuda Poliker – was probably the most requested song of the summer one year, and to this day, whenever I hear it, I can’t help but sing along (as long as there’s no one in earshot) and start to dance (again, as long as no one else is around, since I really, really can’t dance…). (more…)
On a drizzly Sunday morning in Niskayuna, NY, as my family and I were heading out the door to attend a picnic for my 20th high school reunion, a quick look at the news revealed that an Israeli soldier had been kidnapped. The date was June 25th, 2006. It’s been more than five long years since Gilad Shalit was taken across the border into Gaza. Five years of demonstrations, banners, tents and marches; a nation refusing to give up on the dream of bringing one him home. And tomorrow, if all goes according to plan, Gilad will finally be coming home. The price is painful, but in my opinion, Israel is doing the right thing. The current instability in the Middle East means that we may not have gotten another opportunity to carry out the exchange, and five years is a long time to be held in captivity.
In addition to the official negotiating teams, there was one individual working behind the scenes; one individual who made contact with someone from the other side and laid the groundwork for getting Gilad Shalit released. That individual was an American-born Israeli who grew up in the same youth movement that I did – Young Judaea.
Say what you will about youth movements, Zionism and the like, but Young Judaea helped to make me the person I am today. It taught me how to think critically; it taught me that there doesn’t have to be just one way to do things. And it taught me that together, we can change the world. (more…)
by Liza Rosenberg
As some of you may remember, several years ago I wrote a weekly blog post for a series I called “80s Music Video Sunday“. Having grown up in the 80s, the music of that decade was the background music of my teen years – the theme music for my teenage angst, if you will. Each week I chose a different song and wrote about the memories behind the choice, waxing nostalgically about everything from my first slow dance to the music I listened to on a loop when I was confined to a hospital bed in Jerusalem after shattering my ankle, to my student activist days in university.
I managed to keep that series going for about a year before I felt that I’d run out of things to write about, and I regretted it. I enjoyed being able to share the stories and experiences of my past alongside the songs that had played such a dominant role in my life, but it was becoming harder to come up with new ideas and the songs were becoming increasingly more obscure. With a heavy heart and a touch of relief, I put an end to the series, while at the same time wondering how I’d be able to resurrect it – or something like it – later on. (more…)
by Liza Rosenberg
At the Little One’s brit milah celebration, the Husband surprised me with a birthday cake of my own. My son was supposed to have been born on my birthday, but when the contractions began on the evening of May 26th, 2004, I knew that our birthdays were not going to be the same. He popped out shortly after 2am on the 28th, just over a week shy of my 36th birthday. Which means, of course, that today I’m 41 (and that my favorite blogger in Ireland is recovering from her birthday, which was yesterday – happy birthday, Beth!).
In honor of my 41st birthday, I’ve decided to take on the rather mammoth writing task of sharing 41 songs that either take me back to a specific point in time or have somehow made an impact on my life – both for better and for worse. I often receive requests to revive 80s Music Video Sunday (though most of the requests seem to come from Benji. Funny, that…), so while this is going to be a bit different, I hope you enjoy it.
Here it goes, in no particular order…
- It’s Still Rock and Roll to Me, by Billy Joel. Most kids today have probably never seen an actual record. When I was little, I used to check Billy Joel’s “Glass Houses” record album out of the library on a regular basis, mostly to hear this song. I can still sing it word for word, which will no doubt come in handy when I go to see Billy Joel and Elton John perform in Albany, NY in late July. The process of purchasing the tickets provided excellent fodder for a blog post, but I think I’ll combine it into a post-concert entry. Which brings me to…
- Crocodile Rock, by Elton John. This is one of the first songs I can actually remember hearing and singing along to on the car radio. I think I might actually start to grin like an idiot if he sings it during the concert.
- I Saved the World Today, by the Eurythmics. Shortly before our second trip to London for the egg donation procedure, I felt like my life was spiraling out of control. It was shortly after September 11th, 2001. My parents planned to visit before our trip to London and I couldn’t give them precise dates because I still didn’t know what our precise dates were going to be. The logistics were a nightmare because airlines were changing their schedules. NRG and I were trying to coordinate medications, ultrasounds, and cycles, and our London-based clinic was suddenly trying to change the rules, asking us to come to London beforehand for a single appointment to get us started, instead of allowing us to work with our own local doctors as planned. Whenever I felt like I was about to lose it, listening to this song calmed me down. I must have played it more than 100 times.
- Unforgettable, by Natalie Cole and Nat King Cole. This was our wedding song. We spent months trying to come up with a song, without success. While visiting a friend in New Orleans, I heard this song and knew straight away that this was the one. When the opening notes were played at the wedding, the guests responded with a collective “ooooh!”
- Had a Bad Day, by Daniel Powter. This song was released in Israel shortly before the 2005 disengagement from Gaza. I’d started blogging again only several months earlier, at the urging my then blogging partner Anglosaxy. In the period leading up to the disengagement, the Anglo-Israeli blogosphere was on fire, and each day brought a new round of toxic, stomach-churning exchanges. There were days when I was afraid to read comments and open my inbox, and this was the song I played over and over.
- Ani V’ata, by Arik Einshtein. This song, whose first line translates to “you and I will change the world”, and it’s the national song of the youth movement in which I grew up – Young Judaea. I can still remember the national summer convention when we voted to make it the movement’s official song. Those were the good old days, and hearing it now always takes me back.
- Thank You, by Lionel Bastos. I don’t even remember how I stumbled upon this song, nor do I have a copy of it today – I can’t find one anywhere, nor can I find a clip of it on Youtube. Listening to it always reminded me of NRG and all that our friendship has given to me over the years. Hey Lionel, if you’re reading this – how do I score a copy of this amazing tune?
- What a Wonderful World, by Louis Armstrong. This was the song I chose for the father-daughter dance at my wedding, and it’s also the song I used to sing to the Little One when he was a baby. Whenever he had trouble sleeping I’d carry him out to our porch and sing it softly into his ear, holding him close. Now that he’s older and wiser, he asks me not to sing at all. If you heard me sing, you’d make the same request…
- Tears in Heaven, by Eric Clapton. Hearing this song always reminds me of our first son, whose name was Elad. I can’t listen to it without getting tears in my eyes, and even though I have it in my collection, I’ve decided I can’t have it on my mp3 player.
- Oof Gozal, by Arik Einshtein. This song, whose title means “fly away little bird”, is essentially about empty nest syndrome. We chose to put the chorus of the song on Elad’s headstone – “fly away little bird; cut across the sky. Fly to wherever you desire to go”.
- Corner of the Sky, from the Broadway musical “Pippin“. I learned this song in summer camp more than 20 years ago. I’ve often felt that I haven’t been in the right place, felt a need to find or create my own space in the world, so this song resonated with me from the first time I heard it. It still does.
- Stairway to Heaven, by Led Zeppelin. That’s an easy one. I don’t know what school and youth group dances are like now, but back in the day, Stairway to Heaven was always the last song played. As the first notes were struck, there would be quick scan of the room followed by a calculated mad dash to find the slow dance partner who would be yours for a grand total of eight minutes and two seconds. I can remember at least two youth group friends who began the dance as friends, started making out, and ended up a couple for at least a year.
- Brown Eyed Girl, by Van Morrison. Whenever I hear this song, I’m reminded of the impromptu performance on my wedding video, given by a small group of friends who were on Project Otzma with me, back in 1991-92. Definitely one of the more memorable moments from my wedding, along with the marathon best man’s toast, given by one of our closest friends – also an Otzma alum. More than 15 years later, he still gets teased about it.
- Winds of Change, by the Scorpions. While on Otzma during the winter of 1991-92 (the last really wet, snowy winter in Israel), this song was by far the most popular song among the kids at the boarding school where we were volunteering (and where, incidentally, I also met my husband, who was the 11th grade counselor). Our experiences there as volunteers could probably fill several books.
- Open Arms, by Journey. The first song I ever slow danced to, at my first USY weekend event in Clifton Park, NY, back in 1982. We didn’t make out, and we certainly didn’t become a couple. Rumor had it that he did, however, become a small-time drug dealer.
- Cliffs of Dover, by Eric Johnson. Hearing this completely instrumental song makes me want to jump in the car, roll down the windows, and blast it through the streets of Boston, as one of my college roommates and I used to do during our senior year.
- Don’t Stand So Close to Me, by The Police. I can barely recall why, but this song will always remind me of Beth, an old friend from camp. It was during the summer of 1982, and while the background completely escapes me, I do remember that we sang it and played it a lot that summer, and that it always drew an amusing reaction from Beth.
- Easy Lover, by Phil Collins and Philip Bailey. Remember the days when you could win concert tickets over the radio by being the 14th caller after a certain song was played? I really wanted Phil Collins tickets, and this was the song we had to listen for. I dialed until my finger calloused (remember phone dials), but alas, it was not to be.
- Total Eclipse of the Heart, by Bonnie Tyler. This song reminds me of a party I had in my parents’ basement when I was in 10th grade. Our school was hosting a group of Israeli high school students from southern town of Arad. We’re still very close with the young woman who stayed in our home, and feel like part of their family. Another interesting tidbit about this group is that it included Avi Balashnikov, who resigned this week from his post as director general of the state comptroller’s office – a post he took over only a few short months ago, upon resigning from his former position as director general of the Knesset. Despite the current controversy in which he’s currently embroiled, I have only fond memories of Avi who, it should be noted, had a full head of curly hair when I last saw him .
- Wild World, by Cat Stevens. This was the song that our class sang to close the senior show, a longstanding tradition at my old high school that included a variety of skits and musical performances. This memory is from 1986. That’s right, fellow classmates – we graduated from high school 23 years ago. More than just a little stomach churning…
- Hands Across America. Though people probably don’t remember this song as well as some of the other charity songs that were all the rage back in the mid-80s, I remember it well, singing it while holding hands with strangers in Washington DC on May 25th, 1986. Somewhere, I’ve still got my Hands Across America t-shirt, which I’m guessing will never, ever fit again.
- Twist and Shout, by The Beatles. My brother and his friends performed this song in a never-ending loop to close the camp talent show one summer. Not only was it great to see my little bro garnering so much attention, but one of his “bandmates” (who’s been one of his best friends since nursery school) went on to form one of Atlanta, GA’s hottest bands – Soup. Definitely cool to hear your little brother’s best friend singing on your mp3 player.
- Big Rock Candy Mountain, by Burl Ives. My parents had a lot of folk music albums around the house when I was growing up. Hearing this one always takes me back to the den in my parents’ old house, and in the memory, I’m always rather pint-sized.
- Cold as Ice, by Foreigner. I was always a tomboy when I was a kid, and as much as I loved all the ball games they let us play during physical education classes, I hated with equal passion the times when we were asked to put together and perform solo dance or gymnastics routines. I was never very good at either, and the thought of having to be the center of attention – especially under these circumstances – left me paralyzed with fear. My completely inability to fulfill these tasks meant that I was fascinated by those who could, and one of these talented individuals was a girl named Lynne. I’ve never forgotten that this was the song that Lynne chose – a memory tinged with sadness ever since I learned that Lynne was one of those killed on Pan Am flight #103 over Lockerbie, Scotland.
- It’s All Magic, by Nimrod Lev and Orly Perl. This Hebrew-language song received heavy airplay during the late fall and winter of 1998/99. At the time, Elad was in a hospital located an hour’s drive from home, and driving back and forth every day meant that I heard this song on a daily basis. I never even really liked it, but for me, it’s inextricably linked to those dark days, the long drives to and from the hospital as we took shifts to ensure that one of us was there all the time.
- Yoya, by Kaveret. Anyone who went to Young Judaea’s Camp Tel Yehudah during the 80s should know this song. At the very least, they should be able to do the dance. Geek that I was, I taught myself the words.
- Blue Moon, by The Marcels. When you’re an awkward sixth grade girl in the throes of your geek years, what would be your biggest nightmare? If you guessed being asked to stand and then being serenaded by an all male a cappella singing group in your cousin’s fraternity house at Cornell University during homecoming weekend, you’d be right. Some scars memories never fade.
- Little Star, by The Elegants. I did not have the cool 4th grade teacher. The cool 4th grade teacher was Mr. Reber. The kids in Mr. Reber’s class got to sing this awesome 50s song in their class play. I don’t remember what our class did for the class play. I don’t even remember that we had a class play.
- Stumblin’ In, by Suzi Quatro and Chris Norman. I’m the person you want on your Trivial Pursuit team. I’ve got a head full of useless entertainment trivia, which is why I didn’t even have to think back in the spring of 1991 when the radio DJ asked who played Leather Tuscadero on Happy Days – Suzi Quatro. Hearing this song always reminds of that proud moment, even though I can’t actually recall if we won or not.
- Sugar Sugar, by The Archies. When we were kids, my friend Amy had the coolest bedroom ever. It was in the basement of her family’s house, and in addition to the regular stairs leading down to the main part, Amy had a spiral staircase in her room, leading up to the ground floor. And, if that weren’t enough, you had to walk up two or three steps to get to her bed, which was surrounded by a wide frame. Hours and hours were spent jumping up and down on her bed while listening to this song, and hearing it always reminds me Amy and her fabulous room.
- There’s a Hole in My Bucket, by Harry Belafonte and Odetta. Ever spend an entire drive from Springfield, Massachusetts to Schenectady, NY listening to this song repeatedly? I have. Thanks, NRG!
- Have Yourself a Merry Little Christmas. We lived on a great street growing up, with amazing neighbors all around. Every year, our next door neighbors would invite us to their annual Christmas party, and one year, one of the oldest daughters (one sister from a set of twins) surprised her parents with a recording of herself and a friend, singing this song. To this day, I believe that was the most beautiful version of this song that I’ve heard, and hearing any other version always reminds me of that one.
- Rainbow Connection, by Kermit the Frog. Starting a new job is always stressful, especially when you get hit with massive amounts of work to do from day one. What makes the late nights in the office easier to bear? Copious amounts of pizza and singing along to the Muppets with your brand new colleagues.
- Yom Shishi, by Benzene. We had music counselors in camp, and without exception, they all played a rather mean accordion – a necessity when singing those old Israeli songs. Then Jay came along, and Jay had an electric synthesizer. Jay rocked our world with his modern technology, and taught us songs that sounded much better when accompanied by a synthesizer than by an accordion. Yom shishi, which means “Friday”, was one of those songs. It quickly became a favorite, and nothing quite beats hearing it sung in a roar by 200 American teenagers.
- You’ve Got a Friend, by James Taylor. A perennial youth group favorite, hearing this song always takes me back. In my mind, I can still see the lyrics printed out in the purple toner, having been typed up using a typewriter and printed out using carbon paper.
Hey! Coming up with 41 songs that have impacted your life is not easy! It’s not a matter of simply listing songs I like – there has to be a reason, there has to be some meaning, some memory. And, since I also decided that I don’t want to recycle too many 80s Music Video Sunday songs, I’ve automatically disqualified a multitude of old faves. So, after wracking my brain for days to come up with a full list of 41 new songs, I’ve only managed to come up with 35. Therefore, I’ve got a challenge for you. For those of you who know me – or those of you who think you know me, I’d love to know what songs make you think of me? What songs take you back to some experience we may have shared? I’m waiting…
A special thank you goes out to the friend who actually managed to get me a copy of Lionel Bastos’ song “Thank You”, mentioned above as song number 7. You’re amazing!
by Liza Rosenberg