Archives for posts with tag: SLI

Erev shel shoshanim, “evening of roses” or “evening of lilies” has been one of the most successful songs from Israel, with the exception of Yerushalayim shel zahav (1967), and of course Hava nagilah–which was actually composed, by Abraham Zvi Idelsohn, in pre-1948 Palestine (and that is now a movie…).

It is a love song with fairly explicit biblical references (see for example Song of Songs 14:4 for the reference to myrrh, spices, and frankincense), as well as a SLI (Song of the Land of Israel) in its agricultural references to roses and the bustan, the Middle Eastern citrus grove.

An English translation is available via HebrewSongs.com:

Evening of roses
Let’s go out to the grove
Myrrh, perfumes, and incense
Are a threshold at your feet.

The night falls slowly
A breeze of roses blows
Let me whisper a song to you quietly
A song of love.

At dawn, a dove is cooing
Your hair is filled with dew
Your lips to the morning are like a rose
I’ll pick it for myself.

The Hebrew lyrics (written by Moshe Dor, a poet, writer, and journalist born in Tel Aviv in 1932) are also available on line, via Shironet. The music was composed by Yosef Hadar (Tel Aviv 1926 – Even Yehudah 2006), the son of Polish immigrants and the author of many Hebrew songs, especially in the 1940s-1950s.

Here are some musical sources, beginning with Ha-dudaim, of course, whose 1958 version of the song, originally sung by Yaffa Yarkoni (who first recorded it in 1957), made it popular worldwide.

Israeli pop-rock-and-everything-else music icon, Arik Einstein, recorded it as well, 

A late performance of Ha-parvarim (a 1960’s duo that integrated folk guitar accompaniments and Latin American arrangements with the SLI repertoire) shows it performed along with a sing-along crowd, in the style of shirah be-tzibur, or communal singing, which characterized Jewish musical life in mandatory Palestine since before the founding of the State of Israel, and that continues to this day:

But the song has had a longstanding international recognition. See below.

Yaffa Yarkoni, who must have sung this song many a times, recorded it in Spanish:

Greek international star Nana Moskouri with Israeli-French singer Mike Brant:

Harry Belafonte (his Nava nagila is better, though, either solo or with Danny Kaye):

And Miriam Makeba:

As usual, YouTube is full of surprises. See for example Israeli performer Tal Kravitz’s “Israeli-Indian encounter” with Rajendra Prasanna, in a concert sponsored by  the Indian Council for Cultural Relations and the Israeli Embassy in New Delhi:

But the love-theme of the roses (or lilies) can also be challenged. This is undoubtedly the case in Idan Reichel’s song, Shoshanim ‘atzuvot (Sad Roses). You can find the lyrics here.

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Much has been said, sung, and written, about Naomi Shemer, and her 1967 musical icon, Jerusalem of Gold (Yerushalayim shel zahav).

Here are the lyrics (in an English translation by Yael Levine)

The mountain air is clear as wine
And the scent of pines
Is carried on the breeze of twilight
With the sound of bells.

And in the slumber of tree and stone
Captured in her dream
The city that sits solitary
And in its midst is a wall.

Jerusalem of gold, and of bronze, and of light
Behold I am a violin for all your songs.

How the cisterns have dried
The market-place is empty
And no one frequents the Temple Mount
In the Old City.

And in the caves in the mountain
Winds are howling
And no one descends to the Dead Sea
By way of Jericho.

Jerusalem of gold, and of bronze, and of light
Behold I am a violin for all your songs.

But as I come to sing to you today,
And to adorn crowns to you (i.e. to tell your praise)
I am the smallest of the youngest of your children (i.e.the least worthy of doing so)
And of the last poet.

For your name scorches the lips
Like the kiss of a seraph
If I forget thee, Jerusalem,
Which is all gold…

Jerusalem of gold, and of bronze, and of light
Behold I am a violin for all your songs.

[Following lyrics added by N. Shemer after the end of the Six Day War in 1967]

We have returned to the cisterns
To the market and to the market-place
A ram’s horn (shofar) calls out on the Temple Mount
In the Old City.

And in the caves in the mountain
Thousands of suns shine –
We will once again descend to the Dead Sea
By way of Jericho!

Jerusalem of gold, and of bronze and of light
Behold I am a violin for all your songs.

In a 2004 article reflecting on Naomi Shemer’s death, Israeli political scientist, politician, columnist and cultural critic at large, Meron Benvenisti, highlighted the role of music in the early generations of Israelis, with a specific focus on the Songs of the Land of Israel (shire eretz yisrael), a repertoire that integrated (and continues to integrate today) Zionist themes (and dreams) such as the descriptions of the Land of Israel itself and its new native people, with the political realities as they developed since the founding of the State of Israel in 1948, and especially the consequences of war. Melodically, this genre resulted in an eclectic repertoire.

Here’s Benvenisti’s article:

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Listen, as an example, to Naomi Shemer’s Lu yehi, written after the Yom Kippur War of 1973:

[youtube http://youtu.be/_Ru-ced6v20]

And then compare it to its globalized model, The Beatles’ Let It Be.

[youtube http://youtu.be/ajCYQL8ouqw]

Volume 2 (Valour and Heroism. Hanuka, Tel-Hai Day, Lag B’Omer) and Volume 4 (Chage ha-teva’ – Nature Songs) of Classified Palestine Songs, rotaprinted in Jerusalem, Palestine (before 1948) by the Overseas Youth Department of the Jewish National Fund, n.d. (Materials from The Magnes Collection of Jewish Art and Life, UC Berkeley).

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