Sunday, 9 October 2016

My Favourite Israeli Song

A recent tide of Israeli music in Spotify has resulted in it finally, at last, after many long years, featuring the song that is probably my favourite Israeli / Hebrew speaking song ever:



In case you don't do Spotify and can't access the above embedded song, the song I am talking about is called Carim Abdul Zamar from the band Mashina. It is taken from the band's first album, released in 1985.
I do have a couple of notes to go with the song.

First, a bit of personal history.
When this record from Mashina came out, it was a big hit in Israel. Virtually all the songs became hits in their own rights (perhaps with a single exception).
I still remember how, coming out of a Friday night cinema experience featuring Iron Eagle 5 (or some other ultra inferior film experience) with one of my best friends, we bumped into another best friend who came out of a live Mashina show that turned out to take place right next to our cinema.
We were disappointed; we didn't even know that show was on. He, on the other hand, was excited, telling us how - during one of the songs (Ballad For A Double Agent, if you have to know) - the singer took out a giant carrot from under his coat and threw it at the crowd. Yes, it was all happening, and we weren't invited.
Luckily for all three of us, school took us to see Mashina later that year. During school time! And a year or two later, it took us again, thus probably making Mashina into the band I've seen live the most times.

Second, and perhaps more importantly, I would like to explain why I like Carim Abdul Zamar so much. After all, music wise, we are not talking here about a Beatles competitor.
I guess I like the song because it reminds me of the Israel I sort of remember growing at. It's got its oriental themes but it also got Western rock.
The lyrics are nonsense, made up of gibberish, Hebrew, Arabic, English, French and even German - but that's the nice thing about the song. In the Israel I grew up in one would know, more or less, all these expressions from all of these languages (with the notable exception of the gibberish). No, I do not speak French, for example, but I was exposed to a lot of French cinema (way more than the average Aussie is exposed to); I did not speak Arabic, but we did study it at school and Arabic expressions and swearwords did feature in our daily lives.
Nothing special, I know, until I compare things with the current state of Israel, as recently sampled. Nowadays, Israel is a country where the Jewish population actively distances itself from Arab culture as if it's inferior. Gone is that joyful spirit that allowed the mix of words that turned out into a fun song evoking one of the best [Muslim] basketball players ever to grace this world.
But at least I got my song on Spotify now.

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