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The Israel Beat blog is a place for poetry submission, concert announcemnets, upcoming shows and musings on Jewish music. The Israel Beat Jewish Music Podcast brings you live in-studio performances with up and coming Israeli musicians as well as interviews with the stars of the Jewish music world. Plus your music requests and the free CD give-away air live on the show. Past interviews have included Matisyahu, Avraham Fried, and Miri Ben-Ari. The Beat with Ben Bresky broadcasts live every Sunday from 6:00 p.m. to 7:00 p.m. Israel time on Arutz Sheva - Israel National Radio. For more info email email@example.com.
I have always been fascinated by the song Alei Barikadot by Michael Ashbel, which was an anthem for the Irgun underground in the 1940s in Israel. My friend Eitan called me the other day and we were chatting about current events. He told me that last year he attended the funeral of Sarah Livni. And then he started singing Alei Barikadot. The first line of the song is "today my little Sarah, I shall go to war..." I never knew this was referring to a specific person.
The following is a brief bio of Sarah Livni from this site
Sarah Livni was a member of the Irgun, a pre-state paramilitary organization, and was arrested by the British and imprisoned in Bethlehem. Sarah Livni was known as 'Little Sarah' during her Irgun days, and the famous song 'Alei Barikadot' begins with these words which was written by Michael Ashbel, another member of the Irgun. Sarah married Eitan, a fellow Irgun member, one day after Israel declared independence. The two were the first to be married in the modern state of Israel.
The following is a bio of Michael Ashbel from this site:
Born in Vilna, Lithuania, at an early age he joined Betar and later joined the Irgun in Poland. After the German invasion of Poland, he fled to Russia and joined the Free Polish Forces and reached Iraq. From there he made his way to Eretz Israel and joined the Irgun. Soon after, he joined the Fighting Force and took part in numerous operations, such as: the blowing-up of the British Intelligence offices in Jaffa, the attack on the military airfield in Lydda etc.
On March 6, 1946, he took part in the attack on the Sarafand army camp, and was injured in the exchange of fire, together with his friend, Yosef Simchon. They were loaded into a car, which set out for Tel Aviv in order to take them to hospital, but encountered a British roadblock on the way and were arrested. Two months later Ashbel and Simchon were placed on trial before a military tribunal and sentenced to death (June 13, 1946). However, the kidnapping of British officers by the Irgun forced the British High Commissioner to commute the death sentence to life imprisonment. Ashbel was wounded by British gunfire during the breakout of Acre jail and died of his injuries several hours later.
The lyrics of Alei Barikadot are from this site.
Raise Up the Barricades
by M. Ashbel
Today my little Sarah
We'll part as I go to war
To establish the state
On both sides of the Jordan
Harden your heart
And tighten your belt
Embrace me, take the Sten
And join me in the ranks
Raise up the barricades we shall meet
Do not cry For such is my fate Wipe away your tears
Raise up the barricades we bring freedom with blood and fire.
Rifle to rifle, barrel to barrel
Bullet to bullet we shall fire
Raise up the barricades we shall meet
And if on the gallows
I shall give my life for the nation
Do not cry
For such is my fate
Wipe away your tears
Hold the Sten close to your heart
And choose for yourself another
From the men of my squad
I found the song on a couple albums, Songs of the Underground, Songs of the Etzel and Lechi and Betar Songs. But I don't like the renditions of it. Its a kind of a dated style with lots of instrumentation and a chorus. Not the way I imagined an underground anthem.
There is a cool album called Songs of Jabotinsky which has more modern versions of some 1940's songs, as peformed by Shlomo Artzi and other Israeli pop singers in the early 1970s.
Chaim Israel is, in my opinion, the ultimate crossover artist. About half of his new album Someone to Rely On is smooth, light, slow songs based on Psalms and other religious sources. I could see each one being played on a contemporary pop station. The other tracks on the album are fast paced and exciting with a Mediterranean beat.
Chaim Israel has previously released similar sounding albums as well as albums of only Mizrachi and Yemenite music. On this new one he also has that typical twangy oud, Middle Eastern sounding horns and other Mizrachi elements. Some tracks are in the Mizrachi style alone while others mix that sound with an electronic dance beat. The title track incorporates a klezmer sounding clarinet and has an "oy yoi yoi" chorus laid over a dance beat, but the breakdown in the middle is Mizrachi sounding. I played it on my show this week. Another track has a chant of "na nach nachman me uman".
I love that combination of styles. It reminds me a little of a hit from 2004 by Subliminal's TACT All Stars featuring HaTzel (The Shadow) called At Oti Shofetet which mixes Mizrachi singing and oud with rapped verses, hip-hop record scratches and a reggae chorus.
Another Chaim Israel favorite of mine is Rak Elokim from his album Words of Prayer. He also has a couple Yiddish songs on other albums.
The relatively young singer is a religious Israeli of Mizrachi / Sephardic background. He is a best seller at Gal Paz and other religious music stores in Israel. In the past couple months he has also released a two disc set of live tracks.
I used to do a radio show with Tzvi Turner who turned me on to a lot of hasidic pop. Because Tzvi lived in New York, he personally knew a lot of the top performers such as Shloime Dachs, Mendy Wald and Yosi Piamenta. I thought for sure a guy named Yeedle could never be cool. But as soon as Tzvi played the first couple seconds of Yeedle IV, I liked it. It was like a mix of acoustic guitar and hasidic pop. Catchy and cool. You can listen Tzvi's show at http://jewishcommunityradio.org/
Today I saw a bus in Jerusalem with a big ad for Yeedle's 5th album. It's enjoyable. Not too complicated. Very listenable. One track is a slow song in Yiddish. Most of the album is in the same upbeat, fast danceable, catchy style with a horn section, some sprinkles of electric guitar and some light electronic beats. But mostly the good old tried and true hasidic pop you know and love. The stuff pioneered by Yeedle's father, Modechai Ben David.
Yeedle's grandfather, David Werdyger (also spelled Dovid) is a well known cantor and has released several popular records. Although I never heard of David Werdyger growing up, when I listened to one of his albums I recognized many of the melodies from synagogue and the Shabbat table. David has an interesting story of how he was saved in the Holocaust by a song. It can be read here: http://heichalhanegina.blogspot.com/2007/04/saved-in-holocaust-by-song.html
One last comment on the new Yeedle album. The cover has this moving image thing. It's like a hologram or something. I thought it was so cool, I went around the radio station showing it to everyone (and interrupting the news anchors). But I can't figure out what exactly to call it. Is it a hologram? Or what? Whoever can give me the correct technical name of it wins a free CD. You can email me at firstname.lastname@example.org.