To Live in Longing
"To Live in Longing" is a 2-song digital EP of music that came out of a recent trip I took to Israel, the first time I had traveled to my childhood state in 5 years. The first piece, "This Year I've Traveled Far", is a setting of one of Yehuda Amichai's "Jerusalem, 1967" poems, and the first setting I've written of Hebrew text of substantial length. I grew up with Amichai's poetry, its deep humanity, warmth and lingering sadness. The poem and its themes of travel, longing, leaving and returning had been bouncing around in my head for weeks before I embarked on my journey, and the musical germ revealed itself in those weeks. But it wasn't until I was sitting on my parents' porch overlooking the Jerusalem mountains that I started working on the piece in earnest and found the way to reflect musically the long cords that seem to emerge from that poem into the horizon. The setting is realized with a combination of acoustic and electronic instruments, found sound and audio processing. My deep thanks to my talented and beautiful friends Laura Brenneman, Tali Rubinstein and Skye Steele, who contributed to this recording.
The second piece, "Early Evening", is an arrangement of the classic Hebrew song "Lifnot Erev", a staple of my Friday night radio listening that was written by the giant of Hebrew music Sasha Argov and popularized by the singer Edna Goren in the 60's. During my trip I had the unique experience of seeing Goren perform at a bittersweet birthday party for a mutual friend, and her soft-spoken and nuanced delivery haunted me for weeks. I arranged the song for two guitars, with extensive changes to harmony and rhythm that stem from my experience in both avant-garde and Balkan music, and recorded it in my home studio.
Together, these two tracks form for me a kind of audio journal that chronicles the complicated emotions that arise from returning to a childhood home after a long absence, and confronting the changes, both in the place and in oneself, that such a journey highlights.
from Jerusalem, 1967
by Yehuda Amichai
translated by Vilnai
This year I've traveled far to
witness the quiet of my city.
A babe is calmed in rocking, a city calms in the distance.
I lived in longing. I played the game of the
four strict words of Yehuda HaLevi:
My heart. Myself. East. West.
I heard bells ringing in the religions of time,
But the wail I heard within me
was of my desert, Judea.
Now that I'm back, I cry again.
And at night stars rise like bubbles of the drowned,
Each night I cry a cry of a newborn babe
From the confusion of houses and all of this great light.