An Israeli song, in Hebrew, performed and written by David Broza, lyrics by Jonathan Geffen.
Yiyeh Tov (It will be good) is the story of Israel and war. It was relevent and powerful when it was written, and now is even more so. Written in 1978, a verse was added in 1982 when Sadat came to Jerusalem, but removed after Yitzchak Rabin was asassinated in 1995.
I can't decide whether this is a song of hope or ironic despair. I'm fairly sure it's a love song too. It is delicately built, with only a gently plucked guitar at first, building up into a fuller sound as more instruments join later. The lyrics are replete with double meanings, and my commentary has tried to perserve them where my translation can't.
I gaze out the window and it makes me very sad
The spring's gone, it's passed, who knows if it will return.
The clown became a king, the prophet will become a clown,
And I've forgotten the way, but I'm still here
The first lines echo Yehuda Amichai's "Of three or four in a room,
One is always standing at the window", I am distant but compelled to watch what unfolds, incapable of more than hoping. And I seem to be witnessing a Fall - the end of the innocence of spring. Fools have become the leaders, and those few who can see what's coming are written off as fanciful or deluded. In fact, I can't remember what it is I'm supposed to be doing any more; perhaps they don't need me. I had an ideology once, beliefs and goals and things. But now I feel left behind, like I'm stuck in the present while the world carries on to a scary future.
And it'll be good, It'll be good, yes.
Sometimes I'm broken
Then the night, oh the night,
I remain with you.
But, it's going to be OK, that's what I tell myself over and over. It's going to be OK. I cling onto that as a tennet of faith, and sometimes that's not enough. The stress gets so high that I shatter into a thousand fragments. And when it gets dark and the world tries to swallow me whole, you save me, you give me back my hope. You are my Archimedean
point. I stay.
Children put on wings and fly to the army,
And after two years they come back without an answer.
People live on the edge looking for a reason to breathe
And between hate and murder, they talk about peace.
They are only eighteen when they are called for National Service; too young. Their first freedom is in the army rather than University or a part-time job. They come back... different. Older, like all of us. They come back without answers, without truly returning, with no repentance. But there seems to be no alternative. We are all on a cusp, on the margins of survival, trying to work out why we bother. We ignore the violence, push aside the hate and sing songs of peace as if everything was fine. And it's going to be OK, that's what I tell myself.
There up in the sky clouds learn to fly,
And I gaze up and see a hijacked plane.
A government of generals divide the view
Between what's theirs and what's ours, and we still can't see the end...
Even the sky itself is corrupted; I can't look up and cloudgaze any more, without thinking of how danger is everywhere now and nobody is safe. And everybody else feels it too. That's why we've put the military in charge of us, men who can make us feel secure. People who see the world in Zones and spheres of control. And then we feel less secure than ever. It's a cycle, and we're trapped. There's no way out...
Here is a fork. The song goes up at this point, trailing off and
the different versions diverge. The original continues:
We will still learn to live together between rows of olive trees
Children will live without fear, without borders, without bomb-shelters
In villages will grow the grass of peace and love,
A hundred years of destruction and we still haven't lost hope.
Like the Ontological Argument, the vision is so perfect that if must be true. Perhaps that's why I can be confident in its fulfilment. One day, we'll be normal. The pain doesn't crush the hope. And it's going to be OK, that's what I tell myself.
The other version of the song goes:
Then the president of Egypt came,
How I rejoiced to see him
Pyramids in the eyes, and peace in his pipe
And we said "Come, make peace, and we'll live like brothers"
And then he said "Onwards - just leave the territories"
Suddenly our most dangerous enemy came and taught us that hopes can come true. It didn't seem real, and we were suspicious, and he said to us: Be genuine. Withdraw from the superficialities. Leave the Sinai. And we did, and it's going to be OK
I gaze out of the window to see if it's all true,
Gaze out the window and whisper my prayers.
Lion will live with sheep still, and tiger and goat,
But for now, don't take your hand out of my palm.
It's almost ironic, I suppose, but I'm scared when something good happens, in case it isn't real. I don't allow my hopes to get up, and stay distant watching from my window, as I did when things worsened, and I keep praying. Maybe Isaiah was right about the wolf and all that, but it hasn't happened yet. So for now, I'm staying here, with you. You and myself are all I can count on. Don't leave me.
Traslation mine. Excerpts from Yiyeh Tov. Lyrics (c) Jonathan Geffen 1978, 1982