Picking out the 10 most beautiful songs by Arik Einstein is impossible. The best any of us could do is pick his songs that have personal meaning for us. Here are ten of his most beautiful songs — and we could put together at least ten more lists.
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“The Long, Sad Days” — As Eli Mohar once wrote, “Arik is never sensitive only; he is almost always contemplative.” This is one of the most beautiful contemplative songs in Israeli music. Einstein not only performs it wonderfully; he also wrote the lyrics. The exquisite melody is Shalom Hanoch’s, and the magnificent arrangement is by Alex Weiss.
“Why Take It to Heart” — although the dynamic is one of quiet verses with an upbeat refrain taken from the Beatles, Einstein and Shalom Hanoch translate the Beatles into a superb Israeli work.
“You and I” — Arik Einstein said, “‘You and I will change the world’; the natural desire of every generation is to make a better world. To me, it’s not something that’s done with flags and revolutions, but by you and me being together. As in: If we’re together, it will be better.”
“I See Her on the Way to High School” — These powerful lyrics by Yankale Rotblit would be banned from the radio today, and Miki Gavrielov’s music captures the defeat and humiliation of a brokenhearted man. “Has somebody already seduced the most beautiful girl in the class?”
“Drive Slowly” — As the song says, “Think of the poor sports fans eating their hearts out right now.”
“Your Forehead Is Crowned with Black Gold” — Few people know that Arik Einstein helped bring this song into the world. When Yoni Rechter got stuck on the line “You love to be sad and quiet,” Einstein suggested that he break up the melody and divide it among the words.
“What Do the Deer Do?” — possibly the most beautiful Israeli children’s song.
“Fly Away, Little Bird” — A gorgeous song from beginning to end, its loveliest part is the phrase “gur lekha” — literary Hebrew for “beware, take care, be careful.”
“Yossi the Parrot” — “Sadness is like a cup of bitter wine made from grapes of the soul.” “Even if I live to be 500, I’ll never be able to write a sentence like that,” Einstein said. “If people could be brought back from the grave, [the poet] Avraham Halfi would be at the top of the list.”
“Wet Sun” — Einstein was over 60 years old when he wrote this song, in which his older self reflects on his younger days. Even if his foggy, elusive, and not entirely realistic memories bring him into a dreamy state of mind, they are still wonderfully concrete (“and a wet sun strikes my pale skin”).
The music (by Micha Shitrit) and the arrangement (by Raviv Gazit) are wonderful as well.