Lonely as a Tree

Songwriting is no easy feat, it turns out

I watch “Living in LaLa Land” − a TV show featuring a group of Mizrahi singers trying to make it in Los Angeles − because to date, it’s the best reality show that’s been created here. It is, rightfully, broadcast on the Comedy Channel.

If its producers and editors have any intention of making the participants look ridiculous, that intention is well concealed. Actually, there is no need to make such an effort: They can always count on Dudu Aharon, inflated with self-importance, to turn himself into a joke.

Because the very encounter between someone who’s considered a local hero and the greater world, which has never even heard of the Nokia Auditorium in Tel Aviv, is clearly comical. If we add to that pearls of wisdom such as “Every two sides have a coin” and various diva-like mannerisms − we can understand why the program is of educational value. Aharon, for one, is learning the hard way that there are places where singers who are less famous, but, for example, who have made the effort to learn English, are more successful than he.

At the same time, the program enables people who have no expertise in Mizrahi music to become familiar with a few new names. I consider the handsome and pleasant Avihu Shabat the show’s equivalent of David Lavi. Julietta is a beautiful and charming girl, and Alon de Loco, a kind of rapper, has an excellent sense of humor. I won’t deny that in the part where twins Etti Levi and Zehava Ben made up after being on the outs for a long time, I found myself sobbing in front of the screen.

I have nothing against Aharon. I’m even willing to swear that he has a very good voice. The problem is that I prefer singers who make me feel that they understand and mean what they’re singing. And, excuse me, how can one connect to words such as “Everything comes from above, so don’t cry tonight,” or “You’re No. 1 in my heart”? I do understand the feelings in lyrics like “I’ll walk alone, without any hope, alone without a future, without hope, without a dream,” and even a person of little faith like me believes Zohar Argov in “A Sea of Tears.”

Let’s take for example the hit song by Shlomi Shabat: “Abba” ‏(Father‏). “Father,” the song opens, “a friend told me to write a song about you.” So my question is, if his father was so important to the writer − why didn’t the need for the writer to express his love for that father burn within him like fire, without a friend having to tell him to act on it?

Mother is no less popular a subject. “Thank you for the happiness / Thank you for the quiet,” another song goes. Is it conceivable that my children would ever thank me for “the quiet”? If I’m not mistaken, tickets for a trip abroad would be much more greatly appreciated.

“Maybe instead of complaining,” S. said to me, “you’ll write a Mizrahi song that you yourself can connect to?” There’s nothing easier than criticizing something, she informed me, so let’s see you do it, big shot.

The cognitive psychologist told me to write a song about you, Dad.

It’s a shame they hadn’t yet invented Cipralex in your time, Dad.

It’s lucky the force of nature that’s like God but not in the heavens protected me from you, Dad.

It’s lucky you were the only one from your family who didn’t go like a lamb to the slaughter, Dad.

It must have been hard for you that Mom used to say that you were a weakling with a Diaspora mentality, Dad.

Your life was hard and fate was cruel to you, Dad.

You did everything out of love and yet nevertheless hurt me, Dad.

But now I feel that I missed out on knowing you, Dad.

And when I look in the mirror I see that day by day, I’m becoming more like you, Dad.

Thank you for the high cheekbones you bequeathed to me, Dad.

Thank you for the long legs, but it’s a shame that because of you I’m so tall, Dad.

I hope the power of nature will protect you forever and ever, Dad.

“Very nice, and with rhymes yet,” said S., because “Dad” rhymes perfectly with “Dad.” “But what about Mom”?

So here goes:
At first I admired you, but later I was somewhat ambivalent about you, Mom.

I couldn’t always contain you, Mom.

It’s not true I went to therapy only to say bad things about you to the psychologist, Mom.

And it’s not true that the analyst incited me against you, Mom.

Sometimes you were so busy imposing your identity on me that you didn’t even see me, Mom.

But I have no complaints against you, you were the best mother you could be, Mom.

And I’ve understood that from the time that I myself became a mother, Mom.

Thank you for your excellent sense of humor, thank you for your generosity, Mom.

It’s a shame that you didn’t divorce Dad in time, Mom.

It’s a shame that you bequeathed to me the tendency to be overweight, Mom.

But at least now you’re very thin, Mom.

I think about you every day, Mom.

“Do you really think those songs will be successful?” S. asked me. “What do I know,” I replied, “everything is from above, but believe me, when he wants to, God knows very well how to arrange things.”