ALWAYS ON MY MIND

January 24th, 2006

Any minute now David Sky’s coming for rehearsal, and, well, it’s gonna be mostly drinking, talking, catching up and a little playing too. If the elements allow, we might even get to write a new song or two.  We’re hooked now on Elvis Presely’s ALWAYS ON MY MIND, thanks to my main man on this planet music these days, Ryan Adams.

My albums of this month: Ryans Adams’ “29” and his “Jacksonville City Lights“. Also Dylan’s “Highway 62 Revisited“.

In the film department: the AMAZING rockumentary “DIG!” and “NO DIRECTION HOME“.

In the still photography departent: my babe, Noa Ben-Shalom, the mad photographer. She’s got a new site, and I gotta say, she’s one of the best action still photographer I know. Her magic eyes always made me look  beautiful when sort of least expected. Noa is the babe in the song “A Miracle at a Time” from my album “THE MOVE“. She always spreads her whole world on the floor. That’s how I met her some hearty years ago. Haven’t seen her for a while, but I heard she’s coming to Jerusalem this weekend. You can listen to this song on the MUSIC page.

HERE'S MY WORD TO YOU (a new song)

December 30th, 2005

Summer time has flown by and if I new you then to take my hand and keep our secret on your own. Traveling amidst the foreign crowd the rain was soothing but the moment couldn’t last your aching brain. It must have been crazy just to think of us together, before we even met, April pulsing in my song. But oh those days when just a single note could send a rocket by and set the world on fire and mend or change your wounded mind.

This is loving you like no one else before, I mean, forget the tales, forget the magazines. I always loved the photographs of black-&-white in motion, I’d fix the rest in just a perfect place for me. There was a glorifying arrow notifying names and dates and passing faces all around the endless party. Yesterday the phone was mute, no one called to say hello, I thought I lost it all, I didn’t matter anymore.

Old school records playing new and breaking just in time to kiss you, softly spoken heart aches, easy breaking happiness. The show moved on, the buzz connecting with the flow, leaving hard core naked truth locked hard behind the doors. Little diamonds on the edges, walking up the aisle to greatness, shoes too tight and guts held-back to keep a perfect shape. I noticed eyes suspecting I was wrong, a big mistake, unfit, misplaced, too wordy, troubled and too old. What do you expect, there’s a voice that hangs around you everywhere you go and shouts: respect, respect

In my kingdom I will hold you on your falling
And in this falling I will take your hand and lead you through
And on your way your fall will turn to flying
Here’s my word to you.

New Home

December 23rd, 2005

This is just to say thanks to two amazing people, Itay (Grebulon) my new webmaster and friend, and Yishai, the original father of the site, its past and present graphic designer and an old friend by now.
Thank you guys immensely for joining this trip.

It always amazes me how well timed things are in this great design of existense. You may get frustrated some of the time, but if you sweat and kick enough, reality always knows better. So now I’m pretty cool about all my kicking and sweating this year. My new album is (almost) ready to go, and the new site is up, just on time.

Bear with me a bit, I promise to write soon, and lots of news and details about some upcoming music, albums, video clips, people and shit.

Gotta run now, more music is waiting.Oh, and have a Happy New Year.

FRIDAY SESSIONS

September 6th, 2005

JUST CAN’T GET ENOUGH

A slow, sweet September morning and plenty of dreams to do. The chiseled snaps of Bob Dylans’s mind are buzzing in the air, sort of decking my days with stars, dreams, passion, inspiration and faith.I think that a definite sense of an intense reality, whether it’s real or not, is the igniter of the song-writing faculties.

I’ve been working on two projects kind of simultaneously, and I love it. My double-album LOVE UNPLUGGED is basically almost ready to get mixed. Gotta re-do all the vocals, then add some seasoning, perk up the whole bunch and let it go. I’ve been letting it boil on its own for a while. Something I’m not used to do with my music. But it feels right this time. It’s the trombone album, in the sense that all the songs were written with the trombone in mind, and the trombone boy around, and it’s sort of wrapping the entire era, where everything felt new and exciting and VERY intensive for some two years.  It’s not simple, recording this intensity. I guess I needed to take a break from it before I final-mix it. I’m not used to taking a break from my songs before they’re actually released, pr and all. But I really like this new way of going about it all. I guess I am changing, and this change has opened up my heart to this new project.

The new project is of no name yet. It sweeps me into it like the sweetest love. Omri Levy is producing it. It’s getting me to write new songs everyday. I think this project kind of caught us both by surprise. One day we woke up and realized that we’re half way into completing this album, that we’re actually having fun, that we can’t wait to record another song, that we’re working faster than any of us thought we could, that we surprisingly agree most of the time, that Omri digs my love for this deep, chocolate Bass drum mixed with some home made strings orchestra, that we hadn’t plan on it, but we’re in love. And we just can’t get enough. Something like that. Friday Sessions would be a nice title for this album. We’re planning on hosting some friends on it too. Can’t wait.

Behind ALL I WANT

July 7th, 2005

The Glasgow sessions, sealed on an EP called ALL I WANT is being released this week, almost a year and a half after the actual sessions. It’s PERFECT for me. I know I’m usually so impatient about things, but life has it’s amazing ways of lulling me into its natural, ultimate rhythm. And it’s always right! I like these songs so much better now than even a few months ago.  I’m just sitting (and sweating) here, in front of the computer, being grateful. This is all still MAGIC for me. Music and people and the mysterious ways about it all.

Ok, let me tell you about the songs. And the people involved.

MY SECRET  ROAD – This song was originally called “The Night of The Singer-Songwriter” and had MANY words.  I wrote it in a swish. It was at a time when I felt I might have over-dosed, writing about my quirky love and age issues and all, and that things were alright out there, the revolution got it’s own way, and that I could very well pack up my music and issues and embark on a new career.  But then, a miserable slip of  a tongue of someone I knew, instantly reminded me that “war isn’t over and it ain’t gonna end”, and that there are many songs yet to be written till war is really over, on all fronts, and we can relax.

Anyway, Duncan thought it was a lousy title to a great song. He sent me to the computer, and within minutes I had a new, well shaven version of it, called: MY SECRET ROADS. It was the first song we did. Phill kept watching over us to keep them songs short. Johnny’s guitars and heart-felt notion of structure and lines, Mati’s drums and Kevin’s double bass all around me, I was bathing in true love. I couldn’t have asked for more. They were funny, and kind, and sweet and had the COOLEST, craziest accents. Duncan had the worst. He actually had to be translated to me. It went like this: Mati, originally Candian, translated Kevin. Kevin translated Johnny. And Johnny translated Duncan. Just imagine how long it takes a joke to get to me. And then they thought I was plain slow. Hmmm.  Anyway, accents never stood in the way of music. Or if they did, they probably made it better.

Btw, in concerts, I still do the long, piano driven, original version.

ALL I WANT was also fun to do. Duncan LOVED particularly the line “Time and again I wanted to kill you, time and again I wanted to please you”. He also dragged the last line to be the opening line as well. ’’I believe in love, just as long as LOVE believes in me’’. It felt like I had all the words, but I needed to rearrange them, and I tried re-locating words and breaking up whole sentences, trying to re-construct the song like a puzzle. I had all the pieces, just needed to find their perfect matchings, to get a clearer picture of the song. Oh, Johnny went wild on the guitars here. I just love the guy.

BREAK ME DOWN was well shortened as well. It lost a whole verse.  But what I really love is that we kept the ending. Which I think is the coolest part of the song. This song is the oldest of the songs, and pretty much kept its original shape.

RECORDING VOCALS was a trip. It was the first time anyone actually WORKED with me, and pretty toughly too. I loved it. Duncan was hearing stuff I couldn’t hear myself, and at one time he almost made me cry. But then he got me a bottle of wine, so I was alright. There was a beautiful snow blizzard out, and it was getting late. It was towards the end of my stay in Glasgow, and I was getting so sad to leave anxious to get it all done before I leave. We got it all down just on time. The back vocals on BREAK ME DOWN were recorded later, by Carol Lola.

And all of this wouldn’t have happened without my friends: David Kaye in Glasgow and Yaniv Davidson, in Israel. This EP is half yours. And it’s only the beginning.

We’re celebrating with a special concert, AT the ZAPPA CLUB, with my  Israeli band, Assaf, Assa, Daniel and AA Cool Schneider. Monday 25.7 at 21:30. Come and get drunk with us.

LOVE UNPLUGGED- recording notes 1

June 22nd, 2005

Woa, I cannot tell you enough, this new album has been a blast to record. It’s not finished yet, I got some vocal fixing and additions and mixing to do, but the basic tracks are all there, on all of those 18 new songs. I can’t wait to tell you about each and every song, the stories and people behind them, the BRAVE NEW beginnings and all. It’s been the start of a new era for me. But I’m holding back, so I won’t spoil things for later, when I get a better look at it, within and without. And it’s gonna take a little while anyway, till this album is ready and released. But here are some of my initial recording notes.

I haven’t slept for a few days. It’s been sucking my life, but in a real good way. The musicians on it, Assaf, Assa, AA Cool and Daniel have done an amazing job. The entire album feels more relaxed than ever before (Even Eldad, my man on THE MOVE, said that). The recording process was more relaxed than anything I had done before. The Move sprang out of me with a lot of battles and tribulations, but this one has sort of taken its natural time to happen. I mean, the musicians on it have been playing those songs with me on concerts for over a year, and the songs have penetrated their basic musical instincts. By the time we came to record them, it felt like second nature to us all. Assaf pushed me to do a live session, almost against my will, and so we did, a few months ago, at the ZAZA studios. I have to admit, I had my qualms about it all. I guess I was not in a great emotional shape those days, and there was too much sadness around. But I am so grateful for that session, so glad to have let Assaf pull me into it all. It was an intensive session of a few hours, piano, trombone, drums and guitars. I hurt my finger badly at one point, and had to play half that album with 9 fingers. I ended up at the emergency room, with excruciating pain, my finger palpitating like it had a heart of its own. It was a huge, pressing, painful call for me to take a break. I couldn’t even listen to the recording for a few months. I had to get away from it, and luckily, I had to deal with the promotion of THE MOVE, and I invested my soul in concerts.

Interestingly, now that I think of it, it gave me sometime to adjust Eran into my life. And to weave initial dreams about future productions.

A few months away from that initial live session, everything sounded so much better. My finger totally healed. I got some brand new cells and tissues on that finger, in addition to its independent heart, and I think it plays way better now. The piano actually sounded delicious on that recording. It’s the first album I play a real grand piano, and I love it. Nothing beats real good grand pianos. I guess I’m a piano girl after all.

Then came Daniel, the bass player. He was not as familiar with the material as the rest of us, but dived in pretty gracefully and humbly, and a few weeks ago he did the whole 18 of them new song, all in but a few hours. PERFECT sound.

Anyway, feeling so much better about these songs and recordings, Assa and I went back to the studio to add some guitars. Man, the man is a G. I mean, he can be weird sometimes, but he’s got soul there, and buckets of talent simmering throughout his lean and long body and fingers. He’s also so much fun to work with. Well, they were all fun to work with. I really had a blast with those guys. It was the first recording I never even freaked once. Not even when I hurt my finger.

Btw, Assa quit drinking, and I lost a party partner. Although I think that Assaf got a bit more into it recently.

Oh, I can’t wait for the album to be completed, mixeded and all. But I still have A LOT of work ahead of me. VOCALS are gonna be the toughest part.

Back to site: hadaralevin.com

EHUD MANOR

April 14th, 2005

Ever since two mornings ago, the sudden parting of Ehud Manor had been digging into my heart deeper and deeper every day. I’ve been hearing the same from everyone around, and although it has made me happy for Ehud’s sake, and for the sake of this world and the great gift of beauty he has given it, it made it difficult for me to express my very own, personal connection to this beautiful man. I guess here is my humble venue for doing just that.

Regarding my own private ways in this world, musically and otherwise, I sometimes find myself isolated, thirsty for inspiration, lost in a kind of cultural desert, yearning for a touching spark. Ehud Manor has been, for me, one of the very few guardians of my cultural oasis. And the kindest of them all. He has given me the voice of Natalie Merchant, for example, and more personally, he was one of the first believers in my music, along with Kutner,  before most everyone else. Not only did he give me a safe home to sound my music, but he kept encouraging me through the years, with his kindest calls and remarks, and playful translations of a few of my lines. He had the wisest, kindest ways of conversing with me through his interpretations, over the radio and over the phone, offering his time and work and advice and sweet comforting word anytime I ever needed. Right at my musical beginning he offered to co-operate on future projects. There was no surer demonstration of faith than that. He made me feel like the greatest star, and he crowned me with his love. He truly had faith in me, even behind my back.

When I only began performing, about some 5 years ago, and was still a quiverous, albeit admittedly adamant performer, he came to my concert with part of his family, and listened with the widest heart and with genuine interest. Even his criticism was so simple and honest and loving, that it was instantly taken in, instantly taking action within me, instantly working. He came to me after the show, freckles and all, and gave me the biggest, safest hug you can imagine. It was easy, direct, and cozy.  I knew my songs were safe in his hands and soul.

Ehud truly understood my language, my inner tongue, my personal grammar. My jokes. He understood the cultural grounds of my English, not only the technical meaning. It ain’t easy to be an English singer-songwriter in Israel, especially when WORDS are the heart of them songs. You cannot dig the soul of a song, the humorous nuances, the various digressions of personal associations, with purely a basic understanding of the language.  You have to have some wider, deeper grasp of the language, the culture it springs from. And Ehud Manor, the lover of words, the Israeli great worder of our greatest songs and musicians, did indeed dig my music, inside and out. His musical and cultural sources were immense. And he was so youthfully passionate about every little thing. His first favorite of my songs was NYU, and so he called excited to tell me that his daughter had just graduated NYU. He was so personal a writer, that his work became very universal. He was so intimate an observer, that he owned that acute sensitivity to another’s very particular otherness. Which made him very tolerant of others, open minded, and also a great translator.

I’ll miss him desperately. And yes, ‘tis my little comfort too to know that he knew how much I loved and appreciated him and his work in this world. And that he was loved and respected by so many people in his life time.

Here’s to you, here’s to music.

TAKE MY SONGS BY THEIR HANDS

March 3rd, 2005

Sayed Kashua, take my songs by their hands
and lead them though the streets of your drunken pen.

Well, strange days. Nothing feels easy, but everything seems to fall right into place. I’m more silent than ever, these days (I know some of you wouldn’t believe it), kind of intro-pensive. I’ve absorbed the various reviews of The Move, the written, the verbal, and even the unspoken ones. I try to listen to them all. Mostly it’s very interesting to see how your music reaches the other. One of the best reviews I’ve had described my music as the best sound track for sex. Better still was the launching concert, where, I was told, a few couples (of various sexual preferences), so wholesomely swept by the music and vibe, were aroused into making it right there, by the club’s toilettes. Music gets you to high places, that’s for sure.

Anyway, this is one of these slow mornings, where I got zillions of things to do, but my soul screams for food, some inspiration and vitamins. And I got them right here;  Avigail Sperber ( a filmmaker) who has just reTurned from the Berlin Film Festival, and SAGOL 59 ( a rapper). They have both linked me up back to my soul, through two great links:

One is an amazing review of one of Ryan Adams’ songs from HEARTBREAKERS, by the fabulous writer Nick Hornby. Sayed Kashua, here’s my call for you, take my songs by their hands and lead them through the streets of your drunk pen.
http://www.mcsweeneys.net/links/song/hornby.html

The other link is a site of the award winning film about
http://www.thedevilanddanieljohnston.com

Here’s a quote from Hornby’s review:

“Some people are at their best when they’re miserable. Ryan Adams’s beautiful Heartbreaker album is, I suspect, the product of a great deal of pain…On Adams’s next album, Gold, he seems to have cheered up, and though that’s good news for him, it’s bad news for me… His upbeat songs are fine, but they sound a lot like other people’s upbeat songs (you can hear the cheeriest incarnations of the Stones, Dylan and Van Morrison all over Gold); his blues gave him distinction.
“What rights do we have here? Are we entitled to ask other people to be unhappy for our benefit? After all, there are loads of us, and only one of them. And how can you be happy, really, if you are only ordinary in your happiness, but extraordinary in your grief? Is it really worth it? It sounds harsh, I know, but if you are currently romantically involved with someone with a real talent — especially a talent for songwriting — then do us all a favour and dump them. There might be a Heartbreaker — or a Blood On The Tracks or a Layla — in it for all of us. Thanks.”

Cheers!

The Move – Behind The Songs

January 7th, 2005

THE MOVE has been a great journey for me, so I was thinking of letting you know a bit of the stories and thoughts behind the songs. Just a bit, though, so I won’t blow the magic away, and also, to leave something for the press. All and all, recording The Move has been a blast. I cannot be grateful enough for the experience.

1. Rap of Faith

“It started with an after noon vodka and a dream. You had no faith in me, you spoke about the girl who played a whole song on one string. Well, I got so many notes under my skin.”

RAP OF FAITH is a rap of faith in music. Faith in Me. In my way. It starts up with an episode I remember clearly, just when I was about to embark on my music career. Then it goes on to explore some of the tender, vulnerable relationships amongst, oh well, lovers, musicians, anyone really. Of course, it all starts with one love and ends up with another.

2. Break Me Down

Love like that. He preferred European films, and I preferred Hollywood. But he always ended up coming to all my concerts. And now he’s doing his great music in Hollywood. And it’s fun having him play in my concerts too.

3. Blue Eyed Shadow

Better known as “I just wanna get laid tonight”. What can I say, love takes on a whole different look, when you’re doing music. This guy whom I loved came secretly to one of my concerts. I spotted him instantly. He appeared in the back, a shadow merged in the dark bulk of the audience, except for his clearly sparkling, recognizable blue eyes.

“You look like a top model”, I was thinking, “ and I’m just a working class hero with something to say”. I always feel my love is so misunderstood. Nothing ever beats music for me. Zappa put it perfectly: Love is not music. Music is the best. “So when I tell you that I love you, please don’t get me wrong, my music gets to choose my top ten pleasures of this world.”

4. Brooklyn Beat

That friend from song # 2, and also the one from WHAT THE FUCK,  and from many other songs, is a great singer\song writer. “There ain’t a song that gets as real as lovers racing down a record deal”. We’re definitely racing each other and he’s a great racer too.

5. The Move

Falling in love with a DJ can be SO romantic. I cannot disclose any more details. But the answers to all questions are in the song.

6. Sexual Underground

One of my favourite trombone songs. Before AA Cool came into my life, this song was a solo-piano. This is one of the first songs we played together, and where he became my musical soul mate. There’s something about AA Cool’s trombone that deeply digs the heart of my songs and responds PERFECTLY to it.

7. Music Makes No Sense

This is THE BEST version of this song so far, and the guitars of Uri Kinorot make the whole difference. I wrote this song in a moment of deep confusion, and I was holding on to music like never before, and it saved my ass, mentally, that is. Like I said, “music makes no sense, but it takes you somewhere where there’s life and love and inner jive and groove, my friend”.

8. Hot Stuff

Oh, that song is breaking my heart. “Don’t you know already, it’s a-messing with the real, that gets a deal, and all the rest falls on the way. Perhaps another chance we take, risking everything we have,getting closer to the edge, is living”. Yeah. It’s about taking REAL chances, living on the edge, and making something great out of your life. I mean, I cannot settle for less.

9. All I WANT

This song is about putting my soul on the line, in LOVE and in MY SONGS. Once again, I wouldn’t settle for less, in love or music. Yet: “ I believe in LOVE, just as long as LOVE believes in me”

10. R& B

Someone really broke my trust, left me in the cold, on the road, like a dog, all alone. But I knew:
“You gotta let it be born
Gotta MOVE it on and on.
Gotta let yourself free.
Gotta know who you ARE and BE.”

11. White Skin Bound

My first attempt at soft-rap. The lyrics will be attached separately. So many lovers have been compressed into that song, but my music, as always, takes them all.

12. Falling in Love

The best part of any relationship is the FALLING IN LOVE part of it. That oh so furtive bliss. I can’t stand it.

13. Magic Time

“No shit can pull me down.  You’re getting nowhere loving underground”. You know, when you’re in a kind of a secret or somewhat forbidden affair, and you want to break loose, and you’re willing to pay the price?

14. It ain’t Good Enough

You know it’s lonely at the top, but you want to get there anyway. You want to look at the world from the cover of a weekend magazine. You know that people always look better on the Cover than on the Middle page. And you never look back. Sometimes you just feel that nothing, not even the best love in the world, will wvwer be good enough for you.

15. A miracle at a time

Woa, that was a great spring. I fell in love with someone so TOTALLY different than me. No one gave us a chance. I’m not sure we ever did give ourselves a chance. But we enjoyed the short time we had and took our days ONE MIRACLE AT A TIME. It gave me a lot of strength and faith in my way, and inspired a few songs. I’m still taking life this way, one miracle at a time.

16. Your Smile

The sad side of the above mentioned miracle.

17. Schoziphrenia. (To produce your own album)

This song completes the heart of this album. I wrote this song the night before I started recording this album. There were a lot of nasty wars in my life those days, and I realized I was going to produce this album alone, musically, and that I needed all the strength I can get. I had a lot of sweet, inspiring and humorous rage that kept a lot of sadness away. I needed so much strength that there was no place for sadness. I kept asking myself, “do you believe that one more song will bring you back home?” I think it’s a love song to myself, and to this art of song making. It’s really perfect way to seal this album. I have a well-produced version of this song, produced by Itamar Eshpar, but I decided to use this very naked version, with piano only. And here’s the thing:
“If this music pleases you at all, my land of milk and honey,
I want to feel your love, I want to see the money.”

MORE THAN LOVE- MY OWN BOB DYLAN

December 18th, 2004

It’s been too long (for me) that I felt left out of that ball of fire, that fire of inspiration, that solid, manic, deeply driven passion, that mad stuff that makes me who I am.
To be mad and heaven-held and to know what I’m doing and to know I’m all right, that my body is free and my mind isn’t chained to the ground. It’s not about living intensely, it’s about writing songs and playing them out to people. As many people and as often as possible. It’s been too long till last night, when I started reading Bob Dylan’s autobiography and, boom, I was swished back to myself, to that place where I totally belong. What can I say, that shiny black-and-white NYC, just the way I know it, that freezing winter, and the coolest, coolest places and sounds, steaming underground and starry, starry upper life, the East Village, cutting the cold with an inner fire greater than anything that might stand on your way. Myself turning into my own kind of music. Mad man making music and the air is oh so blasting free. LOVE itself cannot even come close to it.
And no religion too. Everything, the city and an entire era is being born. Everything that happens to you, people you meet and places you go, makes a cryptically firm kind of sense. And you have a million songs in your hand. Oh, man. Last night, Bob Dylan’s Chronicles, a glass of wine and a new song in my hands, my piano and all, it felt like NYC at its best again, right here in the freezing cold of Jerusalem.

Here’s a quote:

“I wanted to play for anybody. I could never sit in a room and just play all by myself. I needed to play for people and all the time. You can say I practiced in public and my whole life was becoming what I practiced.” (Bob Dylan)

And another one:

“I’d either drive people away, or they’d come closer to see what it was all about. There were a lot of better singers and better musicians around these places but there wasn’t anybody close in nature to what I was doing. Folk songs were the way I explored the universe…” (Bob Dylan)