Arik Einstein: Six essential songs

A small selection from the vast musical catalogue left behind by Israel’s trailblazing rock singer, who died late Tuesday

Arik Einstein (photo credit: Youtube Screenshot)
Arik Einstein (photo credit: Youtube Screenshot)

For decades, his music was the soundtrack of Israel — at times aching and tender, at others humorous, sometimes frenzied, always distinctive and distinctively Israel.

A very reluctant celebrity, Arik Einstein’s gentle baritone moved across material that reflected his childhood in Tel Aviv, his optimism, his humility, his love of life.

Here are six essential Einstein tracks, selected from the 40 or so albums he released through the decades of his career.

There are dozens more we could have chosen, songs that have left an indelible impression upon Israel.

“Yehezkel,” a bomba of a prophet, comes from his stint with the poppy High Windows, a trio whose only album was released just before the 1967 Six Day War.

Co-written with Miki Gavrielov about four years later, “Ani Ve’Atah” remains arguably his best-known song, a beautifully simple melody about changing the world.

“Hofim” (Beaches) comes from 1976, from a series of albums he made heavily featuring traditional Israeli music dedicated to the beauty of the land.

“Oof Gozal” (Fly away, little bird) is another collaboration with Gavrielov, tracing a parent’s conflicted feelings as the young chicks leave the nest, as they must, to chart their own course amid life’s dangers.

Immediately after the assassination of Yitzhak Rabin in 1995, Einstein released “Zeh Pitom Nafal Aleha” (It suddenly fell upon her), an outpouring of grieving empathy with Rabin’s widow Leah.

And just before the turn of the millennium, he released an album together with Shalom Hanoch that included “Kol Ehad Rotzeh” — “Everybody wants to be” … a singer, an actor, a clown, a critic.

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