David Broza chatted, told stories and grinned widely as he strummed his way through the latest Times of Israel Presents event, a conversation Tuesday night with editor-in-chief David Horovitz at Jerusalem’s Beit Avi Chai.
Broza, 62, has spent the last 40-plus years making music, writing and collaborating on songs in Hebrew, English, Spanish and Arabic, drawing on his family history, personal stories, and dreams for Israel.
“I never thought about being a musician,” said Broza, who began his career as an artist.
Born in Haifa and having spent his childhood in Tel Aviv, Broza moved with his family to Spain when he was 12, and lived there through most of his high school years, with some time also spent in England, before he decided to return to Israel and serve in the army in the mid-1970s.
It wasn’t the most auspicious army career, as he was assigned to guard an army base in Ramat Gan.
“I had nothing to write home about,” he recalled, laughing.
His loneliness prompted him to play guitar in local teahouses, receiving tea and biscuits in return for his performances of songs by Paul Simon, Bob Dylan and Neil Young. Those concerts eventually led Broza to perform for reservists in far-flung army bases, and helped him get reassigned as a guest artist in an air force entertainment troupe.
That was in 1975. A couple of years later, he and poet Yonatan Geffen wrote “Yihye Tov” (“It Will be Good”), on the cusp of the 1977 peace negotiations with Egypt.
The song became a hit, one that Broza said he performs nearly every day, sometimes several times a day.
The song’s words still resonate in Israel 40 years later, said Horovitz.
“It’s called life. I wish I didn’t have to sing it,” retorted Broza, referring to the plaintive, albeit insistently optimistic, lyrics about hopes for peace.
Yet the song has also been Broza’s ticket to success and a long musical career.
“I’ve been very lucky,” he said. “I’m still singing that song.”
He’s also singing dozens of other songs, and performing around the world. Broza told stories of opening for Van Morrison under less than ideal circumstances, and of being told to keep his distance from Bob Dylan when opening for that musical hero. Dylan ended up tapping him on the shoulder and telling him he played the guitar “like a machine gun.”
Broza does, in fact, wield quite a hold on his guitar, his fingers strumming hard during songs, sometimes raising it up for a grand finish.
He played his guitars at the end of the conversation, offering up some of his best hits, including “Bedouin Love Song,” “Hakeves Hashisha Asar,” “Ha’isha She’iti,” “East Jerusalem / West Jerusalem,” and, of course, the encore, “Yihye Tov.”
Join us for the next event in the Times of Israel Presents series:
Eps 1 & 2 (English subtitles)
With Nefesh B’Nefesh & the Jerusalem Press Club
Wednesday, May 30 at 7.15pm
Tickets 60 NIS (50 NIS advance) HERE
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