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Opinion The prince in the sequined suit managed to become Israel's pop star, but in his own way Israel today


Zvika Pick was like a red sheet against the institutional culture of the military bands • With his enormous talent he connected Natan Yonatan and the discotheque, between Alexander Penn and the Penn girls, on the way to his own cultural revolution

From the moment it decided to renew itself

, Hebrew culture knew that the way to shake the hearts of the crowd was through the fields of the hymn.

Bialik wrote for enthusiastic intellectuals, Brenner for melancholy intellectuals, but the kindergarten children, the people of the youth movements, the pioneers in the fields and swamps, needed songs that could be sung.

Thus, alongside the serious and important literary work of the revival of the Hebrew language as a minor language, the renewed culture also created many folk songs and hymns.

This gave rise to a cultural peculiarity unique to Hebrew culture.

We all have folk songs engraved in us that were actually created as a native lesson.

Songs at their core contained all the basic values ​​and traits from which the Zionist ethos was created, and at the same time, songs were engraved in our souls that told the story of the rise and gathering of the Jewish people.

In this way the Hebrew singer also contained the essence of the Zionist myth, the song of hope and being of the Hebrew-Israeli people, the song of us.

From the cheeseboard to the roosters and the military bands, for better or for worse, the Hebrew singer was primarily a military love singer.

Even "song for peace" is played on military guitars.

In derision or suppression, in parody or fully intentional, in the first four decades of the State of Israel, the popular singer reflected the voice of Israel from Jerusalem, what is rightly called an Israeli song.

The nationalization of the singing field created a unique but uniform culture.

It had many good sides from "And the melody that you neglected in vain repeats" to "Your forehead is crowned with black gold", many of the Hebrew hymns were based on the composition of poets' songs that were presented to the masses as pop songs, something that has no equivalent in the western world.

But the side effect was that in front of all the songs of "the beautiful, old and good Land of Israel", all the non-institutional creators were placed as the creators of "the ugly, contemporary and bad Land of Israel".

The fervor with which the wars of Ofra vs. Jordana, Zohar vs. Eric, and Shoshana vs. Yaffe broke out were far beyond musical preference.

The field of the Hebrew singer was the field of battle over the nature of the present and the future of Israeli identity.

"The popular music created in Israel embodies, perhaps more than any other art form, the striving for the establishment of Israeli cultural uniqueness, the controversies surrounding the definition of 'Israeliness'", as defined by Professors Sarosi and Regev in their book "Popular Music and Culture in Israel".

The choice of who will enter a military band and who will get to be broadcast on the radio also determined who will receive support, budgeting and the transformation of their work into an iron sheep asset forged in the government melting pot.

This created an illusory situation in which for many years the Hebrew singer, the creation of a minority close to the plate, officially functioned as "popular music", while the most popular music in Israel - the "Eastern" - was seen as "underground" and was the field of dreams of young lovers in the most beautiful moments of life

The son of immigrants from Poland wanted to be a pop star in order to be Israeli - but in his own way, photo: Sa'ar Yaakov

A lot of obituaries were written this week

about Zvika Pick, and rightly so.

Pick left a body of work that, in any revised place, would have awarded him the Israel Prize years ago.

But he did not win the recognition of the establishment for his work, since for many years, Pick challenged the pop elite of the Hebrew in Israel.

He was the pop singer of the people, not the establishment.

Pick, born in Poland and brought up on classical music, had all the data to be another one of the "good guys" that the cultural commissars liked to cultivate.

He could have joined a military band, danced raw and sang "Flowers in a Cane", or "Only in Israel", but fate wanted otherwise.

As a teenager he fell in love with the pop music of the time - rock and roll.

Since time immemorial, the spotlights of the pop world have attracted the shy moths, the strange, abnormal and rejected creatures, who discovered that as soon as they put on a guitar and sang the fragments of their souls with a sweet melody, suddenly the strange became cool and the rejected became an idol.

The son of immigrants from Poland wanted to be a pop star in order to be Israeli - but in his own way.

He did not serve in a military band but started his career in the rhythm bands of the 1960s.

Contrary to popular belief, the bands did not operate only in Ramla, but throughout the country.

For the rockers from the geographical and social periphery in Israel, Ramla functioned as an alternative Tel Aviv.

Peek was catapulted to stardom at a young age, after starring in the local version of the musical "Hair".

He was then signed to a major mainstream record label.

In what at the time was seen as professional suicide, Peak left the record company, which dictated a musical direction he did not want, and decided to make it on his own.

He produced his albums with his own money, kept the rights to all his songs, and distributed his work at the beginning through the Azulai brothers' company Kolifon from Jaffa, a company whose catalog was mostly based on "oriental" music.

Peake turned himself into a pop star with the looks, costumes and make-up of an alien who had just descended from Mars.

1,800 degrees different from the stars of the era, who seem to have just emerged from the threshing floor and the winery and came to sing.

The challenge aroused the masters of the establishment and their servants in the culture army.

Peake was derided as a cheap, talentless gimmick, and was generally seen as a joke.

But there were those who heard and understood the innovation he proposed for an Israeli identity liberated from the army and sexually liberated.

Zvika Pick.

When they didn't accept him at the gate as he is - he entered through the window. Photo: Moshe Shay

Throughout the 1970s

, Peak was the king of the music of the periphery.

When they didn't accept him at the gate as he is - he entered through the window.

The window was called the hit parade, and "Lahiton".

Pick was the idol of the people and especially the women that Israel's Cultural Hall did not contain.

He was the prince of the city of youth, and the creator of the soundtrack of the housing estates and neighborhoods.

The generation that didn't know what a "life-size poster of Zvika Peak, in four parts" is, will never understand what a dreaming periphery is.

And the dreams of the "flowers", the "chahalot" and all the "Abu Agila", i.e. my aunts and neighbors, had music that took them higher, higher, higher above the broken embossments and the despairing works, and this soundtrack sparkled like Zvika Pick's sequined suits.

Peak struck the gatekeepers with their weapons.

When he was accused of shallow and stupid lyrics, he used his enormous talent for melodies that settle in your mind and don't leave, and connected Nathan Yonatan and the disco, between Alexander Penn and the Penn girls.

A phenomenal achievement.

But like Icarus, Hebbia flew and reached the sun too soon.

He was among the first artists in Israel to come out of the political closet, as an active member of the Likud Center.

And this was already one step too far for the Israeli cultural establishment, which did not turn around after the upheaval.

In the 1980s his star waned.

Depressed Israel between the Lebanon War and the Intifada began to rejoice in the "Eastern" music that exploded at that time. 

Only when the generation grew up that forgot Mapai's culture of educational austerity and wanted a normal, abundant and sparkling pop culture, Pik began his journey to the center of the new Israeli culture: cooperation with the Migvat subjects, winning the Eurovision Song Contest in '98, being published as a judge on "Kohav Nold", The musical "Mary Lou" and the reality shows.

He became a maestro.

His pop prophecies have been fully fulfilled.

The children who listened to his sounds created music that was not a Hebrew or Mizrahi singer, but Israeli pop.

An authentic sound composed of all its postcards, parts and fragments.

Peake's life created the bridge from a country where your most important life decision was where and to whom you were born, to a country where talent states: "There is no chorus - dance."

Along the pick-pop bridge dance dozens of stars of the era, and consciously or not, all of them are his cultural sons and daughters.

The fact that Peak was eulogized as a cultural pillar in his death is the Israel (Men and Women) Award, which he won due to his pioneering, his enormous talent and the contribution of his work to shaping the renewed Israeli culture and identity. 

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Source: israelhayom

All news articles on 2022-08-19

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