This category is about pieces of music that I once heard but never was able to find. Or something I had, then lost. Then after a long time, I suddenly found it. What a joy 🙂
The most fun scenario is the hunt. I overhear something – say on the radio or TV – I like it but don’t know what it is. Shazam is not always at hand and sometimes it doesn’t recognize the piece (especially that I tend to like more esoteric music). The show host does not always tell what the song is. So there I am, just heard something cool, want to add it to my library but how can I find it? What is it? And so the hunt begins. Trying any trick I can think of. Maybe find the show online, then I can play it until I reach the piece and Shazam it. Pick up phrases in the lyrics while listening and Google them. Hear some partial info about the piece like the artist’s name, but not the piece title, then search. The hunt is fun, like a treasure hunt, and even more satisfying if it’s successful.
So stand by for some hunting stories. And as usual, you are welcome to share yours.
Back in the 70’s, Israel was introduced to a new and very unique media phenomenon: The Voice of Peace – a floating radio station. It was located on a boat, which was stationed in the Mediterranean, just outside Israeli territorial waters. The owner was Abie Nathan – an Israeli pacifist, who used the station to broadcast his relentless message of peace, much to the chagrin of the Israeli government (hence the positioning of the boat outside territorial waters). The station brought a mix of pacifist material and really really great music, all in English. The music was the latest and greatest in pop/rock, with modern-style DJs, something that was completely new in old-fashioned and conservative Israel. Every new hit in the world – we first heard it on the Voice of Peace and only weeks (sometimes months) later on Israeli stations. I know that as a teen, my generation simply abandoned Israeli radio stations and made The Voice of Peace our new home. We came for the music and got an earful of peace. My generation was never before so close to “abroad” as this station made us feel.
Naturally, since the goal of the station was to deliver the message of peace, it offered an ample daily dose of peace and anti-war rhetoric and music. One example that comes easily to mind: Give Peace A Chance:
There was, though, another song that was played on The Voice of Peace that made a great impression on me. It was a harsh criticism against “war-happy” governments, not mincing words. For a country like Israel that brought its children up on the ethos of heroism in war, the military as our defender and savior and our great leaders, who know how to protect us from the bad guys etc., hearing a song that decreed the leaders as cowards and criminals, sounded almost as blasphemy. Listening to the song felt almost like doing something illegal and associating with some sort of a criminal underground. But at the same time it already sowed the first seeds of doubt in my mind. Maybe our leaders are not so virtuous? Maybe there is another way?
I knew nothing about the song – not the name, not the poet, not the artist. It was a female artist and I was just fascinated by her deep, powerful alto, which made the message all that more ominous. When the Voice of Peace ceased operations in 1993, the song was gone for me. Not knowing anything about it, I had no way of finding it. But I never forgot it and always wondered about it and hoped someday to rediscover it. It took many years but I did, only a few years ago. To my surprise, it turned out to be a song by Bob Dylan: Masters of War.
Somehow that version by that mysterious lady was so good, it never occurred to me it wasn’t originally hers. Well, once I identified the song, it didn’t take long to find her cover. It was Odetta:
So here you are. I leave it to you to decide which version you like better.
On a side note: I just found out that several Voice of Peace veterans resurrected the station in a more modern setting – as an Internet streaming radio station by the same name. The Voice of Peace lives.
TV Channel 1 of the Israeli Broadcasting Authority has been running a Friday weekly news magazine forever. It still runs. The show has a regular item called: The World in a Minute. As you probably guess, it shows a rapid succession of events from around the world in 1 minute – things which are not important enough to have their own story. From the start and for many years, the item played this mysterious melody as background. The melody caught my attention right from the start and I was always curious what it was. What was its name? Who wrote it? It was a powerful and fascinating tune. Back then, I couldn’t think of a way to find out (and I guess it wasn’t that important).
Then, after several years, they changed the melody and the mystery tune was gone. For years I wondered about it? Will I ever know? Will I ever be able to add it to my music collection? Sort of like a lost love. That was in the 70s and 80s.
Fast forward to around 2010. I had already been living in the US for many years. I was sitting one night in my home office. My wife was watching TV in the living room and I could overhear it. Suddenly, I heard it! The mystery melody that I had not heard for so many years! I jumped like I had been bitten by a snake and rushed to see what the TV was playing. It was a commercial for Marshall’s Stores! Some advertiser decided that that was the most appropriate music to play. Can’t think why.
I still didn’t know what that piece was (TV commercials don’t show credentials) but I had a lead! A couple of hours of intense Internet search and Eureka! I found it!. Memorial by the British composer Michael Nyman. Finally I found it. Lost and found. I also discovered that the piece was actually 12 minutes long – the Channel 1 segment only played one minute. A very powerful creation. If it irks you some when you listen to it, it’s not surprising. After all it is a commemoration of a tragedy. What do you think about it? How does it make you feel?