Lyric of the Week: SHIVTA
49 klicks south of the nearest town
7 away from the border
Nothing but sand and rocks for miles around
Light-years away from any water
The windblown dust sticks to everything
The heat can break the strongest man
There's nothing here but suffering
Get out of here while you still can
It's the second most desolate place in the land
It's your last stand
It's the middle of nowhere
Why would anyone put down roots here
Beyond the wildest frontier
Come nightfall the cannons boom
As the war games progress
And you can't find any room
To put your mind to rest
It's the second most depressing hole in the nation
Shivta, Shivta, Shivta (FOOY!)
Shivta's no place to be
Get out while you still can . . .
Get out while you still can
Shivta, Shivta, Shivta (PTOOY!)
Shivta eats you up inside
Nowhere nowhere to run to
Nowhere nowhere to hide
©2019 The Hesh Inc.
Shivta is the location of the Israel Defense Forces field artillery school (I don't think I'm really compromising any security by saying this, since it is clearly visible on Google Earth). I did several short stints there during the course of my service—advanced training and several regimental and group-level field maneuvers. You can really feel like you're cut off from the rest of the world in a place like that, and I often did. The weekly phone call home was a lifeline to sanity. (I often say that if social media existed when I did my service, I'd have had an easier time of it all.) Most of the time the weather is hot, dry, and dusty, but for two weeks out of the year, usually in December, it rains almost incessantly; also when the dust storms blow in from the south, you can be knee-deep and coated in sand by the time the whole thing is over. And wouldn't it be my dumb stupid luck—I happened to be there during both of these phenomena.
As for the song ... I wrote it during an artillery group maneuver in the summer of 1987. (If you are an aficionado of "old school" Jewish music, you can sing the last two stanzas to the tune of "Achat Sha'alti" ... figure it out.)
I call it the "second most godforsaken place in the land" because of something one of my friends serving at an infantry base further down the highway, deeper into the desert, told me once: "In Shivta, the flowers stick their heads out of the ground, sniff the air, and say 'eh, it's hot and dry here, but I can deal.' Where I am, though, the flowers stick their heads out of the ground and die right away."