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Lyric of the Week: ?עד מתי (HOW MUCH LONGER?)

Bo nidfok’ta rosh ba-kir[1]

Give a listen and I’ll assault your ears

How much longer?

Longer, longer

Will we vegetate here

Tune in now and I’ll assault your ears with some mideastern macaronic verse

Al tidfok’ta rosh ba-kir[2] it could have been so much worse

We all know who the bad guys really are, how come those bad guys never die

How much longer?

Longer, longer

Will we sit here and petrify

Will we do something else but cry.


Goddamn thieves, goddamn thieves

Goddamn thieves stole away my laila[3]

Goddamn robbers, blasted robbers

D’hil robbers[4]stole away my night.


Did you see that halia la-Allah[5] our young friend is going out with?

Did you see the way she steps all over him, ayzo min[6] natzlanit.[7]

Try our best to latzet me-ha-rosh hazeh but in the end we still fall into the trap

How much longer?

Longer longer

Will we be freiers[8]for the JAPs.

Until our nerves collapse.


How much longer will we shmor shin gimmel[9] in the middle of the cold dark night?

How much longer will we sit in the tzafon[10]instead of being karov la-bayit[11]?

How much longer will we eat hummus from the gazlan[12] to the tune of the cannon blast?

I’m not willing

Ya hush-shilling[13]

How much longer will this last?!?

The time just doesn’t pass.


Can’t get the levantine out of me

Even though I’m amerika’ee[14]

It’s driving all the hevra[15] crazy

And I don’t know why-ee

Nishbar ha-seven,[16] oleh ba-esh[17]

Don’t bother counting the time

How much longer May hamesh[18]?

You’ll just be wasting your time.


All the time it took

B’hiyyat abbouk[19]

For us to get this far

How much longer?

Longer longer

Will we wish on falling stars

This is a prison with no bars!



©2020 The Hesh Inc.


[1]Let’s bang our heads against the wall (Hebrew). [2]Don’t bang your head against the wall (Hebrew). [3]Night (Hebrew). [4] D’hil rabak—enough already, leave me alone (Arabic). [5]Lord have mercy, or let G-d handle it (Judeo-Arabic). [6]What kind of a thing is this (Hebrew). [7]User, in female gender (Hebrew). [8]Suckers (Hebrew, from Yiddish). [9]Do guard duty at the base’s main gate (Hebrew). [10]North, i.e., the northern part of the country (Hebrew). [11]Close to home, i.e., doing your military service on a base near your hometown instead of at the fringes of the country (Hebrew). [12]Food truck (Hebrew). [13]Very much so (viz., “worth less than a shilling,” Arabic expression dating back to the British mandate era). [14]American (Hebrew). [15]Gang, circle of friends (Hebrew, Yiddish). [16] Nishbar ha-zayin, i.e., broken, beyond exhausted (viz., my dick is broken); the numerical value of the letter zayin is seven (Hebrew). [17]Going up in flames (Hebrew). [18]May ‘5, i.e., May 1985, the class in which the writer did his IDF basic training. The annual May class is known for scooping up all the stragglers and outliers of society as well as others who weren’t able to do basic training during the rest of the annual cycle with the usual high-school graduates (Hebrew). [19]For the life of your dad (Arabic).



Some mideastern macaronic verse.

I first came across the term "macaronic verse" in The Poet's Manual and Rhyming Dictionary by Frances Stillman (1965), which I had received as a gift from my friend and musical compatriot Izzy Kieffer in 1985 and took with me wherever I happened to be serving during my military service. The volume has been a faithful servant and companion throughout my early songwriting years, and I still have it on the shelf above my desk as I write this. The term itself refers to "a ludicrously jumbled and distorted combination of several languages." Being surrounded by fellow soldiers who hailed from a diverse group of ethnic backgrounds, and in an environment in which the slang itself was made up of expressions from several languages, it seemed inevitable that I would at some point write a comic song about the grunt's life in the mishmosh of languages I heard combined with the ones I spoke.


The music is largely a composite of several songs in the musika mizrahit genre (the pop music of Jews in Israel whose origins are from middle eastern countries) that were popular during my service. I myself do not come from such a background; I'm as western/Ashkenazi as they come, but again, the environment I was in served up a tasty stew, once I was ready to try it.


#lyrics #english #hebrew #arabic #slang #mishmosh


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