“Changes in Screaming Patterns,” the second studio album from Ha’Haverim Shel Natasha, one of the seminal Israeli bands of the early 1990s, came out as I started high school. I couldn’t have asked for a better soundtrack. If you’ve done high school right, you know that it’s about thrusts of hope dashed by stabs of pain; and letting yourself feel so wonderfully vulnerable even though you know with a calm sense of clarity that you’re about to get savagely hurt very soon; and about struggling to hold on to those brief moments of insight that float like beautiful and ephemeral soap bubbles amid your youthful delirium. And that, more or less, is what the album sounded like. Even the happy songs, to paraphrase a good line from a great movie about a sublime musician, sounded sad. If you were a teenager in 1991, had your earliest memories shaped by the war in Lebanon, and looked into young adulthood anticipating not much more than the same struggle that scarred your father and his before him, you needed your rock n’ roll to be on the moody side, and the Natashas delivered.
Ours is not so different a moment in time, as far as the balance of despair goes, which is why I was thrilled to come across this English-language cover, by Hadara Levin Areddy, to one of that album’s key songs. Areddy is one of Israel’s most fascinating musicians; at 53, she’s produced 14 albums, all different, all fascinating. Her voice is built on that bedrock of sober sadness that assures you that no matter how clever or elegant her lyrics, she’s telling you God’s honest truth. Add to that the unhurried and earnest sound perfected by the best bands of the era—think The Afghan Whigs in their prime—and you’ve got the sort of powerful and contemplative and unbearably beautiful song that makes you drop everything else you’re doing and just listen. So listen to Hadara Levin Areddy tell it like it is: “Over one infected sec / I thought I felt the ship of sorrow / sinking in the deepest blue of hopes and wine.” Amen, sister, and a happy Tuesday to all.