It’s no simple twist of fate that on his 70th birthday next week, about a month
before the real Bob Dylan shows up in Tel Aviv for his June 20 performance at
Ramat Gan stadium, a whole slew of his local music admirers are turning out to
pay tribute to the musical legend.
‘Doing Dylan,’ taking place at the
Barby Club on May 24, will feature some leading singer/songwriters like Yuval
Banai, Micha Sheetrit, Hemi Rodner and Tamar Eisenman, the evening’s musical
director, performing their favorite Dylan songs – both in their original English
and in Hebrew versions. Sweetening the pot, at the end of the evening, two
tickets to Dylan’s Ramat Gan show will be raffled off.
artist who claims to be a singer/songwriter has been profoundly affected by
Dylan, whether they know it or not,” said musicologist and Israel Radio reporter
Benny Dudkevitch last week, explaining how Dylan almost single-handedly changed
the language of music through his groundbreaking work in the 1960s.
one point, all popular Israeli music was derived from the army troupes and
bands. According to Dudkevitch, Dylan’s blueprint showed everyone from
Shalom Hanoch and Arik Einstein to Kaveret and Mati Caspi that there was a
different way to look at and create music that went beyond mere
That blueprint is still relevant for following generations
of artists, said Maya Isacowitz, a 23- year-old singer/songwriter who released
her debut album Safe and Sound last year and will be performing at the Dylan
tribute next week.
“There’s something unique and special in his music
that’s timeless,” said Isacowitz, the Israeli-born daughter of South African
immigrants to Israel.
“The experience of looking for songs for this show
and digging for material that catch me has been amazing. A song like ‘Blowing in
the Wind’ has been sung so many times, it’s really kind of chewed up already.
But I gave it another chance, started singing it, and was really moved by the
“And a song like ‘I Want You’ – I’d never really listened
carefully to the lyrics, but they are so incredible and poetic. It makes you
imagine and think, like good music should. The melodies too, people call them
simple but they’re simple in a way that really goes deep.”
be singing a “surprisingly groove-oriented” version of that classic Dylan tune
from his 1966 landmark album Blonde on Blonde, along with another song she
insisted remain a surprise.
Isacowitz, who performs around the country
with her band, sometimes featuring her father Peter as a special guest on
harmonica (she performed at the Jacob’s Ladder festival this past weekend),
credits her dad with exposing her to Dylan’s music as a child.
“I heard a
lot of him when I was really small, but I’m sure I didn’t know it was Dylan,”
“It wasn’t until I was older and even more so, in the last few
weeks that I realized that some songs that I thought were by other artists were
really cover versions of Dylan songs. I’ve been looking at YouTube clips, my dad
gave me a long list of songs and I really fell in love with a few of
ANOTHER FEATURED performer at next week’s tribute didn’t need a
tutorial on Dylan’s career to get up to speed. A decade ago, 33-year-old Ariel
Kleiner was part of a band called Project Gumiya, which released a Hebrew album
of Dylan songs translated by linguist and fellow band member Noam Faust called
The group will be reuniting without Faust, who now lives in
France, to revisit some of the songs on the CD like “Senor,” “Queen Jane
Approximately,” and of course, “Idiot Wind,” as well as perform some newer tunes
recently translated by Faust like “Red River Shore” from Tell Tale Signs, the
acclaimed volume eight of the ‘Bootleg Series’ which covers material Dylan
recorded between 1989 and 2006.
“We released Idiot Wind for Dylan’s 60th
birthday, and now we’re playing for his 70th,” said Kleiner.
“The CD went
out of print the first year – and people always ask where they can get it. When
Tamar [Eisenman] called me and asked if we wanted to be involved in the show, I
thought that this would be a good time to re-release it,” he said, adding that
the Project was planning to perform additional Dylan tribute shows in the
“We’re going to tackle all kinds of songs. Noam just today sent
me the translation to ‘Ring Them Bells’ – what a great song!” According to
Kleiner, Dylan’s appeal is still so strong due to the way he delivers his
material as much as the actual songs.
“The poetry and the way he sings is
just fascinating. I love the Bootleg series because you can hear
different versions of songs, and how he phrases things differently which changes
their meaning or their tone,” he said.
Translator Faust, in a lukewarm
online review of a Dylan show in France in 2007, wrote, “I’ve never really
managed to pin down the reason why, but to me his lyrics, together with his
performance, are the best example of magic in popular music.”
Isacowitz said she hoped to be able to see Dylan’s show in Ramat Gan next month,
Kleiner admitted that he was satisfied listening to the master’s records and
watching his clips.
“I don’t know what people are expecting, but they
might be disappointed,” he said.
“I think there’s a kind of disconnect
between him and his audience.”
That desired connection will probably be
in full circuit at Dylan’s Tel Aviv birthday party next week. The simple twist
of fate might be that the Israeli tribute to Dylan may prove to be more
satisfying – and less expensive – than the upcoming concert by the legend himself.