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"Land in the Middle" - a song I wrote in 1978 (intro, lyrics, and chords)

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I hope to be able to post this song later as a sound-file. Meanwhile, here are the spoken introduction, the lyrics (very slightly updated to reflect passage of time), and the chord progression. I welcome any feedback.


LAND IN THE MIDDLE
(copyright 1978, Hayyim Feldman)

[Intro spoken over fingerpicked Am chord:]
This is a song I wrote for the 30th anniversary of both the founding of the State of Israel and the Palestinian Naqba (catastrophe), two sides of a single event in 1948. The last line of the song mentions "the Jubilee." This refers to a Torah law from Va-Yikra (Leviticus), chapter 25, that designates every fiftieth year a "Yovel," or in English, Jubilee year. For the land, it was a year of rest from cultivation and harvest; landholdings amassed by the wealthy were redistributed to their former owners; bondservants were released; and all debts were forgiven. A few selected verses:

25:1
And you shall sanctify the fiftieth year, and shall call out freedom throughout the land
for all who dwell in her
; it shall be a Yovel (a Jubilee) for you, and you shall return,
each man to his holding, and each man to his family shall return
.

25:17
And you shall not wrong one another, but you shall revere your G!d,
for I, [the Holy Name], am your G!d.

25:19
And the land will give her fruit and you shall eat to satisfaction,
and you shall dwell safely upon her.

25:20
And the land shall not be sold in perpetuity because the land is Mine,
for you are sojourners and residents with Me.


So here it is, "Land in the Middle," a song for two voices:

-------- Beginning of song --------

[Both voices (1st chord progression):]
Am . . . . . . . . . . . G(6) . . . . . . . . .
I love a land in the middle of the earth
. . C . . . . . . . . . . . Em
a land so proud and warm
Am . . . . . . . . . . . G . . . . . . . . E7
I love a land in the middle of the earth
. . F7 . . . E . . . . . . Am
a land so strong and torn.

- -

[First voice:]
My family fled a war o'er that piece of earth
a thousand years gone by
Like a wind-driven leaf we were swept across the earth
but the memories didn't die.

They spoke about the land in the middle of the earth
wherever we did roam
They said we would return to our people's land of birth
they said we'd have a home.

(2nd chord progression)
Am . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . G . . . . . . .
Then I heard a call from the end of time,
. G7 . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . E7
"Sisters, brothers, build us up a life!"
. . . . Am (modal) . . . . . . G . . . . . . . . . E7
And I ran to the land to inherit what was mine
. F7 . . . . E . . . . . Am
I found it torn with strife.

- -

[Second voice (1st chord progression):]
I love a land not far from here
that's where I was born
I haven't been there in 30 years [update: 60 or many ]
but I know where I belong.

My father worked the land like his father had before
a good land now grown old
'Til the strangers came, said that we'd have to leave
our own home had been sold.

(2nd chord progression)
I was only four when we fled the war
but the mem'ries cling like dust
And I will return and we will return
and I will do what I must.

- -

[Both voices (1st chord progression):]
I am the land in the middle of the earth
that they're fighting to redeem
One learned to call me Isra'el
the other, Falastin.

I am the land in the middle -
they tell me that I'm blessed
When the Jubilee comes in 20 years
I'll have a time to rest.

When the Jubilee comes in 20 years
I'll have a time to rest.

[update: If the Jubilee comes each 50 years
When's my time to rest? ]

-------- End of song --------

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Comment by Hayyim Feldman on August 24, 2008 at 5:33am
Thank you all for your comments.

Marc, you are very kind.

Davinca, for the purpose of this song I started counting toward the jubilee year from 1948, but that's not the actual religious yovel. I'll try to get a microphone for my computer soon; I think that's all I'm lacking to be able to post the song on my profile page here. I would be very honored and moved if you were to sing it in Wien (the only place where, as you know, I once briefly earned my livelihood as a musician). Maybe one of the other Frauen in Schwarz would sing the second voice?

Aviva, I'm familiar with shmita, which designates every 7th year for the land to rest and debts to be forgiven, but I went with the yovel because of a few additional elements (found in bold font in the verses above) that seem to me to make it a more precise metaphor for ending the I/P conflict: 1) the proclamation of freedom; 2) the return of all alienated lands to their proper families; 3) the call not to do injustice to one another; and 4) the reminder that none of us really own the land, we are temporary guests in it at G!d's pleasure. But you are quite right that we needn't wait 50 years - especially now that it's already been 60 since 1948!
Comment by davinca on August 23, 2008 at 11:22am
Yes Aviva - yes we can (speaking as a committed engaged citizen of the world)!
Comment by Aviva Weisgal on August 23, 2008 at 11:14am
We shouldn't have to wait 50 years to correct a wrong, forgive a debt, or adopt the Golden Rule http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Shmita.
As in the year of the Shmita, we should let this blood soaked land rest, and recover in order to offer us all that it has. And we can share, we must!
Comment by davinca on August 23, 2008 at 10:39am
So the Jubilee was in 1998?
And the next will be in 2048?

A very beautful song based on holy text - I have no religious confession, but whenever I find something true for myself I feel moved, there is a resonance!

I would like to hear it soon, as I am playing guitar myself and could teach myself to sing it on our vigils of "Frauen in Schwarz" in Vienna.

Rolf Verleger, a German religious Jew and a neurologist and psychatrist wrote a fantastic book: "Israels Irrweg: Eine jüdische Sicht" (Israels meander: A jewish point of view) about the Zionist building of Israel with a lot of background information from the point of a dissident Jewish Voice and with a lot of quoting holy scriptures and wise Rabbies. I deeply appreciate his honesty and his devotion to his belief and people. Fortunately I know some Jews like him!
Unfortunately this book is only available in German language!
Comment by Marc Gopin on August 23, 2008 at 7:05am
you have a deep soul. i know you are living and breathing the hopes you have for justice on this strange holy land. warm regards, marc

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