All that you have is your soul (Tracy Chapman).

Monday, 29 September 2008

Shanah Tovah

I'd like to wish anyone who is celebrating a happy, healthful and peaceful new year.
Shanah Tovah!

Sunday, 28 September 2008

Kol Nidre 2008 Style

Somebody Up There Likes Him

I was truly sorry to hear that Paul Newman had died. Then I thought about the first film I could identify him with and it came to me in a flash - "Exodus". Ari Ben Canaan himself. Then Butch Cassidy, The Sting, Cool Hand Luke, The Hustler....

What a guy!

It then occurred to me that Paul Newman was so much more than just an actor. This man did something worthwhile. He actually put his money where his mouth was and set up the Hole-In-The-Wall camps. He changed peoples' lives. He didn't just take their minds on a little cinematic trip, he gave them memories that lasted so much longer than the average screening time of one his movies.

I remember going through a period in my teens when I couldn't get enough of Paul Newman's movies - whether it was Butch Cassidy, The Sting, The Verdict or even Exodus. I just loved this guy in a way that only a man can love another man without it being any way sexual.

I don't think I ever lost my admiration for him. His easy charm, effortless acting and all round coolness were things that I could only aspire to emulate. He was like Steve McQueen, another favourite, but funnier.

And now he's gone and all we've got left are the movies - but for some others, their grandfather's friend who was terminally ill spent a wonderful few days at the expense of Mr Newman and hell, isn't that more important than watching a movie, even a great one at that?

Friday, 26 September 2008

My Daughter, The TV Superstar

Amongst all the anticipation of Macca's concert, something much more important was taking place.

Yesterday afternoon, Dassi's school was privelaged to hold a very special lunchtime session in the hall. It turns out that one of the kids in Dassi's year is first cousin to Greg Chamitoff, one of the astronauts aboard the International Space Station.

The school had a link-up with the space station and the kids were invited to ask questions, whilst the whole event was filmed by both the BBC and ITV television networks.

To our delight, we saw our eldest daughter on TV, sitting there in the audience, as part of the feature on the "London Tonight" programme at 22.30

Apparently, she was even featured on a close up in a earlier programme which we unfortunately missed! As far as I know, this is the first time she has ever appeared on television, so it was an especially proud moment. Well done Dassi!

McCartney's tour de force in Tel Aviv - Review

By DAVID BRINN - Jerusalem Post

In the end, it comes down to the music. After all the hoopla surrounding Paul McCartney's visit to Israel - the calls for boycotts, the death threat, the private chef and grand piano in his hotel suite, and the visit to Bethlehem - it all boiled down to a little over two hours onstage Thursday night at Yarkon Park in Tel Aviv before 40,000 plus fans.

"Shalom Tel Aviv, Shana Tova, Ahalan": Sir Paul McCartney on stage in Tel Aviv, Thursday.

And it was a dynamite two hours, with the 66-year-old former Beatle proving time and time again that he's a consummate performer, musician and songwriter. Evidently in fine spirits, despite reports of him receiving threatening emails up to two hours before show time cautioning him not to go onstage, Sir Paul and his energetic and versatile four-piece band surprised the crowd of all ages by opening with a rousing version of "Hello Goodbye."

It faithfully recreated The Beatles' original, thanks in equal measures to McCartney's voice barely having aged a day, the band's uncanny ability to recapture the vibe The Beatles created in the studio, and the magnificent sound system which highlighted each instrument. If you closed your eyes, it might as easily have been the Fab Four on stage.

Recapturing the past was what the more-than 30 song set was all about, as McCartney hauled out crowd pleasing versions of "Back in the USSR," "Eleanor Rigby" and, of course, the set closing "Let it Be" and "Hey Jude" while the adoring audience waved their cell phones in the air and sang along to every word.

But, of course, all eyes were on McCartney, who generously addressed the crowd between songs with a mixture of Pidgin Hebrew and corny show biz platitudes.

"Shalom Tel Aviv, Shana Tova, Ahlan," he shouted in his first address to the crowd. Before introducing his Wings-era ballad "My Love," he said in Hebrew, "This song is dedicated to Linda," referring to his late wife. And before a spot on "All My Loving" from The Beatles' first album, he said coyly, "Zeh Mi Pa'am" (This is an oldie).

Among the most emotional moments was a tribute to former Beatle George Harrison, which started out with McCartney performing Harrison's "Something" solo on the ukulele before morphing halfway through into the full band traditional version. Images of Harrison flashed on the huge, incredibly vivid video screens, causing at least one young female fan captured on screen to burst into tears.

McCartney also dedicated a song to John Lennon - a dramatic "A Day in the Life", which evolved into an audience sing along of "Give Peace A Chance."

A version of "Live and Let Die" was explosive, literally, with the band playing the song's orchestral crescendos as fire flash pots were ignited on stage, and fireworks shot up into the sky.

For the two-encore finale, McCartney pulled out some more nuggets like "Lady Madonna," "I Saw Her Standing There" and "Get Back", before ending the show with a solo acoustic "Yesterday" and a full band medley of the rocking reprise to "Sgt. Pepper's Lonely Hearts Club Band" and the classic "The End" from Abbey Road.

Watching McCartney trade blistering lead guitar lines with Anderson and Ray on the song's long jam - elongated even further in concert - was a magical moment, one of many which dominated an entirely exceptional show.

He may have received the short end of the stick from some revisionist Beatles historians, but anyone attending the show had to be convinced that McCartney was as integral to the phenomenal success and influence of The Beatles as any of his band mates.

Seeing the legends of days gone by is usually wrought with disappointment and inflated expectations. But on Thursday night, before the packed crowd at Yarkon Park, Paul McCartney only succeeded in adding to his legendary status.

(c) Jerusalem Post

The Reason Why We LOVE The Beatles

One of the key reasons why I (and I suspect many others) admire the Beatles and their music so much is due to the group's totally non-cynical and genuine desire to spread the message of love to the world.

This is not a new desire, granted that the Torah tells us to "love our neighbour/friend (in the same way) as we love ourselves" - an ideal that preceded the Beatles by only a mere three thousand years.

A cursory glance at the Beatles' songs verifies the fact - Love Me Do, She Loves You, All My Loving, Can't Buy Me Love, Love You To, All You Need Is Love testify to the fact. Let's also not forget that the Word was indeed "Love"!

What better a message could anyone give out to the world?

Paul McCartney's trip to Israel, besides being the catalyst for some rare good news emanating from the country (that's another one we owe you Paul) was all about spreading the message of love and tolerance. He managed, in his own way to assuage the critics and pacify both Jew and Arab by spending his free time visiting Palestinian children in a music school, praying for peace and then rocking the Jewish (and Muslim for that matter) population in Tel Aviv.

What Israel needs right now is a factory that produces clones of Paul McCartney on an hourly basis. He proved that love and music can achieve so much more than words or sadly bombs.

I love the Beatles and I'll tell you something, the older I get, the more grateful I am that I've been given the chance to do my little bit to promote their music and message to the next generation. If all I'll be remembered for is being a Beatles' freak, then I've achieved no mean feat.

It is after all a badge that I wear with an immense amount of pride.

Thursday, 25 September 2008

Paul's Concert In The (Yarkon) Park

The full set list from the September 25 Yarkon Park concert.

Hello, Goodbye (The Beatles single, Magical Mystery Tour [US version], 1967)

Jet (Wings: Band on the Run, 1973)

Drive My Car (The Beatles: Rubber Soul, 1965)

Only Momma Knows (McCartney: Memory Almost Full, 2007)

All My Loving (The Beatles: With The Beatles, 1963)

Flaming Pie (McCartney: Flaming Pie, 1997)

Let Me Roll It (Wings: Band On The Run, 1973) including a tribute to Jimi Hendrixs' Foxy Lady during the coda

My Love (Wings: Red Rose Speedway, 1973)

Let 'Em In (Wings: Wings At The Speed Of Sound, 1976)

The Long and Winding Road (The Beatles: Let it Be, 1970)

Dance Tonight (McCartney: Memory Almost Full, 2007)

Blackbird (The Beatles: The beatles [The White Album], 1968)

Calico Skies (McCartney: Flaming Pie, 1997)

I'll Follow the Sun (The Beatles: Beatles For Sale, 1964)

Mrs. Vandebilt (Wings: Band On The Run, 1973)

Here, There and Everywhere (The Beatles: Revolver, 1966)

Eleanor Rigby (The Beatles: Revolver, 1966)

Something (The Beatles: Abbey Road, 1969)

A Day in the life (The Beatles: Sgt. Pepper's Lonely Hearts Club Band, 1970), segueing halfway through into:

Give Peace a Chance (John Lennon and the Plastic Ono Band: Single, 1969)

Band on the Run (Wings: Band On The Run, 1973)

Back in the USSR (The Beatles: The Beatles [The White Album], 1967)

I've Got a Feeling (The Beatles: Let It Be, 1970)

Live and Let Die (Wings single [written for soundtrack of movie by the same name], 1973)

Let It Be (The Beatles: Let It Be, 1970)

Hey Jude (The Beatles: Let It Be, 1970)

First encore:

Lady Madonna (The Beatles: The Beatles [The White Album], 1967)

Get Back (The Beatles: Let It Be, 1970)

I Saw Her Standing There (The Beatles: Please Please Me, 1963)

Second encore:

Yesterday (The Beatles: Help!, 1965)

Sgt. Pepper (reprise) (The Beatles: Sgt. Pepper's Lonely Hearts Club Band, 1970)

The End (The Beatles: Abbey Road, 1969)

(c) Jerusalem Post

Sir Paul McCartney Beatles Tel Aviv Israel Concert

Get A Move On Moshiach!

Tonight the man does his thing at Yarkon Park. I wish so much that I could be there and am praying like never before that the Moshiach (Messiah) arrives before 6 pm GMT and whisks me away to Jerusalem (well, dropping me off in Tel Aviv first so that I can see the concert as there are still some affordable tickets left).

I know that I really shouldn't use this as an excuse to pray for the arrival of our saviour, but at the end of the day, does it really matter why I want to be in Israel???

C'mon Moshiach, if you need an excuse to come, can't it be Beatle related?

Tuesday, 23 September 2008

Locational Memories I'd Like To Have

Why is it that whenever something looks as though it's going well in Israel, somebody has to come along and spoil the party?

We finally got the chance to see the back of Olmert. Things were looking up (well, let's face it, anyone replacing him couldn't do a worse job) and then the news last night that shook us.

Yet another terror attack.
Yet more families shattered.
Yet more blood seeping into the cracks between the pavement that winds its way throughout the Jerusalem we so love.

Yet more.

I have the luxury of having visited nearly every place where a terrorist decides to carry out his or her murderous project. When a car crashes into a group of people in front of the Jaffa Gate, I know exactly where they were standing, because I've graced the very spot myself. Similarly so with the recent bulldozer attacks. I've been there and these locations are not in any way distant to my heart, mind or memory.

On the one hand, this is blessing because I can immediately identify with what happened and empathize with the people involved. On the other, it is all the more troubling because I know that I could have been there, walking with my parents, or wife, or children or close friend. G-d forbid my child could have been one of the people who is fighting for her life in hospital at this moment.

In the week before Rosh Hashanah, I look towards the heavens and pray that those injured will be well enough to dip their own apple in the honey that oozes in the New Year.

My wish for (the new year of) 5769 is that the hospital beds are full of only one kind of patient - the ecstatic mother who is holding the healthy newborn she has just brought into the world.

For it is this vision that I'd rather remember (from my own experiences, watching Dana with our newborns) as opposed to the kind that enables me to identify the location of the latest terrorist attack.

Sunday, 21 September 2008

My Joint Loves

I make no apology whatsoever for adding one article after another regarding Sir Paul McCartney's upcoming trip to Israel. How could I not go bananas over the notion that my two great loves, the State of Israel and the Beatles are for the first time becoming entwined. Words fail me...

Additionally, I have nothing but the utmost respect for Sir Paul. In defying those who would wish that he cancel his trip (and I won't even tell you what I think about that scumbag in Lebanon who threatened him with assassination), he shows himself to be a true friend of the Jewish people and the State of Israel and we don't forget things like that. As they say in Hebrew "Kol Hakavod" - all respect due - to him.

I have always held him in high estimation with regard to his amazing music. Now I see him in an ever greater light, if that were at all possible. I only wish I were there to experience the show.

Speaking Words of Wisdom


A full half century after The Beatles began to take shape, Paul McCartney still sounds awed, modest and appreciative when discussing the lasting resonance of their music. Ahead of his Tel Aviv concert on Thursday, McCartney talks here to The Jerusalem Post about his beliefs, about how he copes with near-universal fame, about the puzzling, even "magical" inspiration for some of his songs, and about his abiding, insistently optimistic outlook on life.

Paul McCartney, just turned 15, was introduced to John Lennon, all of 16, at a church fete in Woolton, Liverpool, at which Lennon's skiffle group, The Quarrymen, was playing. The older boy, so legend has it, was impressed by McCartney's familiarity with rock and roll music and his facility with a guitar. For one thing, he knew how to tune it properly. The year was 1957.

McCartney, who had already started penning his own songs (he still sometimes plays his first ever composition, "I Lost My Little Girl"), soon joined Lennon's band, and the two began writing music together. As other Quarrymen came and went, they recruited a skilled 15-year-old guitarist, George Harrison. It was 1958 - 50 years ago - and, though they had not yet found their name, The Beatles were on their way.

Variants on The Beatles moniker were introduced in 1960 by Stuart Sutcliffe, an artist who reluctantly became their bass player but who died, of a brain hemorrhage, in 1962. With Pete Best on drums, the band honed its live skills at endless gigs in Liverpool and Hamburg, failed an audition at Decca Records in London in January 1962, made a better impression on producer George Martin at Parlophone a few weeks later, drafted the adept Liverpool drummer Richard Starkey in place of Best that August, recorded their first single, "Love Me Do," in September, and set off to change the course of musical history.

Somehow managing to survive a ban by the State of Israel (which probably did not block their appearance here in 1965 because it feared they might corrupt our nation's youth, but more likely because of protekzia in the shape of pressure by one concert promoter who was jealous of the rival who had signed them), they went on to sell more than a billion records worldwide and so dominate global culture that when Lennon remarked in a 1966 interview that they were "more popular than Jesus now," he was being matter-of-fact as well as provocative.

And now, finally, with Lennon dead (murdered outside his Manhattan apartment block in 1980), Harrison dead too (from cancer, seven years ago) and Ringo "otherwise engaged," McCartney, 66, is bringing their music, and his own, to Israel. Some here have called it the greatest cultural event in our 60-year history. He blokily describes it as an opportunity to come to a region he's been interested in visiting, to "see what's what."

A ridiculously gifted musician, songwriter and vocalist who has spent five full decades, to quote from a 1968 composition, "sitting singing songs for everyone," McCartney's has been a life lived at an unthinkable level of fame, which he says he has generally found a way to enjoy. But however divinely gifted, and unspeakably wealthy, he has not led any kind of charmed existence.

His mother, a nurse, died of cancer when he was only 14. Lennon's assassination was both crushing and personally terrifying, bringing the fear that he might be next. His first wife, Linda, the love of his life from whom he was truly inseparable for almost 30 years, died in 1998. His recent second marriage, to Heather Mills, was disastrous, and very publicly so.

But McCartney, it would seem, is one of nature's undimmable optimists, earnestly glad to be alive, marveling at his growing band of grandchildren (six, as of daughter Mary's third son's birth last month), and rather humbled by nature.

His voice, down the phone on Friday from England, where he has been rehearsing ahead of the trip to Tel Aviv, was unmistakable even in conversation - melodic and cadenced. He did not sound unduly concerned about the Islamist threats of violence his visit has prompted. This, after all, is the lyricist who wrote, in 1967, about "the people standing there who disagree and never win, and wonder why they don't get in my door."

I don't know if he was being unworldly or self-calming in suggesting similarities between the extremists' objections now and the marginal hostility to a recent appearance he made in Quebec or to shows played at Tokyo's Budokan martial arts arena. But he wanted to stress that his message is one of humanitarianism and friendship. Indeed, this week's show, the latest in a series of one-offs that has seen him play to almost 700,000 people in Liverpool, Kiev and Quebec, is being promoted as McCartney's "Friendship First" concert.

As we hung up the phone, after an exchange of Shaloms, I could just hear him beginning to explain to someone in the background what the word means. On Thursday, Tel Aviv plays host to the earnest musical genius who told me that "the human spirit is a great thing" and feels "the world is a magnificent place and that we are blessed to be on it." Shalom, of course, will have a lot more meaning when everybody internalizes those words of wisdom.

Is that Paul?

Yeah! How're you doing man?

I'm great. It's lovely to speak to you. I have to tell you my sister and my mum were in the enthralled masses at Hammersmith Odeon in 1965…

I remember them well! (Laughs)

All they could hear was screaming, they said.

I know - that's all we could hear too... I must say, even though we couldn't hear anything, it was pretty exciting times.

You're the soundtrack to my children's lives as well. My daughter, who's 11, has just started learning bass and she's learning "Let It Be." That's the first thing they've got her working on.

Wow. It is fabulous, eh. We never, ever, thought that it would last this long. But, you know, it's a great tribute that it has lasted and that kids play it these days. I'm very proud of that fact.

It's third time lucky for Israel, right, after our brilliant government banned you and then the Wings dates fell through [in the 1970s]? Is this somewhere you've particularly wanted to play?

Yeah, you know, I'm always interested in visiting places I've never been to before, just as a tourist. It's always interesting to go to a new region. The offer of a gig came up. And it was somewhere that I'd been interested in. I'd like to go there and see what's what. I hear from a lot of people that Tel Aviv is a great place.

Israel is glorious and frenetic! Are you going to get to tour, get to Jerusalem…?

I'm not sure. Everyone says to me, "Oh you must go to Jerusalem, it's so beautiful. It's such ancient history." I don't think I'm going to have time, realistically… I have to be back in England for other things. But what happens is you go to these places and you think "I really must come back, I've got to explore more." So often these are good jumping off points.

Well, maybe you'll come back incognito. I have to tell you: Everybody who heard that I might be speaking to you, just has wanted to say hello, basically, and tell you how well they think of you and that you come over as such a decent person.

Oh, that's very nice. Thank you. And I say Shalom to them!

How has it been for you to live a whole life where everywhere you've been, people have known who you are. Almost universally, they've liked you and it's been nice feelings that they've had for you - but to live this life where everyone has known who you are, everywhere?

It's a kind of strange feeling, but I've grown up with it. I had to make a decision in my early 20s.

I was talking to someone about this just last night, actually: I went on holiday in Greece [in 1963] with my then girlfriend, who was Jane Asher, and Ringo and his then fiancée Maureen, who he later married. The guy who was talking to me last night said his mother and her friend met us there. And I told him this story: We weren't recognized in Greece and in fact I had a hard time telling the hotel band that we were in quite an up-and-coming group back in England. They seemed more famous at the hotel than we were.

So I always thought of Greece as one place that we could sort of get away from it all to. And I thought, well, that'd be okay, there's always certain places in the world you can get away to, and Greece will be a nice one to do that.

And then, it must have been about a year later, somebody said, "Hey, you're number one in Greece!" And I went, "Oh god, you know, there goes the bolt hole."

So I had to make a decision then: You either want to continue with music and this is going to be the price, or you should just retire gracefully right now. And obviously I made the decision to stay with music. So I've always known what I was letting myself in for, in a way. I then determined to try and enjoy it. And that's sort of what I do. It occasionally gets to be a nuisance. But I've more or less found a way to handle it so I enjoy my fame.

Is there a particular song that you've thought, "Hey, I really ought to play that in Israel?"

We have a couple of songs that we've brought back for Israel. We've changed the set slightly. But the set is normally based on what I think people will enjoy hearing. So a lot of it remains quite constant.

I always sit down and think first of all what I think the audience will like. And there's a certain set of numbers which I know people will know. I know they're hits. If I go to an artist's concert, I generally like to hear their hits. And then, secondly, I choose some material that I think will be interesting - may not be as big a hit but it will be interesting for people to hear. So we mix it. We mix and match the whole thing.

You're not planning any incredibly dramatic surprise like bringing Ringo or something?

No. I think he's otherwise engaged.

Well next time you speak to him, we'd love to have him here. I think people here will be familiar even with the less obvious stuff because they've been playing your music basically non-stop every hour on every station here for days.

Really? Oh well that's great. You can never assume that the whole of the audience knows all of your repertoire. You have to think there are going to be some people there who just know the main hits. But you're right, there are always plenty of people who sort of say "Oh, I'm really glad you played that one, that's my favorite." And they may be slightly obscure pieces. So we try to put a few of those in, just to make the whole concert interesting and to give it a good balance too.

Apropos life in the goldfish bowl, on the bigger scale, how worried have you been about the Islamists' threats - saying you shouldn't come and play here?

You have to realize that any high profile event brings with it some worries. But I have a very good team of people. And I think that most people understand that I'm quite apolitical and that my message is a global one and that it is a peaceful one. So I just have faith in that aspect of what I do.

Obviously you have to consider these things but I don't worry. I mean when I went to Quebec there were certain comments from people who said they thought it was entirely inappropriate for an English guy to be playing in a French Canadian city. I tend to just ignore those things and think there's always a voice in a crowd that will say that.

When we first went to Japan there were people who were very upset that we were playing in the Budokan because it had sacred connotations for them. [The Beatles were the first rock band to play in the arena, in 1966.] But I think the vast majority of people don't think like that. My mission, if I have one, is humanitarian, and concerns all people, not just a few.

When you think back 40 years ago, and you were writing songs about love and giving peace a chance and exploring freedoms and pushing boundaries, is it a darker world today than it looked back then?

I think it is. There certainly are problems that didn't exist then. But at the same time you have to remember that we had grown up in the shadow of World War II, which was a pretty dark time. So everything's relative.

It's certainly not as carefree a time as the '60s was, but it's a better time in many ways than World War II was, particularly for someone where I lived, like Liverpool, which sustained a lot of bombing. And my parents grew up in that. I think it gives you a sense of perspective.

There are a lot of things that aren't great about modern life, but I still feel there's a lot of stuff that is. And I try to focus on that and try to encourage people to look for the good in each other and address the best.

I think you have managed to create that sense. When people think of you and your music, they do think that it encompasses a fundamentally optimistic outlook on life…

Well I do hope so, because that's sort of how I am. Obviously if you look at individual difficult situations and just concentrate on them, it is going to give you a very down view of the world at any given time. There are still massive problems everywhere. You look at Africa and places like that. It's hugely difficult.

But then, you think, there's someone like Bono or there's the efforts of someone like Bob Geldof and people like Brian Eno and War Child [which focuses on children affected by war]. There are lots of people who are trying to focus on helping. So I'm optimistic.

I think the human race is a pretty amazing thing. I think the human spirit is a great thing. So I have faith that things will work out well.

Since you've moved onto that: You're coming to this part of the world that is so central to the great monotheistic religions. Where does faith figure in your outlook? What are your thoughts about the divine gift of life and the human spirit?

I'm not so much religious as someone who likes to think I take the best from many religions, the best of what they all have to say. They obviously have a lot of things in common. I always think of myself as spiritual rather than religious as such. I'm not too dogmatic about things. But I do feel that the world is a magnificent place and that we are blessed to be on it. And as I say, the human spirit is a great thing.

My daughter [Mary], for instance, has just had a baby and I see that as a miracle. It's not a religious miracle but it still is a miracle to me!

Amen to all that.

Yeah (laughs), how does all of that happen, man? Through the simplest of methods comes the most divine of results!

I remember having exactly the same sort of feeling when my kids were born, and you know it's not something that could possibly have come about by any process that you can understand.

Yeah. It's absolutely magical. I'm reading a book at the moment that I've been sent by the Dalai Lama [The Universe in a Single Atom], which is comparing some Buddhist philosophy to modern quantum physics. It's quite striking that modern science has many things in common with some of the ancient religions.

I think we're at a very interesting stage in human development and I just hope for the best and I'm optimistic about it.

I have to ask you some music questions: What are your favorites, of The Beatles' and subsequent songs and albums? Which do you listen to…?

I have many favorites, really. I can now talk without seeming conceited about The Beatles' "body of work." When we were writing it, it was a difficult to say, "You know I think it's great," because that just came off as immodest. But now that I'm able to look back on it, I think there was a lot of really good stuff there. I have favorites amongst John's work, George's work, my own work and The Beatles' generally.

If I have to pick one, I have to pick up the theme of the last question and say that for me "Yesterday" is a pretty special song, the main reason being that it arrived kind of magically because I dreamt the melody. I woke up one morning and I had this tune in my head and I spent the next week asking people what it was and nobody could define what it was. So I eventually realized I, in some way, had written it. So I put some lyrics to it after that. And it's been a very special song for me.

It's almost impossible to choose my favorites, because the other thing is your favorites vary. And, as I say, there's so much that John and George and Ringo did that I have great affection for. But of my own stuff, I would have to choose "Yesterday" because of the way it arrived. And for me it's been very lucky. Over 3,000 people have thought it a song that was fit to cover. It's been a pretty special song, and I don't even know how I wrote it.

I have to ask you what "Let It Be" is about, if only because my daughter's teacher has asked them…

Well that's a very special song to me as well. The story behind that was again something to do with a dream. I was going through some difficult times as a young guy in the '60s. There was plenty of partying going on and I'm sure I was overdoing it. So it led to occasionally feeling a bit sort of fried or whatever. I felt like I'd sort of overdone it.

But in one of my dreams, this particular dream, my mother, who had been dead for the 10 years previously, came to me - it's always a great thing when you see somebody that you've lost in a dream. And because she could see I was feeling a bit down, she said to me, in the dream: "Let it be." So I took this as very inspirational and woke up and wrote the song "Let It Be."

It's a big favorite with gospel choirs. I mean it mentions "mother Mary," which obviously a lot of people take to mean the Virgin Mary. But my mom's name was Mary. When I say mother Mary, I mean my mum.
I feel very blessed to have had those things happen and slightly puzzled as to how they did happen.

Let me ask you about "Maybe I'm Amazed." Is that a song that you feel very passionate about, as passionate as it sounds when you sing it?

"Maybe I'm Amazed" was written when I first met Linda [in the late 60s]. It tries to capture some of the feelings that she inspired, and so obviously that has a special place in my affection.

Paul, thank you for speaking to The Jerusalem Post and we wish you Shalom and see you in Israel.

All right (laughs). Thank you. I've got a question for you: Most of the audience is going to understand English, yeah? … If I'm announcing [songs] and talking and just telling anecdotes, people are pretty much going to understand me?

I think they will. I mean the Liverpool accent will be comparatively rare, but this is a country that speaks a lot of English.

Great. Okay. Well, Shalom!

Copyright 1995- 2008 The Jerusalem Post -

Saturday, 20 September 2008

Why Sir Paul McCartney is willing to risk it all in Israel

By Geoff Baker

Paul McCartney performs in Israel on Thursday for the first time. The concert in Tel Aviv will be a security nightmare and rival groups are playing tug-of-war with Paul's personal politics.
Because he is seen almost universally as 'one of the good guys', everyone wants to recruit him to their side.

Israel, which famously banned the 'decadent' Beatles in 1965, is billing the concert as part of its 60th anniversary celebrations.

Paul with Linda in the Nineties. His Tel Aviv concert is a nod to the Jewish element in his success, including her family the Eastmans whose legal advice helped him during the Beatles' breakup

Some Palestinian groups insist the event should not go ahead - and no one discounts the possibility of an extremist attempting a 'spectacular' to make a political point.

'I was approached by different groups and political bodies who asked me not to go to Israel,' Paul told the Israeli media. 'But I refused. I do what I think.'

Paul is no Zionist and nor has he ever spoken up for the PLO, but he is a pacifist and hopes the two sides take a hint from the title of the gig - The Friendship First Concert.

There is also a private reason for Macca's visit - it represents a nod of thanks to those of Jewish birth who were instrumental in helping to forge the Beatles phenomenon.

As a Beatle, Paul's manager, lawyer, song publisher and promoter were all Jewish.
Manager Brian Epstein's contacts were particularly useful for the band.

One such man was Dick James, who became The Beatles' song publisher, and who suggested the formation of Northern Songs, the company that made millions for Paul and John Lennon.

Another key player was Sid Bernstein, who helped cement Beatlemania in the United States thanks to the band's concerts at Shea Stadium in 1965.

And then there was Murray Kaufman, the DJ who championed songs such as I Want To Hold Your Hand.

The other Jewish friends in Paul's rise were the Eastmans, the family of entertainment lawyers headed by Lee Eastman, the father of Paul's late wife Linda.

Lee and his son John represented Paul from 1969 and it was through them that Paul bolstered his massive wealth by acquiring publishing rights to hundreds of other songs including the Buddy Holly catalogue. Paul is still represented by the firm.

And then, of course, there is Linda. Paul, will arrive in Israel on September 24, the date on which she would have been 67.

It would be astonishing if the couple's children - Heather, Mary, Stella and James - do not accompany their father.

Of course, this adds to the security risk, and Paul's aides are finalising a protection strategy with the Israeli intelligence service.

As Paul's former spokesman, I know that at all McCartney concerts, the TV news crews are fed one song which they can broadcast for free. But which song will Paul choose?

On the banks of the Mersey in 1990, Paul performed a tribute to Lennon in front of 70,000 fans.

Playing a medley that included Strawberry Fields Forever, Help! and Give Peace A Chance remains one of Paul's career highlights.

One newspaper said of that magical moment: 'We will probably not see its like again.' But on Thursday we just might.

(c) Daily Mail 2008

Thursday, 18 September 2008

Your Life As A Cake

Have you ever thought of your life as being a round birthday cake?

No I hadn't either and then it occurred to me that this isn't such a bizarre analogy...stick with me on this one, it does make sense.

Let's say you viewed your entire life as a birthday cake with each slice representing an important milestone. As you make your way around the cake in a clockwise direction and remove slices, you can recognise the achievements you've made.

When you are born, you remove the first slice and look at a cross-section (sideways on). There you are in your mother's arms in the hospital, dressed in your white baby grow, possibly gurgling, more probably asleep, little eyes tightly shut. Eat the slice.

Remove the second slice. Now you're up on your little legs, walking around the furniture gurgling proudly to yourself and so on. Go on, take a bite.

Yesterday, Dassi removed a slice from her cake and looked at it. It was our tour around a secondary school, potentially the one she'll attend next September. It was a large slice, with quite a bit of icing on top. We viewed the classrooms, talked to the teachers and did a lot of both wandering and wondering. It was a slice that we needed to digest properly, to really ensure that it would be worthy of it's place in the pantheon of her life to date. For me, it was a slice that I was very proud to partake of, even the crumbs were noteworthy.

My cake is halfway eaten. I've eaten a fair number of slices, some which were easier to digest, others which took quite a number of bites to get through.

What does yours look like today?

Tuesday, 16 September 2008

This Is Hilarious

In an odd twist to this story, World Net Daily reported that Aaron Klein, a terrorism author and expert, contacted several men he described as Palestinian terrorists and was said to have found not one of them had heard of Paul McCartney.

Klein, WorldNetDaily's Jerusalem bureau chief and author of the book "Schmoozing with Terrorists," even sang Beatle songs, including "Yesterday," "Let It Be" and "She Loves You" to them, but even those didn't help. Abu Ahmed, said to be a senior leader of Islamic Jihad in Gaza, reportedly told Klein, "We don't know these Beatles." They had, however, heard of Britney Spears and Madonna. In fact, Abdel-Al had threatened to "cut the heads" of Madonna and Spears for spreading Satanic culture.

As as adjunct, Dana thinks that Paul McCartney shouldn't be told because he'd be more upset if he knew the terrorists had never heard of him, as opposed to knowing of any plans they might have to bump him off!

Monday, 15 September 2008

Sunday, 14 September 2008

Ramon's Insult

I think it should be clear that my political views vis a vis Israel are not exactly what one would call "left wing". Then again, I certainly wouldn't want to ally myself with anyone from the right who believes in going around shooting Arabs.

So I suppose I'm stuck somewhere in the middle, or probably to the right of centre. I support the Jewish Settlers in their ideals to live in whichever part of Israel they choose to do so. I don't however agree with the actions of some of the hotheads who go out of their way to antagonise their Palestinian neighbours. I also strongly believe that places like Hebron must always remain in Jewish hands, irrespective of whether the UN or anyone else for that matter agrees with it or not.

I write this in light of (Vice Premier) Haim Ramon's evacuation-compensation bill which offers to pay off the Settlers to the tune of 1.1 million shekels (nearly £170,180) per family, on the condition that they voluntarily agree to move to the Negev or Galilee (with extra incentives for the latter).

If I were a settler, I would find such an offer extraordinarily insulting. These people risk their lives on a daily basis to follow their ideal. Yes, there are those who moved the settlements for economic reasons, but I'd like to believe that the vast majority aren't in it for the money.

Jewish ministers offering bribes to Jewish settlers to move out is both insulting and degrading to all concerned and Ramon, frankly should be thoroughly ashamed of his actions.

Saturday, 13 September 2008

McCartney resists pressure to scrap Israel concert

JERUSALEM (Reuters) - Legendary Beatles star Paul McCartney said he was pressed to cancel his upcoming performance in Israel, but reassured Israeli fans in comments published on Thursday he would go ahead with the planned concert.

"I was approached by different groups and political bodies who asked me not to come here. I refused. I do what I think, and I have many friends who support Israel," McCartney said in an interview with Israel's Yedioth Ahronoth.

Pro-Palestinian groups have frequently called on international academics and prominent cultural figures to boycott Israel over its occupation of the West Bank and blockade of the Hamas-controlled Gaza Strip.

Jewish groups have condemned cultural and academic boycotts as anti-Semitic.

McCartney will perform hits from his Beatles days and his solo career during a September 25 concert in Tel Aviv as part of a series of shows that has taken McCartney to cities he never visited before.

Asked about how members of the Beatles, one of the most popular bands in rock history, felt when the Israeli government scrapped their concert in 1965 on the grounds it could corrupt the nation's youth, McCartney said it was "a bit insulting, the thought we could corrupt the youth."

"The Beatles had a pretty positive influence on the world and only regimes that wanted to control their peoples were afraid of us. We mostly laughed at the Israeli government decision," McCartney said in comments translated into Hebrew.

Another account in Israel's Haaretz newspaper last month pinned the cancellation of the 1965 Beatles concert on a rift between two concert promoters.

McCartney said in comments published on his Web site last month he looks forward to this chance to perform in Israel. "I've heard so many great things about Tel Aviv and Israel, but hearing is one thing and experiencing it for yourself is another," he said.

(Writing by Avida Landau)

© Reuters 2008

Friday, 12 September 2008

Forgetting 9/11

I watched the coverage of the remembrance ceremony at Ground Zero yesterday night and it occurred to me that, for the first time, "9/11" was being treated in a different way than it had in the past.

It felt as though, both the TV station and some of the people (aside from those who were obviously affected) were going through the motions. My suspicions were proven right when one of those interviewed said that "9/11 had just crept up on him". He hadn't anticipated it, because there was so much going on his life, what with the elections, the economy, the recent Olympics, the summer break and so forth.

9/11 had just crept up on him. In other words, the anniversary didn't hold as much significance to him as it might have done, say, twelve months ago. An event which shook the world to it's very core, just eight years ago, was starting to sound like a bit of an after-thought.

If this is what people are saying now, how will the anniversary be marked in three years time, or five, or seven or thirty? What will happen after next year when a new building will rise up from the debris of the World Trade Centre?

I had an intelligent student yesterday who swore blindly that Bush had orchestrated the attack to blame the Arabs. Unfortunately, her theory is held by more and more people. Forget the facts, the conspiracy seems much more plausible.

Does this remind you of anything?

As Jews, we make it our business to remember another atrocity that took place sixty years ago. We know, that if we let ourselves and the rest of the world forget, our anniversaries, like the uprising of the Warsaw fighters, Kristallnacht, the liberation of Belsen and Auschwitz, may also start creeping up people unawares.

We know that folks will start to wonder whether we made the whole thing up ourselves, to blame someone else - in spite of the rock-solid evidence that exists. Preserving the memory of the Holocaust is a lesson to us all of how easy it is to forget the event and that's why it is vital that we never let people forget its importance for a single moment.

Fast forward to the future. Fast forward to 10/11, the day after. The same people who may want us to believe the Holocaust didn't happen, have a vested interest in spewing out conspiracy theories that intelligent students will swallow up hook, line and sinker. We must therefore ensure that they can't succeed in their malevolent intentions.

I know I didn't let 9/11 creep up on me. I just pray that there were more around who were like me, because if not, one day in the near future, we might do the unthinkable and forget the tragedy that took place in front of the world's cameras at the commencement of this century.

Thursday, 11 September 2008

September The Eleventh By Every Other Name

September the eleventh.



How can the day ever mean the same again? It has taken on so much more than the twenty four hours it spans. The last seven years have in some way or another been nothing but 9/11. If ever an event shaped a generation, this was it.

We all remember where we were because we can't forget, even if we try. The shock, the smoke, the towers, the images. How these are burned into our subconscious.

But it's not about us is it?

This day is about the mothers, fathers, brothers, sisters, aunts, uncles. It is just about them and this is the only thing that matters as the clock moves into a new year. Forget the towers. They were only concrete but dare not forget what happened to nearly three thousand innocents but seven years ago today.

September the eleventh, you haunt me - but as long as you do, I realise that I still have at least a shred of humanity left in my being.


How The Credit Crunch Will Affect Britain

Wednesday, 10 September 2008

Why Men Don't Write Advice Columns

Dear Walter,

I hope you can help me here. The other day, I set off for work leaving my husband in the house watching the TV as usual. I hadn't driven more than a mile down the road when the engine conked out and the car shuddered to a halt.

I walked back home to get my husband's help. When I got home I couldn't believe my eyes. He was in our bedroom with the neighbors daughter. I am 40, my husband is 44, and ?the neighbors daughter is 25. We have been married for ten years.

When I confronted him, he broke down and admitted that they had been having an affair for the past six months. I told him to stop or I would leave him. He was let go from his job six months ago and he says he has been feeling increasingly depressed and worthless. I love him very much, but ever since I gave him the ultimatum he has become increasingly distant. He won't go to counseling and I'm afraid I can't get through to him anymore.

Can you please help?



Dear Sheila:

A car stalling after being driven a short distance can be caused by a variety of faults with the engine. Start by checking that there is no debris in the fuel line. If it is clear, check the vacuum pipes and hoses on the intake manifold and also check all grounding wires. If none of these approaches solves the problem, it could be that the fuel pump itself is faulty, causing low delivery
pressure to the injectors.

I hope this helps.


Monday, 8 September 2008

Mark Regev's Q&A

Mark Regev has established himself as an eloquent and highly respected spokesman for the Israeli Government. Recently the very charming "Israeli girl" blogger asked her readers to submit questions to Mr Regev, which he duly answered.

In the spirit of finding out what really happens in the Middle East (as opposed to the highly questionable and mostly inaccurate BBC take on events) please go to:

Mr Competition Winner

Every now and again, you get a little boost that makes your life a little better. My shot in the arm came through a phone call this morning from London radio station, LBC, telling me that I'd won two tickets to see the musical Our House which features the songs of Madness.

I entered the competition online last week and thought nothing more of it. When I heard the voicemail message on my mobile (the old one, I'm still a-waitin' the replacement), I was pretty pleased with myself and probably told too many people. Lots of jealous expressions abounded (to be fair, they tried to appear happy, but I just knew...).

Anyway, I'll be going on Wednesday night.

Let me put it this way - this is a great way to start the new week. I hope that the sun keeps shining on me.

Maybe I should buy a lottery ticket, because you never can tell....

Saturday, 6 September 2008

Holding Back

It's always gratifying when a friend approaches you and tells you he or she has just read your blog and really enjoyed it (I have yet to meet someone who tells me they hated it....even if they did!). I know that there are loyal readers out there, who like to follow my rantings and general "happenings".

I also know that there is a lot I would like to write about that I keep to myself, for all kinds of reasons. Making your life open to publication is different to letting all and sundry find out every little thought that enters your brain, or indeed, share all the stresses that we face in our daily lives.

At times, this blog has been extraordinarily therapeutic and it is something that I value highly. Four-and-a-half years on, I'd like to thank you again for keeping up with my adventures. When I started on this journey, people looked at me as though though I were mad. I guess that I'm still writing here says that maybe doing so isn't as bizarre as it once seemed.

Tuesday, 2 September 2008

Life's A Botch

So I was back at school. No kids. Just results. Meetings and results. Lunch and results. Meeting and lunch and results.

The good thing about being at school is that it takes your mind off other things that you've probably had too much time to think about when you weren't at school (discussing results). I now have another ten months to take my mind off the life I pertain to lead outside school. I can't work out if this is or isn't a good thing, but having just spent the last three hours preparing for the new term, I've probably already answered the question.

The first proper teaching day is on Thursday. Before I know it, the holidays will seem like a luxury that I didn't quite appreciate enough when I was living through them.

Monday, 1 September 2008

Mel Brooks Starts Nonprofit Foundation To Save Word 'Schmuck'

NEW YORK-Saying he could no longer stand idly by while a vital part of American culture is lost forever, activist and Broadway producer Mel Brooks has founded a private nonprofit organization dedicated to preserving the word 'schmuck.'
Mel Brooks

An emotional Brooks stopped short of kvetching at a schmuck fundraiser Monday. 'Schmuck is dying,' a sober Brooks said during a 2,000-person rally held in his hometown of Williamsburg ,A 0Brooklyn Monday. 'For many of us, saying 'schmuck' is a way of life. Yet when I walk down the street and see people behaving in foolish, pathetic, or otherwise schmucky ways, I hear only the words 'prick' and 'douche bag.' I just shake my head and think, 'I don't want to live in a world like this.''

The nonprofit, Schmucks For Schmuck, has compiled schmuck-related data from the past 80 years and conducted its own independent research on contemporary 'schmuck' usage. According to Brooks, the statistics are frightening: Utterances of the word 'schmuck' have declined every year since its peak in 1951, and in 2006, the word was spoken a mere 28 times-17 of these times by Brooks himself. The study indicates that today, when faced with a situation in which one can use a targeted or self-deprecating insult to convey a general feeling of disgust, people are 50 times more likely to use the word 'jerk' than 'schmuck,' 100 times more likely to use 'dick,' and 15,000 times more likely to use 'f*cking as*hole.'

Perhaps more startling, only 23 percent of men know what schmuck means, and only 1.2 percent of these men are under the age of 78. If such trends continue, Brooks estimates that by 2011, such lesser-used terms as 'imbecile,' 'dummy,' 'schlub,' and 'contemptible ne'er-do-well' will all surpass schmuck, which is projected to completely disappear by the year 2020 or whenever Brooks dies.

'We must save this word!' Brooks said to thunderous applause as those in attendance began chanting 'Schmuck! Schmuck! Schmuck!' 'How will we be able to charmingly describe someone who acts in an inappropriate manner? Especially given the tragic loss of the word 'schmegeggie' in 2001. So I urge you: Tonight, when you get home, please, call up your family, your friends, your loved ones, and tell them they're a bunch of schmucks.'

Hundreds turned out at a Boca Raton , FL demonstration to show their support for the dying word.

'I've never told anyone this before,' Brooks added, choking back tears, 'but my father was a schmuck.'

The foundation has already raised more than $20 million, thanks to donations from supporters such as Jackie Mason, Albert Brooks, the Schtupp Institute, Sen. Russ Feingold (D-WI), and the Henny Youngman Endowment for the Preservation of Schmekel. The money will go toward projects aimed at reintegrating 'schmuck' into the English lexicon, including billboards and flyers plastered with the word 'schmuck,' the upcoming 5K Schlep for Schmuck Awareness, and a new Mel Brooks film.

'The world cannot afford to lose this valuable and versatile word,' Brooks told re porters during a charity=2 0auction in Manhattan's Upper West Side Tuesday, where attendees bid for the chance to have a private lunch with Brooks and repeatedly call him a schmuck. 'You can be a poor schmuck, a lazy schmuck, a dumb schmuck, or just a plain old schmuck. A group of people can be collectively referred to as schmucks. You can call someone a schmuck, and you can be called a schmuck. You can even call yourself a schmuck.'

'Plus, it's just so fun to say,' Brooks added. 'Schmuck.'

Many of the foundation's volunteers say they share Brooks' passion for the word 'schmuck,' as well as his outrage that it is slowly disappearing from everyday use. They claim that if they do not act now, the trend could create a snowball effect.

' Today it's schmuck, tomorrow it might be toochis,' said SFS volunteer Harry Steinbergmann, 82. 'What's next, schlemiel? Putz? Schlimazel?'

Steinbergmann went on to classify this scenario as farcockteh.

Brooks will be appearing at Brooklyn's Francis Scott Key Junior High on Nov. 12 to give an informal lecture about his experiences using the word 'schmuck,' and build grassroots support among a key group of young Americans by explaining that 'schmuck' is a Yiddish term for the foreskin on the head of a penis. In addition, he has hinted at the possibility of a reunion with longtime comedy partner Gene Wilder, during which the two will call each other schmucks.

(c) The Onion 2008

So You Want to Boycott Israel?

For all you haters of Zion, here is the perfect way to boycott the evil regime and help those poor helpless Palestinians...

The Pre-School Psyche

What if they don't like me?
What if I give a crap lesson (or three)?
What if I haven't prepared adequately?
What if I screw their lives up permanently?
What if I haven't used my holiday effectively?
What if the exam results are abysmal?

Yes, it's the annual pre-school psyche routine.
Another 24 hours and I'll be thrust back into the 80 mph motorway that is high school.

Deep breath.
Eyes tightly shut.
Breathe out.

Sharp intake.
Breathe out.

24 hours.