Josh Shron
Israeli Music Radio Host, Podcaster & Enthusiast
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Remembering Yigal Bashan: 1950-2018

May the late musician's many songs live on 'like a little bird in our hearts' for years to come

Fans of Israeli music were devastated to learn of the passing yesterday of famed Israeli singer Yigal Bashan, who died at age 68. The cause of death was not immediately made public.

Yigal Bashan was responsible for countless Israeli classic songs during his long and illustrious 50+ year musical career, which was marked by an ACUM Lifetime Achievement Award in 2016.

Sometimes you don’t realize a person’s contributions until after they leave this world. I’ve always recognized a few of Yigal Bashan’s songs, and even identified some that I really enjoyed.

But yesterday, a quick YouTube search returned much more than I could have ever imagined.

Me, 10 seconds into every video: “Oh! I know that song!”

In his 68 years, Yigal Bashan brought the land of Israel some of its most-known and most-loved melodies of all time. Just take a few minutes to watch the video above, which features snippets of 45 of Yigal’s best-known songs, and you’ll be hungry for more…guaranteed.

Yigal Bashan: The Israeli Soundtrack for 50+ Years

I’ll leave the extensive historical wrap-up to the editors of Yigal’s Wikipedia page (Hebrew), but I want to point out a few important highlights. Suffice it to say, Yigal had a VERY long musical career, beginning at the age of 15. Back then, he teamed up with Shlomit Aharon, another well-known singer, to form the group “Yigal V’Shlomit”. They even recorded a few songs together, including “Shnat Alpayim”, released in 1966.

In 1969, Yigal participated in the Hassidic Song Festival, singing what would later become one of world Jewry’s most beloved songs, “Oseh Shalom”, composed by Nurit Hirsch.

He went on to join Lahakat Pikud Hatzafon, where he released a number of hits, including “Matok Matok”.

The 70s

Yigal Bashan’s musical career kicked into high gear after his release from the army in 1972. His biggest hit, arguably, came along in 1975. The album “Yigal Bashan V’Chaverim Tovim” included his best-known song, “Yesh Li Tzipor Ktana BaLev”.

Incidentally, the album also included the song “Im Ninalu”, on which a young Ofra Haza sang backup – a decade before Ofra made the song an international hit.

In the late 70s, Yigal recorded a number of English-language albums, which included the song “My Suzanne”. That song was later translated into Hebrew, and became “Sivan” – another one of Yigal Bashan’s greatest hits.

The 80s

In 1985, Yigal was approached by Uzi Hitman to sing a song Uzi had written for submission into the Pre-Eurovision Song Contest. The song was called “Kmo Tzoani”, sung by Bashan, Hitman and Yonatan Miller. The trio took on the stage name “Kmo Tzoani” as well. After losing the Kdam Eurovision by just one point (to Izhar Cohen’s “Oleh Oleh”), they responded with the song “Anachnu Nisharim BaAretz”, which went on to win “Song of the Year” on Reshet Gimmel radio.

There is SO much more, including Yigal’s extensive repertoire of children’s songs (along with Hitman and Miller). “Hopa Hey” became a VERY successful kiddie franchise, with a television show, many albums and countless live performances.

We’ve only begun to scratch the surface. How’s THAT for a career?

Reactions on the Passing of Yigal Bashan

Reactions to Yigal Bashan’s passing came from far and wide. Prime Minister Netanyahu (as reported in The Times of Israel, December 9, 2018):

Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu said in statement that Bashan was “an inseparable part of the Israeli sound track.”

“His voice and songs will continue to accompany us for many years to come,” Netanyahu continued. “On behalf of all the people of Israel, I send condolences to his family. May his memory be blessed.”

Idan Raichel posted a photo of Yigal Bashan and Uzi Hitman on his Facebook page:

Yigal and Uzi, legends of my childhood.
We are all human fabric, and part of the chain. Especially in these days, when I find myself on the stage of the Festigal [an annual kids’ performance in Israel], remembering that on this stage we saw them, giving all of themselves for us, when we were children.

Rami Kleinstein, on Facebook (translated, roughly, from Hebrew):

When I was a boy of 13 and the television broadcast only one channel in black and white, they played an “explosive” performance of one of the stars of the day, if not THE star…whose name was Yigal Bashan.
A performance at “Tzavta”, I was so impressed even then. What a talented performer and great singer he was!

What amazing hits he had…

I listened to “Sivan” non-stop and knew by heart the roles of all the musicians in that song. I also remember that on Shabbat Yigal and his friends would jump over the locked gate of the Alliance School in Ramat Aviv so that they could play soccer in the field. I was so impressed that this star would change clothes into sportswear with his friends and act like a regular guy…something that stays with me until today. I met him on at least a stage or two and Yigal was undoubtedly one of the good guys in this ocean of sharks that is our business.

I’m sad to part from you.
You are the “Yigal” for all of us.
May you rest in peace. May your memory be a blessing.

Finally, Omer Adam and Idan Amedi joined together at a recent concert to pay tribute to Yigal Bashan, with their rendition of his hit “Sivan”.

I’ve learned a lot in the past 24 hours. Yigal Bashan will certainly be missed. May his memory be a blessing, and may his songs live on “like a little bird in our hearts” for many years to come.

About the Author
Josh Shron is the host of "Israel Hour Radio" - a weekly Israeli music radio program and podcast he's hosted on Rutgers University's WRSU Radio since 1994. He has the amazing opportunity to share his love for Israel and its music with thousands of listeners each week. Free weekly podcasts are available at the iTunes Music Store, TuneIn Radio or at https://www.MyIsraeliMusic.com. Josh is also the founder and president of Stampless Marketing, a full-service digital marketing firm. He lives in New Jersey with his wife and five children.
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