Girafot (Giraffes) is an Israeli band. They released their debut album in 1999 and became famous when the song “Rami is Accused of Possessing Recreational Drugs” was banned on the radio and immediately became an Internet hit. Although initially dismissed as a one-off novelty act, they kept performing and released their stunning sophomore album Gag (Roof) in 2006. That album, most of which dealt with broken relationships in a surprisingly sober manner and sported excellent production and musicianship, immediately became a classic of Israeli rock and spawned several hits. The band also became famous for its cranky live performances, in which the frontman Gil’ad Kahana improvised spoken-word not-quite-sensical commentary on current affairs.
Their third album was released recently. It is full of little human stories, very real and very Israeli, and yet very universal. Nobody expected anything so touchy and emotional from a band whose singer takes pride in the amounts of alcohol he consumes before going on stage and ends the shows singing an extended version of a song called “Rami is Accused of Possessing Recreational Drugs” walking back and forth through the crowd. Yet there you have it. The most unforgettable song from this album is called “Moses”. Here’s the video, which takes the main message of a song and puts it in a completely different context. You don’t need to know Hebrew to enjoy the video:
… But i’ll translate it for you, because then you’ll understand the context, and it will become even more powerful:
Sewage seethes in the middle of the street,
Oil turns the water rainbow-colored,
The horse’s hooves slip,
Everybody falls down,
Rag and bone man,
And his son begs
“Father, please, don’t hit Moses.”
An especially hot day,
Jaffa is burning,
Riding through the streets,
The child is conflicted
In his thoughts
How is it possible that father will change horses?
In the beginning of the week
Moses got scared from a pigeon taking off,
A washing machine was ruined.
Everybody falls down.
A little explanation: Jaffa is the old town of Tel-Aviv with a significant Arab population, a very popular tourist destination. Many people there are poor, but the proximity to the sea and the romanticism of the old town causes pretty rapid – and tasteless – gentrification. Still it’s home to many rag and bone wagon drivers. This song shows them in a new light – their children are human, too.