Amichai’s Top 50/13. ‘Ashes and Dust’ אפר ואבק

Late summer morning in 1990, on a beach in Tel Aviv, I’m on a brief break mid army service, and I’m sobbing as I repeat-play a song on my Walkman: ‘Ashes and Dust’. The night before I met the man who would become my first lover, and my heart is bursting with excitement but also with fear and shame. I’m not yet out to my family. What will my father say? All the emotions conflated, tears run wild.

Yehuda Poliker and Yaacov Gilad’s album ‘Ashes and Dust’ released in 1988 was unlike anything any of us heard before: a rock’n’roll retelling of the Holocaust horrors, created by the two sons of survivors. Gilad’s family from Poland, Poliker’s from Greece.
Every song was a punch in the gut, and almost instantly became classics, with gold and platinum records.
My own journey of processing my family’s harrowing Holocaust traumas included many meetings and dialogues with others dubbed ‘Second Generation’. ‘Ashes and Dust’ was our soundtrack. By the time I’m sitting on that beach with tears of joy and guilt it has become my private set of prayers.

I didn’t know then that Poliker and Gilad were a closeted gay couple. Somehow I sensed something queer and personal through the pain of their music, perhaps a plea for permission to live and to love and to be loved, no matter what.

Today the world marks Yom Ha’Shoah, commemorating the victims and the heroines of the Holocaust. I’m playing the record, flooded with memories, appreciation, sadness, humility and perspective: ‘Eternity is but ashes and dust.’

– Amichai

Amichai’s Top 50: Soundtrack of my life. 4/20-6-8 2019/Passover-Shavuot 5779

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