An Evening of Roses

In 1957, Israeli composer Yoseph Hadar put music to the words of poet Moshe Dor and created one of the great modern love songs, Erev Shel Shoshanim, Evening of Roses. It was first recorded by Yafa Yarkoni the same year. A year later it was a local hit in Israel for the Dudaim folk duo and as they toured around the world it was popularized internationally in the folk music craze of the late 1950s and early 1960s.

It’s been recorded by a truly diverse group of artists including Harry Belefonte, Miriam Makeba, and Nana Mouskouri, all in Hebrew, with Mouskouri doing an original Greek version. Yarkoni even rerecorded it in Spanish, with a Mexican orchestra. In 1974, Yugoslav prog-rockers Dah recorded Šošana, featuring a melody based on Hadar’s tune. A year later, the band moved to Belgium, changed their name to Land, and they recorded an English version titled Shoshana, which became enough of an international hit that, according to Wikipedia, became a popular soccer chant in Europe.

Finnish songwriter Juhani Forsberg used the melody in his song Tiellä ken vaeltaa, which is how an Israeli love song ended up in the hymnbook of Evangelical Lutheran Church of Finland.

More recently, French pop artist The Parakit sampled Shoshana for the 2016 hit Save Me.

It’s easy to understand the song’s popularity. Dor’s simple lyrics evoke the passion in the biblical Song of Songs and Hadar’s melody, with its touch of Middle Eastern flavor, is beautiful, easy to hum, and has just enough yearning to fit a love song. Small wonder that if you’ve ever attended a Jewish wedding, you have likely heard this song used during the ceremony.

Last year, on the occasion of Israel’s 70th Independence Day, surviving member of the Dudaim, Yisrael Gurion, joined with Israeli “American-Country-Folk” band Jane Bordeaux, fronted by vocalist Doron Talmon, to record this version.

Play it for someone you love.

An evening of roses.
Let us go out to the grove.
Myrrh, spices, and frankincense
Is the carpet under your feet.

Night falls slowly.
And a wind of roses blows.
Let me whisper a song for you slowly,
A melody of love.

Dawn and the dove coos.
Your hair glistens with dew.
Your lips are as roses in the morning.
I will reach for them.

Original Hebrew

ערב של שושנים
נצא נא אל הבוסתן
מור בשמים ולבונה
.לרגלך מפתן

לילה יורד לאט
ורוח שושן נושבה
הבה אלחש לך שיר בלאט
.זמר של אהבה

שחר הומה יונה
ראשך מלא טללים
פיך אל הבוקר, שושנה
.אקטפנו לי

Transliteration

Erev shel shoshanim
Netzeh na el habustan
Mor besamim ulevona
Leraglech miftan

Layla yored le’at
Veru’ach shoshan noshvah
Havah elchash lach shir balat
Zemer shel ahava

Shachar homa yonah
Roshech maleh telalim
Pich el haboker shoshana
Ektefenu li

Yafa Yarkoni

The Dudaim

Miriam Makeba:

Harry Belafonte (Harry’s woke. These days he’d never sing an Israeli song, well if he still had a voice. I wish they had credited the harmonica player who does a fine job on the intro)

Nana Mouskouri (Hebrew)

Nana Mouskouri (Greek lyrics, not Moshe Dor’s)

Yafa Yarkoni (Spanish)

Dah/Land

Tiellä ken vaeltaa

The Parakit – Save Me (sample starts at 2:17)

4 Replies to “An Evening of Roses”

  1. AvatarJohn C.

    Interesting stuff. Evocative of the earlier Ottoman time when the whole area had Jews, Turks, Armenians, and Greeks with all sorts of cross pollination going on around the campfire at night.

    Reply
  2. AvatarAcd

    On an unrelated topic Ronnie it’s great seeing you at Hagerty, that other site missed the boat by not utilizing your talents more.

    Reply
  3. AvatarBen Johnson

    Thanks for sharing this… I can’t say I really like the tune, but the back story makes me appreciate it a lot.

    Reply

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