Nostalgia Sunday – Mike Brant

August 23, 2009 - 3:27 PM by

It would be an understatement to say that the American influence in Israel is huge. TV shows, movies, music, fashion, fast-food and retail chains… let’s face it: all that’s missing is Target and WalMart. And Cosco. But back in olden times – the 1950s, 60s and 70s – Europe held far more sway over Israeli cultural tastes.

One Israeli pop singer who truly made it in terms of international success was Mike Brant. Who?, you ask, and I answer: Shame on you for not knowing about one of Israel’s most famous exports of all time! A sex-on-legs power balladeer, Brant achieved international fame in the early 70’s, mainly in France, which is why folks from the US never heard of him. But Quebecers did – take a look at this crowd of Canadians as they sit, transfixed, while their idol sings his biggest hit from 1970 “Laisse-moi t’aimer” (“Let me love you”).

Can you believe those pipes as he hits the high notes. Unbelievable. And he makes it looks so easy. No wonder that when French actress Sylvie Vartan caught Brant’s act in a Teheran night club (yes, that Teheran), she immediately invited him to come and meet French producer Jean Renard, who had made Johnny Halliday into a star. And if you don’t know who Johnny Halliday is, then again, shame on you and click here.

Brant’s string of hits included “Qui Saura”, a French version of “Que Sera” that José Feliciano had performed at the San Remo Music Festival. And if you don’t know what the San Remo Music Festival is, I have no words. How have you managed to evade these major cultural milestones till now? Just click here.

Play that song for any Israeli woman aged 45 and over, and she’ll begin singing and weeping at the same time. Why cry? Because Brant’s life ended tragically, rock star style, with a descent into drugs and a purported suicide in 1975 at the age of 28 when fell or jumped from a Paris hotel room window. Mike BrantSupposedly, his Haifa grave is a site for fan pilgrimages. I don’t know, I haven’t been. What is for certain is that he is greatly revered by Israelis of a certain age who recall the European cachet that Moshe “Mike Brant” Brand imparted to us. So close your eyes, lean back, clear your mind of all previous prejudices and repeat after me: “I love Europop… I love Europop,” and enjoy.

A long biography of Brant, written in pidgin English but with great photos, can be found here.

Comments

2 Comments on Nostalgia Sunday – Mike Brant

  1. David-Joe on Wed, Aug 26th 2009 4:13 AM
  2. Allowing such influence stems from the lack of national self-esteem.

    Here’s a thought – why not be yourself?

    The greatest day would be when Israel did not want to mimick the United States, but be like France – independent from everyone, self-reliant, considering its own culture as the standard.

    But then Isarel must first wean itself off the money America sends to Israel every year.

    Greatest regret is that it now has a Prime Minister that sounds American when speaking English – at least he still sounds Israeli when he speaks Hebrew.

    Although in terms of socio-economic issues Israel is still more associated with Europe and it has a national health system and so on.

    The American immigrants like to imagine that they are shaping Israel and of course the yankee orthodox are amongst the real settler nutcases these days.

  3. Mig Savard on Wed, Mar 3rd 2010 3:36 AM
  4. My comment is on Mike Brant, I don’y think that politics should be discussed when speaking or thinking about him or where he was born, He was an entertainer and as such, he left his politics aside .Two years ago I discovered Mike Brant while in France, and I’ve been hooked ever since by that beautiful voice with such clarity and sonority, and feel so sad about his tragic end……..I can’t listen to him without a pinch in my heart and tears in my eyes, the music world has lost one of its best if not the best in his field and we are the poorer for it………

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