My Friend Hafiz

by The Levins

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about

It is a wonderful disc. Congratulations for bringing to life not only the words of Hafez but also his spirit, through your music. I am really enjoying the disc; I find it uplifting...some welcome clarity and light in these rather dark times.
all the best,
Julie Miller, Canada
CFLX Sherbrooke, QC

We don't know much about the life of the fourteenth century Iranian poet known popularly as Hafiz, but his influence, especially in Iran and Afghanistan has been
long-lasting and profound.  In those countries, copies of his writings are ubiquitous, his poetry is often incorporated into music and his sayings have become well known proverbs.  Even outside that region though, the writings of Hafiz have generated interest, including here in the United States where he was discussed by luminaries like Henry David Thoreau and Ralph Waldo Emerson .   His poetry has also been an inspiration for contemporary songwriters, including Ira and Julia Levin, who adapted the poems of Hafiz into lyrics for the songs for their album My Friend Hafiz.

The Levins are no strangers to ancient sources.  Their first album - 36 - which they released in 2008- was a collection of original songs based on themes from the Jewish Tanach and Talmud, so perhaps it's not surprising that in 2009 they decided to base their next CD on the writings of  a Sufi mystic.   And  they've done a remarkable job of it - making  accessible with lush arrangements and lilting rhythms the poet's universal themes of love and forgiveness.

Four years after it's original release, The Levins decided to reissue My Friend Hafiz with two bonus tracks, which make the album all the more attractive.  We're going to hear one of those bonus tracks, but let's start off with a song called Dropping Keys, which opens the album.  Here's Ira Levin on guitar and vocals, Julia Levin on piano and vocals, along with T. Hallenbeck on cello, Aharon Bolsta playing indian flute, tabla and other percussion, Ian Shields on cajon and bongos, Elizabeth Stuart on zarb, shaker and pennywhistle, Dina Maccabee on violin, and Payam Agheli on the Persian flute known as the ney....


One of the love poems of a Sufi mystic turned into a beautiful love song for us by Ira and Julia Levin, from their newly reissued and expanded CD - My Friend Hafiz.  We also heard Troubled and we started off with Dropping Keys.   And if you'd like to know more about The Levins,  My Friend Hafiz and all their other music, you can find it all at their website - thelevinsmusic dot com - and Levin by the way is spelled l e v i n

- Butch Kara - KZGM/ Cabool, MO

If you're looking for music to soothe your spirit and lift your soul, this album would be a good choice.
The artfully blended voices of Ira Levin and his wife Julia Bordenaro Levin are the perfect vehicle for translating the uplifting poetry of the Sufi master Hafiz for modern listeners. There's magic, beauty and wisdom in these lyrics, and the accompanying instruments support rather than overpower them.
The lyrics exude love, compassion and brotherhood without being syrupy or simplistic.
Hafiz was a 14th-century mystic whose poetry inspires joy and promotes peace within the individual and with others, regardless of faith or ethnicity. His poetry has been widely translated. David Ladinsky translated and published a modern collection titled The Gift in 1999. When Ira Levin received a copy for his birthday in 2005 he was inspired to begin composing songs and music based on the poetry. This album is the result.
The singers are supported by an ensemble including Aharon Wheels Bolsta, T. Hallenbeck, Elizabeth Stuart, Ian Kay Shields, Dina Macabee and Payamj Agheli combining an array of traditional and ethnic instruments.
John Lindermuth Rambles.net

credits

released November 22, 2014

Music inspired by Daniel Ladinsky's renderings of the poetry of 14th century mystic poet, Hafiz of Shiraz.

The Levins are: Ira Scott Levin and Julia Bordenaro Levin
Lyrical Adaptation: Ira Scott Levin
Music by The Levins
Produced by: The Levins
Recorded in San Francisco, CA at Broken Radio Studios and Different Fur.
Engineers: Chris Fletcher and Carly Benham
Mixed by Chris Fletcher
Mastered by: Capitol records by Robert Vogien
Album Design and Layout: Brody Lowe

Bonus: Tracks:
Produced by The Levins
Recorded at : Mark Dann Studios (NYC, Woodstock, NY)
Mied and Mastered by: Mark Dann
www.markdannrecording.com

All musicians are listed on the tracks.

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Track Name: Dropping Keys
Dropping Keys
Hafiz/Ladinsky/Levin © 2013

Chorus
I am one of many, I’m not one alone.
When I sing from the center of my soul
I shine like a diamond in the old king’s throne.  Ah –ha!  Hey, hey!
I shine like a diamond in the old king’s throne.

The small minded man locks up everyone he knows
But the sage ducks his head when the moon is low.
And all night long he’s dropping keys,
To the beautiful prisoners at his knees.
All those beautiful rowdy prisoners must be freed!  Chorus

Doubt came along and captured me and he stuck me in a trunk at the bottom of the sea.
The wise old sage had mercy on me and his words of wisdom set me free.
All those beautiful words of wisdom set me free. Chorus

The king takes a diamond off his throne and he sticks it in the ground where the seeds are sown
and up from the ground comes a groove of trees sprouting words to the wise in the shape of keys.
The poet and the wise man climbing trees so they can sing us songs like these. Chorus

END: Ah-ha, hey, hey- Shine like a diamond in the old king’s throne!
Track Name: The Sun Never Says
The Sun Never Says
Hafiz/Ladinsky/Levin © 2013

Even after all this time, the sun never says to the earth: “You owe me!”, “You owe me!”
Look what you can do with a love like that… It lights up the whole sky – hi hi- hi hi – hi hiiii

Chorus -
I give to you and you give to me, it raises us up and allows us to see
When I give to you and you give too, then it frees me ―I can see me and you.

Even after all this time, the river never says to the sea, “You owe me!”, “You owe me!”
Look what you can do with a love like that…It covers the whole earth with life- hi hi- hi hi- hi hiii

Chorus - Bridge: When I give then I get so much more than I give,
when I give then I get so much more. (4x)

Look what you can do with a love like this, . . . it covers the whole sky with bliss Hi hi- hi hi- hi hiiii

Chorus - END: And it frees me, I can see me and you. Even after all this time…
Track Name: Your Mother and My Mother
Your Mother and My Mother
Hafiz/Ladinsky/Levin © 2013

We’re all renting rooms in this house, fear is the cheapest one here.
I’d like to see you in a room in this house, one with a little more cheer.
For I know the Inn Keeper who runs this galaxy, happy to help you with one word from me.
Tonight get some rest and let your heart mend, sing me tomorrow, we’ll go see my friend

Chorus:
For your mother and my mother are/were good friends who cared for each other
Your heart and my heart, belonged to each other right here from the start.
END: Old, old friends, very, very old friends

We’re all renting rooms in this house, joy is the finest one here.
We can explore all the rooms in this house, with a view that is forever clear.
For I know the Inn Keeper who runs this galaxy, the drinks will be flowing tonight and they’re free.
To leave a tip of a generous size —let love and playfulness show in your eyes.

Chorus –
END: Send that thought up with your heart wide open, somewhere, something good will happen (2x)

Chorus – END: #1 & #2
Track Name: When the Violin
When the Violin Hafiz/Ladinsky/Levin © 2013

When the violin can begin to forgive the past - it starts singing.
When the violin can begin to stop worrying what the future will bring - it starts laughing.

Lean down and comb me into your hair. Let me know, let me know you are there.

When the violin, can begin to forgive all the wounds that the others are bringing - it starts singing:

Yi li yi li li li li- Yi li li li li li li END: When the violin can begin
Track Name: A Root in Each Act and Creature
A Root In Each Act and Creature
Hafiz/Ladinsky/ Levin © 2013

Sun’s eyes are painting fields again.
Disguised eyelashes sweep the land.
Embraced by sunlight’s masquerade,
The Earth’s a canvas on parade.

Chorus:
If just a little clay and water in a bowl
Reveals these wonders to behold…
What new delights will soon unfold?
The endless petals of the soul.

One heart resides in everything
Renew your body, hear it sing.
Each act and creature we perceive
Has roots in one who can conceive.

Chorus. The endless petals of the soul,
The endless petals of the soul…

Sun’s eyes are painting fields again.
Disguised eyelashes sweep the land.
Illuminated scents and sounds
Exquisite whirling forms abound.

Chorus. The endless petals of the soul,
The endless petals of the soul…

Sun’s eyes are painting fields again.
Track Name: Like a Life Giving Sun
Like a Life-Giving Sun- Hafiz/Ladinsky/Levin © 2013

You could be, you could be- a great horseman

Help to free, help to free us all from the state that we're in…

What if you and prayer become sweet lovers?

What if you and love become one?

It’s naïve, it’s naïve to believe we’re not in battle.

And I grieve, as the brave fall like cattle.

Fall in pain, gone insane
- the brave are falling like rain.

You could be, you could be
– a victorious horseman.

And carry your heart through this world.

Help to free yourself and this world

Carry your heart through this world like a life giving sun.

What if you and love became sweet lovers?

What if you and love became one?

(So below -as above -Sweet love )

Don’t sit grieving.

Go where you’re needed

Carry your heart through this world like a life giving sun.

You could be, you could be, a great horseman.

Carry your heart through this world.

Help to free yourself and this world

Carry your heart through this world like a life giving sun.

What if you and love became one?
Track Name: Act Great
Act Great
Hafiz/Ladinsky/Levin © 2013

What is the key to unlock your mind?

To untie the knot of suffering blind?

What is the secret to silence the madness?

That tramples the landscape, the heart’s tender bliss?

That imprisons the eye with all its denied,

from the cold golden idol to the forbidden kiss?

My Friend Hafiz whispers two words

Bridge: Two little words with the beauty of birds

With the beauty of emeralds of angels and light.

Two words that restored me and gave my eyes sight.


Chorus: Act great, act great, act great act- Great!

Whatever life hands you, you don’t have to wait.

Act great, act- great!

One act of kindness can overcome fate.

Always act great my dear- act great.


What is the cure to this poisoned well?

Where is the ladder placed here when we fell?

What is now sacred and how shall I care?

What can I cling to as true as my true love’s hair? Bridge & Chorus.

Benevolent thought, benevolent sound, benevolent movement round and around-
Chorus.

Always act great my dear- Always act great my dears- Always act

Great my dear- act great.
Track Name: Forgive the Dream
Forgive the Dream
Hafiz/Ladinsky/Levin ©2013
I see your sky is winter and know your wounds that will not heal

You long for the warmth of a perfect one’s circle

Only complete when (your) love becomes real.

Your hands, feet and heart are wise

Still (there are/the) tears (that/they) sting your eyes

See through to view the formless brow that allows this universe to rise

Chorus:

Are you still listening to that old alley song- that brings you such pain-

That goes on so long?

Chain your ears to hear this gentle stream- until you can forgive this dream.

We can drink wine from a gourd that I hollowed in my house.

We can eat cheese from a calf that I raised up by myself.

We can feast on this truth through out the night

We can break bread on a carpet made of light.

A true saint is an Earth in eternal spring.

Hafiz is a poet whose song I sing

Inside the veins of a petal of a redbud tree are hidden worlds where he may be.

Chorus.

Your wounds of love will finally heal

Forgive this dream and become real.
And become real.
Become real.
Track Name: Every Child
Every Child-Hafiz/Ladinsky/Levin © 2013


Every child has known God

That’s quite a claim.

For they don’t know God as a God of names,

A God of Don’ts, a God of Shame,

Of stormy moods or any strange behavior,

Not a king or a queen, a giant tyrant or savior,

But every child knows God,

Not as someone they can see,

But one who only knows four words:

Come Dance with me!
Come Dance with me!
Come Dance- Come Dance
Come Dance-
With me.
Come Dance with me!
Track Name: Troubled
Troubled- Hafiz/Ladinsky/Levin © 2013

Troubled? Stay with me- I’m not.

Lonely? Play with me. I’ve got—two ancient caves

behind my eyes where true love lies.

Chorus
Write them all down- all your worries and your fears

Even from a thousand years

I will lean into today, and the flame inside my heart

will burn them all away.

Frightened? Be with me- and cope.

Weary? Dance with me- there’s hope.
“If I wrote my troubles down,

they would wind this earth around.”

Offer them in prayer and in a flash- they’re holy ash, incense in the air-

And we’ll rise and we’ll rise until all the earth and sky disappear with your fear

And we’ll sing and be the space containing everything.

Write them all down all your worries and your fears even from a thousand years

I will lean into today, and the flame inside my heart will burn them all away.
Track Name: Old Sweet Beggar
Old Sweet Beggar
Lyric: Hafiz/ Ladinsky/ Levin  Music- The Levins  © 2013

Once I was envied as having what seemed to be all you could want to possess
People revered me, Powerful feared me, but soon all I wanted was less. 

I gave up privilege, feathers of vanity
Begging for change and filled with desire to be:
Kindness, humility, peace, and tranquility - Kindness, humility, peace, and tranquility

Chorus:
Love turned me into a sweet old beggar.
Love itself fell into my bowl
I rose from the ditch, (now I am) infinitely rich
All that is left is one goal –one goal, -one goal . . .
All I want to do is empty my emerald filled pockets on this tear stained world for you.
—empty my emerald filled pockets on this tear stained world for you

Chorus - END: For you, for you, for you. (2x)   This love, this love, this love. (3x)
Track Name: Chorus of the Eye (Mashuq)
The Chorus in the Eye
lyrics: Hafiz/ Ladinsky/ Levin  Music: The Levins © 2013

Your Eye has a melody we want to hear.
The sun and moon will gladly wear robes and sway like children at play;
when the Pir directs light, when the saint conducts sight.
Slipping magic into sounds, won’t you pour them in the ground?
of the earth’s bruised ear. Can’t you hear?
Mashuq, Mashuq ―Mashuq! Sweetheart, Sweetheart, you are my counterpart.

Hafiz won’t you whisper of luminous bliss
that kisses each traveller through time
won’t you tell all the world of nature sublime
“Yes” (he says,) “I will.” (Listen,) he is whispering still.
Slipping magic into sounds, won’t you pour them in the ground?
of the earth’s bruised ear. Can’t you hear?
Mashuq, Mashuq ―Mashuq! Sweetheart, Sweetheart, you are my counterpart.

Love is royalty moving ceaselessly. The chorus in the heart needs to sing
like the tuned clay drum humming all day long to everything:
Mashuq, Mashuq ―Mashuq! Mashuq, Mashuq ―Mashuq! Mashuq! Mashuq!