A Closer Look At Yael Naim: “Come Home”

October 7, 2011 at 2:16 pm, by

The cover of Yael Naim's 3rd CD: She Was a Boy.

When Yael Naim introduced “Come Home” at Le Poisson Rouge on May 9, the explanation truly came from the heart.

The story goes: when she left home (Israel) to pursue her dreams in France, Naim found herself depressed and homesick.

After quite some time suffering this malaise, the singer-songwriter met David Donatien. “David gave me good advice,” she told those of us in the audience. “He said, ‘Yael, don’t be sad.’”

David Donatien reminding Yael Naim not to be sad.

On “Come Home, the opening track of her latest CD, She Was a Boy, Naim’s piano plays a stride bass, and the percussion and plucked strings join in with cheerful and silly oom-pa rhythms.

Over this gleeful bounciness, a band of horns and a chorus of Yael Naims build up a suspended tension of harmonies.

Caught between pressure and comfort, Naim sings about a family spread out over multiple places and points of view: each person asking another to “come home.”

The dispersed nature of the many voices here and the vacillation between familial love and dysfunction all paint a poignant picture. This is not merely an illustration of Naim leaving Israel for France, this is the struggle for personal independence amidst tight family bonding.

Yael Naim searching.

Each time Naim sings, “Come home,” I imagine the distance between the static home and the moving self.

In Pirkey Avot, Rabban Gamliel (son of Rabbi Yehudah Hannasi) teaches, “ve’al tadin et chaverakh ad shettaggi’a limkomo” (“Do not judge your peer until you have arrived at your peer’s place”). In other words, do not judge someone unless you are standing where they are standing—in their place.

Yael Naim is not telling her family to back off. She is telling her family to come closer.

“Let’s try to look at each other / Find one another,” sings Naim. She wants her family to stand in her place. Only with this insight into the life of the other will Naim find shelom bayit—peace in the home.

Naim and Donatien.

Naim’s song is too catchy, too sad, and too happy for me to try to convey in words.

If you haven’t heard the song, don’t be sad. Listen to the song so you can arrive at the place where Yael Naim stands today. Then only can you judge.

To understand, you must come home.

P. S. I know it’s a bit disconnected, but whenever I watch the music video for Naim’s “Come Home,” I am reminded of the scene from Home For Purim in Christopher Guest’s mockumentary For Your Consideration.

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2 Comments So Far

  1. Sorta catchy, but sorta annoying. I expected more from your glowing write-up.
    The video actually made me dizzy – really vertigo! Too spinny and shaky.

    Diana Lerner, January 19, 2012 at 12:07 pm #
  2. I must say: the first time I watched the music video I felt that it didn’t convey the song as well as the song was conveyed on the album or live (and live was 5000x as amazing as the album; partially because of the audience participation in the song).

    Jonah Rank, January 19, 2012 at 12:41 pm #
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