In this article I explore the aesthetics and political valence of shirei meshorerim (SM), a body of Israeli sung poetry that emerged out of a series of radio programs, festivals, and recording projects beginning in the 1970s and drawing on long-standing local practices in both Palestine/Israel and contemporary Mediterranean sung-poetry movements. I argue that the development of SM was characterized by an aesthetic distinction, wherein the high cultural register of poetry—a value produced by both the domestic discourse on art vis-à-vis politics and the broader global discourse in which the local field was embedded—and an associated move to cosmopolitanize music production contributed to the “cultural accreditation” of post-1967 pop-rock in Israel. This article explores what poetry meant for song, and vice versa, in Israel during the 1970s and 1980s through sociopolitical analysis and close listening to the text-setting practices and stylistic affinities of two musicians strongly identified with SM: Matti Caspi and Shlomo Gronich.

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