Monday, March 31, 2014

35 Years Ago Tonight - Halellujah!

This morning I woke up to the radio playing Halellujah. Thirty-five years ago on March 31st 1979, Israel hosted the Eurovision Song Contest for the first time and won for the second year running!

It was the 24th contest. In the era of three tv channels and before everyone had video, it was a night when everyone stayed in. In was an event on telly - a bit like a royal wedding but without a day off school.

It was an age of Eurovision innocence with only 19 countries participating. Turkey and Yugoslavia opted out for political reasons. Was this the beginning of the end? On the other hand, in a bizarre Eurovision karma, where is Yugoslavia today?

It was a time of dignified judging rather than the money grubbing telethon and mad dash across borders with multiple mobile phones stashed in the boot, that symbolize the contest today.

Even Israel, with Milk And Honey singing Halellujah, was a source of Eurovision pride with the emphasis on simple entertainment and the music rather than the over-the-top, all-dazzling extravaganza it produced in 1999. In fact, we declined to host it again in 1980 even though we won in 1979 - we couldn't afford it. It was the tail end of austerity and maybe the tail end of modesty.

These days I don't even bother to watch the three-ringed circus that Eurovision has become.

Here is Gali Atari and Milk And Honey singing Hallelujah in 1979.


  1. Loved this! I remember when the Eurovision Song Contest was an event too - and we all stayed in; I still remember the year Bucks Fizz won! And now it's all dodgy voting. It certainly isn't what it used to be! X

    1. I remember as fat back as Cliff Richard, Clodagh Rogers, and of course I saw Abba win with Waterloo. Ah, those were the days.