Mezrab maitre d’, Sahand Sahebdivani, brings us this week’s Music Monday Mixtape. He’s chosen the theme of “music for the revolution”.
Revolutions are fought with blood and tears, but also with the creativity of artists. There isn’t a struggle that doesn’t have songs to stir the emotions, and urge young and old to join the fight and not to despair, even if the situation seems hopeless. With the Middle East in turmoil Mezrab brings you our personal pick of songs of defiance to start your week with.
Egypt / Ya El Meydan / Cairokee
Tahrir Square, or simply “the Square” (El Meydan) has become the symbol of the Egyptian revolution. It gave the world a great visual image of the struggle. Al Jazeera cameras showed us day and night how people gathered on the square to camp and shout slogans, share food, sing songs and even get engaged and married, all the time while risking attack by police and military (and in one instance thugs on the backs of horses and camels). A year has passed since Mubarak was driven off, but many Egyptians unsatisfied with how the revolution has progressed so far, have taken to the Square again.
Ya El Meydan (Oh Square!) is a song about the hopes and dreams of a nation, wrapped in a love song for a square.
Syria / Yalla Get Out Bashar! / Ibrahim Qashoush
When Ibrahim Qashoush, fireman, part-time poet and father of three wrote this energetic, emotional and sometimes funny song against the rule of Syria’s Basher Assad he had no idea it would become the anthem of a revolution that’s still ongoing today. The government’s response was brutal. Qashoush reportedly was found with his throat cut and his vocal chords ripped out. His song’s still sung however, wherever people gather to protest.
Kurdistan / Kine Em? / Sivan Perver
Kine Em? Who Are We? asks Sivan Perver, the voice of a struggle that’s centuries old. In the song he gives the answer himself: a lively volcano, fire and dynamite in the face of our enemies: corrupt Shahs, Mullahs and military Juntas. It’s a powerful image, seeing him perform in front of a sea of listeners.
Iran / Agha Negah Dar! (Hey Man, Pull Over!) / Kiosk
For Iran, the country we know best, it was hard to pick a revolutionary song. When in 2009 the people took to the streets to contest the crooked elections the scenes were similar to what people remembered of the 1979 revolution. Subsequently the songs they sang at protests where the same as a generation before, bearing titles like “Winter has come to an end”, “Bird of Spring” and “Come join this road”, While they evoke memories for Iranians, the songs might not be so exciting to listen to by someone who doesn’t understand the language. Instead we’ve picked one of the works of Kiosk, a band that comments current affairs in clever lyrics mounted on a musical style everyone can relate to.
Iran / Allah Allah / Saman Arbabi Remix
The final song is a very personal choice and one that’s very hard to listen to by anyone who grew up in Iran. It also needs some context: The most popular Iranian television show of the moment is Parazit, An Iranian “Daily Show” recorded in the US which comically comments on Iranian politics. When the Iranian government started beating up, arresting and killing protesters in 2009 the guys from Parazit made one of their least funny but most powerful episodes, one in which they directly talked to the militias, asking them to think about their revolutionary ideals, and how they feel about them while beating up old men and women and young boys and girls. This episode opened with the song Allah Allah, a song that was blasted over the airwaves almost daily by the religious regime in the early years of the revolution. By mixing this propagandistic song with images of the revolution and a hypnotic groove Parazit producer Saman Arbabi has created a strange but powerful song that reminds us of the cyclical nature of revolutions.
Make sure to listen to this with your speakers full blast.