Adonis Diaries

National singer Fairuz (80): Older than Lebanon independence

Posted on: November 24, 2015

Happy 80th Birthday, Fairuz.

Dear Fairuz,

My first experience with Arabic music — perhaps music in general — came to me through you.

My mother used to sing “Yalla Tneim” to me, to put me to sleep, when I was still a toddler.

It was the only lullaby that would calm me down (and I was a particularly temperamental child, although my mum would probably deny this).

Incidentally, the timeless song still eases my racing, muddled thoughts, even though I’m well into my adulthood.

I’m fairly certain I speak to similar experiences for thousands — perhaps hundreds of thousands — when I share this.

My four brothers and I grew up in Ireland and the United Kingdom in the 1980s, but were frequently transported to Lebanon by way of the folk songs our mother would nostalgically play for us.

 Florence of Arabia shared this link

Fairuz turns 80 this weekend. I write a ridiculously cheesy love letter to her and pick some of my favourite Fairuz artwork and images from over the decades.

Mother often played your whimsical music from a small cassette player in the kitchen whilst cooking, telling us, proudly: “hayda Beirut. We’re in Beirut!” (We were, in fact, in the West Midlands at the time).”

‪#‎Lebanon‬ ‪#‎Fairuz‬ ‪#‎Beirut‬ ‪#‎Music‬ ‪#‎MiddleEast‬

This was how she — and so many others — connected with the wondrous and oft-overwhelming complexities of the motherland, even when it was in the midst of a brutal civil war.

We didn’t understand what conflict was, hadn’t the faintest idea what a “sect” was, or what it meant to be Lebanese or Arab, but we believed there was something special about our identity because of you.



I saw you once, more than ten years ago, at the American University of Beirut — from a distance — when you were awarded an honorary doctorate.

You were shy, quiet and reserved. You were physically there to accept the award, but you asked someone else to speak for you. I later learned this was not unusual.

We weren’t graced by your piercing voice at the time, but your presence struck the entire auditorium, nonetheless.

When you walked on stage, the applause was so loud, and so lengthy, you seemed gently perturbed by it. Almost like you didn’t want to acknowledge, or own, the legend that you’d become.

Almost like you were embarrassed by it.

At that particular point in time, when I naively subscribed to the tenacity of Lebanese patriotism, “Li Beirut” became one of my favourites, in all of its unabashed drama and intensity

Your music took on the role of a soundtrack to my late teens and my early twenties as I left south Lebanon for university and discovered Beirut (my family had returned to the country after the civil war subsided in the early 90s).

In this volatile coming-of-age context, your songs routinely pulled me toward romanticism and idealism.

For years, I was infatuated with “Ba3dak 3ala beli” and “Ahu Dalli Sar.” When I left the country again in 2006  — with a very heavy heart — I listened to your ballads on Arab nationalism almost every day.

On the gloomier the mornings in Manchester (and there were many),  your music helped me get out of bed and face the day.

A decade later, you continue to keep me company, mostly when I’m weighed down with homesickness.

As I sit in a bagel shop in Williamsburg, Brooklyn, writing this post, I’m listening to you sing “Ana ‘Aandi Hanin,” and I can’t help but think of the narrow, twisty and charming alleyways of Beirut.

Of the (once pleasant) scents and sounds of the bustling streets of the capital. Of my experience as a student at AUB, where I discovered liberalism along with the left-wing ballads of your son, Ziad.

And of Sunday lunch at my grandfather’s bistein in the South, which almost always involved ma7shi and argeeleh. 

[These thoughts almost render the bearded, skinny-jeaned hipster to my left invisible].

It’s a wonderful, palpable type of cognitive dissonance that I’ve grown accustomed to, as a [slightly reluctant] member of the Lebanese diaspora, over the years.

Earlier today, I listened to “Zahret Al Mada2en,” your dramatic, melancholic love letter to Jerusalem, on repeat.

The violence, the hatred, the political nuances: It all melts away with your voice.

In one of your songs, you ask your listeners to “visit” you, at least once a year. This is my way of doing just that (even though I listen to you several times a week).

Herewith is a collection of incredible photographs and images of you, spanning the decades, that I fell upon when scouring the internet. Call it my little Fairuz Shrine.

For this is what you are! A work of art — a Levantine opus — that continues to grow, year on year.

Happy Birthday, Nouhad Haddad.

I adored you as a child and as a teenager, and I continue to adore you as a young woman who pines for her homeland, just like my mother did, back in the eighties.

Adonis Bouhatab shared a link.
دقيت طل الورد عالشباك طل الورد عالشباك وينها؟ اتلبك وماعاد يحكي ماتت؟.. لتشو تخبي؟ انا وياك انا وياك انا وياك واحدنا يا ورد رح يبكي انت وانا يا ورد.. واحدنا …
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1 Response to "National singer Fairuz (80): Older than Lebanon independence"

Reblogged this on canisgallicus.

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adonis49

adonis49

adonis49

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