Sunday, January 16, 2005

By the river of Babylon...

Yesterday, the Guardian published this article about the damage to the site of Babylon as the result of war. Isn't it sad the way this war is destroying lives and history, both at such a fast pace? I guess it's not Ishtar who sits on the saddle of the lion, it is U.S. helicopters.
Here is the song, "al-atlal" (ruins) by Om Kalthoum...

P.S. This is an excerpt from a site about Om Kalthoum for those of you who are wondering what the song is about:
"'Al Atlal' (1966) is a particularly famous work from this period. The text is a love poem, but the words were commonly given other interpretations. Virginia Danielson writes: "Several of the climactic lines took on political meaning: 'Give me my freedom, set free my hands! I have given freely, I have held back nothing. Ah, how your chains have made my wrist bleed. . . .' In 1966, these lines were perceived by some as addressed to the repressive measures of 'Abd al-Nasir's government. After the Egyptian defeat of 1967, they took on a wider meaning, suggestive of the bondage in which many Egyptians felt the entire Arab world to be held." (Voice of Egypt, p. 180) The title itself translates as "The Ruins" or "The Traces." The piece draws heavily on Western classical music, but long stretches of it rock or swing with Arabic rhythms. Instrumentation includes a violin section, a prominently featured upright bass, and kanun. Though late in her career, Kalthoum's singing is quite powerful throughout this work, which is extremely dramatic even by her standards. Kalthoum's vocal delivery is relatively straight, with few obvious improvisatory digressions."


The sidebar image is taken from Mahmoud Pakzad's "Old Tehran", Did Publishers, 1994. Thanks to Jahanshah Javid (www.iranian.com) for sharing it.

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