Welcome to the Audiotopia again! Through the last few months, and with the advance of years passing without any new posts here at my music blog, I realised that I am more of a collector than I had ever thought I might be. To wit, back in 1993 I started crate digging around the dirty and dusty streets of the Jordanian capital here in Amman, and used to come across some rare gems, but I didn't really give it much of a mind back then: it was fun to go every weekend and see what's on offer at the now-closed fleamarket 'Pit' or jourah as it's called in Jordanian. Every country on the face of Earth has one of these for sure, some even has multiple erm 'pits'. Yet, throughout my digging routine, I wasn't paying too much of an attention to the importance of the burgeoning vinyl market back then; which now bodes as one of the fastest growing markets in the music industry. Little by little, I am getting back in shape after quitting my day job as a teacher and a translator to focus more on the collection and archiving, as well as selling of some of the world's rarest finds when it comes to crate digging. And, in the last three months ever since I've begun dedicated my entire time and effort; even when I was afflicted by a chronic heart disease that forbids me from exerting any duress and/or stress, I have managed to make it through bringing home hundreds of lost records from literally abject neglect and discard, among these are some of the rarest Egyptian and Syrian early 'renaissance' musicians 78 shellacs, numerous 45s, and many LP albums that started growing and growing so much that I thought, "Well, why not provide a glimpse of these rare records to the world through the Audiotopia, and maybe offer some on the Internet, too for sale to put fuel in the whole process and make it self-sustaining all though"? And, lo and behold, yesterday I placed my first ever LP for sale on eBay.com: A rare-as-a-two-tailed-lizard Lebanese political rock first album by the band Ferkat Al-Ard (Arabic: فرقة الأرض), titled "أغنية" that was issued on the unbelievably rare and collectors' must-own label 'Zida' that Ziad Rahbani has cow-owned along with Lebanese-Armenian Katchig Mardirian as a producer; who was Lebanon's first record seller and his son, Diran Mardirian is still carrying the legacy of his late father on and on selling records and DVDs in his Sadat street shop named aptly after the nickname of his father 'Chico's'. This record was pressed in 1979 and has few copies than anyone could ever possibly imagine so much the son of the ex-owner of the label himself; Diran, places this LP on his want-list at Discogs! It's in neat, perfect shape and beautiful collector-grade condition with absolutely preserved and beautiful gate-fold cover. So, in case you want to start seeing these records put on for sale, and wish to try for some, here is the chance. I am putting from now on every record's scans as they become available on a new post here and the rest is yours to decide. This is the first one:
Who is Umm-Kalthoum? Some of you might be asking now... Well, here are some few inauguratory words on the occasion of the 39th Anniversary of her death.
A photo-collage I made especially for the memory of Umm.
Many tried to be like her, but many fell short of being half her glory.
There wasn't a single performer; be they male or female, who had her Voice; who possessed of her magic.
Umm-Kalthoum stood firm as 'The Fourth Pyramid' in the Egyptian land of the Nile, and died there standing like a giant thirty-nine years ago today.
Some even call her, though as the 'First Pyramid', while most do refer to her as Kawkab Asharq ('The Eastern Star'), and Arabs love to just call her "el-Sett", or simply, 'The Lady'.
I have become very interested in collecting all of el-Sett's live concerts, lately—those rare acts of sheer ecstasy unseen anywhere in the realm of music whether modern or old, or in between. And, I am so very proud and chuffed to see my personal collection growing way past the 500 live performances (sometimes reaching an apex of 24 different renditions for the same 'piece').
It fills me with happiness to also be an Arab who understands the words that many poets and song-writers have worked so hard to arrange and attribute to this wonderful Lady of The East. Only last year, I entertained the thought of translating some of the poems that she sang, and my first, humble attempt was 'Aghadan Alkaq' (Words: Al-Hady Adam; a Sudanese poet, Composed by Mohammed Abdel-Wahab):
Tomorrow, Shall I Meet You?
أغداً ألقاك؟ يا خوف فؤادي من غدٍ
shall I meet you? Oh, how my heart trembles of that day!
يا لشوقي وإحتراقي في إنتظار الموعد
the eagerness and how I burn in return,
آه كم أخشى غدي هذا وأرجوه إقترابا
how I fear this Tomorrow of mine, and I beseech it not to delay;
كنت أستدنيه لكن هبته لما أهابا
used to tempt it to try, but it bickered as I,
وأهلت فرحة القرب به حين استجابا
the joy of its being near was there when it’d finally obey.
- - -
هكذا أحتمل العمر نعيماً وعذابا
is how I take this world; with both bliss and pain,
مهجة حرة وقلباً مسه الشوق فذابا
With a burning ember, and a heart melted upon the touch of its own strain,
أنت يا جنة حبي واشتياقي وجنوني
the garden of my love; my wantonness, and me being insane;
أنت يا قبلة روحي وانطلاقي وشجوني
the pilgrimage for my soul; my fecundity, and my chagrin,
أغداً تشرق أضواؤك في ليل عيوني
it be the day when your lights would brighten the night of my eyes, again?
آه من فرحة أحلامي ومن خوف ظنوني
the lustful dreams! The fear of my doubtful schemes!
- - -
كم أناديك وفي لحني حنين ودعاء
I call upon thee in such melodies and how I please!
آه رجائي أنا كم عذبني طول الرجاء
this hope of mine; I was tortured by its stay,
أنا لو لا أنت لم أحفل بمن راح وجاء
without you; wouldn’t care who’s here and who’s gone away;
أناأحيا لغد آن بأحلام اللقاء
live for a Tomorrow drenched in dreams of meeting today,
فأت أو لا تأتي أو فإفعل بقلبي ما تشاء.
come or don’t, or just do whichever that you please to do with my heart... it’s
- - -
هذه الدنيا كتاب أنت فيه الفكر
life is a book and you are its only thought;
هذه الدنيا ليال أنت فيها العمر
life is just nights you are their days brought;
هذه الدنيا عيون أنت فيها البصر
life is made of eyes you are their only light;
هذه الدنيا سماء أنت فيها القمر
This life is a sky you are its shining moon caught;
فإرحم القلب الذي يصبو إليك
So, have mercy on this heart only you it sought,
.فغداً تملكه بين يديك
Tomorrow, and in between your palms you’ll hold it taut.
- - -
وغداً تأتلف الجنة أنهاراً وظلاّ
And, Tomorrow we shall enthrall the garden’s rivers and shade;
وغداً ننسى فلا نأسى على ماضٍ تولّى
And, Tomorrow we shall forget as not to regret a past forayed;
وغداً نزهو فلا نعرف للغيب محلا
And, Tomorrow we will thrill as the unknown won’t have a place;
وغداً للحاضر الزاهر نحيا ليس إلا
And, Tomorrow we shall live only for today’s grace;
.قد يكون الغيب حلواً إنما الحاضر أحلى
Yes, true what we don’t know might be sweet, still today stays a sweeter treat.
Umm-Kalthoum's music can be found all over the web, off the web, practically everywhere, but most of her music that is put on CD (and, before that as LPs), was a mere hotchpotch of her Premiere performance, usually cut and pasted into smithereens of disjointed 'couplets', and the result always ended far shorter than the original, full-length performance that normally stretched the two-hour mark.
So, I shall include some of her concert-live 'perfumances' (Note: credit goes to a 72-year-old lady who has the same name of Umm, for coining this portmanteau). These links below were originally sent to this wonderful woman who breathes the beauty of Umm-Kalthoum, and knows the magical infestations of her musical works of art. To you, 'Umm', I shall dedicate this post and the music content inside for everybody.
Enjoy downloading for the moment, while I shall go back to my busy day remembering such a gloriously grand lady as that of Umm-Kalthoum with music, love, and most of all prayers for peace to see the light again in that beautifully ageless land of Egypt where a lot of innocent blood was shed as of late. Music unites us not religions, and never countries and false chauvinism.
May the eternal Light of God shine on that Biblical land again... This time, forever.