Friday, July 28, 2006

Blues in My Heart

Blues in My Heart
Originally uploaded by tsweden.

For some reason, today I felt like hearing Elmore James' "Sunnyland Blues." So I dug into my record collection and drug out this LP. After I listened, I noticed the cover, and was reminded that I had bought it in Beirut, Lebanon, in '73 or '74. I lived there between 1964 and 1976. Those were great years and also crazy years; Beirut was wonderful, cosmopolitan, and yet the gap between rich and poor seemed to be growing and one could foresee a social explosion, which came in the form of horrendous civil war in 1975 and which eventually forced me, along with many others, to flee. Among other things, I played in a blues band, The Bliss Street Blues Band, from 1973-75. (See a photo here.) The group played a reunion gig in summer 2003 in London, which I made it to, and this summer in Beirut, at the end of June. (For various reasons, I didn't make it.) The band members, including George Bisharat, fortunately all made it out before Israel started blowing up Lebanon again. I've not been able to get back to Lebanon since 1976. This would have been a good summer to go; now maybe it'll be 10 years more before on would want to go again.

Lebanon is being blown up, and I've got blues in my heart. (But maybe not rhythm in my soul!)

Note the yellow label, which says "Prix imposé au Liban 12 LL" (price in Lebanon, 12 Lebanese pounds, a little less than $4 at that time.)

I bought quite a few blues album's at Beirut's record stores in those days. I even own an Etta James album that was made in Lebanon. That's how cosmopolitan it was.

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