Saturday, March 01, 2014

Yasmine Hamdan, "Beirut" (from the forthcoming album)

Back in 2012, I posted (on one of my other blogs, mepop) about Yasmine Hamdan's self-titled album, released in Lebanon and France in 2012, and the song "Beirut" from the album.  Here is the video that came out at that time.

The lyrics were posted as well, which I've copied below.

شرب العرق
 شرب العرق
 لعب الورق
 خيل السبق
 صيد الحمام
 رسمال بيروت

 لبس الغوى
 شم الهوى
 اكل الهوى
 شاغل عقول
 سكان بيروت

 زهرة من غير أوانها
محلاها ومحلا زمانها
 يا حينها وياضيعانها

 ما في عمل
 ما في امل
 برك الجمل
 ركب النحس
 تجار بيروت

كتر البطر
 هالك بيروت

Arak drinkin'

Card playin'
Racehorse cheerin'

Pigeon huntin'

The essence of Beirut

Seduction crowd

Cruisin' around
Foolin' about

Tis' all there is on the minds
Of the citizens of Beirut


A flower off its terrain

Oh her beauty, her good old days


That dire end, all a waste


All unemployed
Ruined and rusted
Jinxed and accursed
Those dealers of Beirut

Oh the strutting
That fancy livin'
Excess of splurging
Exploded vanity
Smothering Beirut

Now, finally, the album (under the title Ya Nass) is being released in the US, on March 25, from the Crammed Discs label. Why the wait? Who knows? Why now? Maybe to coincide with the appearance of Yasmine in Jim Jarmusch's film Only Lovers Left Alive, which I posted about a couple weeks ago.

Here's some promo about the "new" album. In it we learn that the lyrics to "Beirut" were adapted from a poem written in the 1940s by poet Omar El Zenni. And there is new video, about which the promo tells us: "Yasmine Hamdan and her director Nadim Asfar used footage from super 8 films which were purchased in a Lebanese souk by one of Yasmine's friends, who collects them. These films were shot in various eras (from the 40s to the 70s), and are bringing these bygone times back to life." Check it out. If you've lived in Beirut, like I have, you will really like that super 8 footage.

We also learn from the promo that the song "Hal" from the album which is not on the French/Lebanese version, and this is the song that Yasmine does in the Jarmusch film. You can check it out here.

The very sharp observer Hammer commented on my earlier post. He has seen the movie, he doesn't think much of Yasmine's singing (I don't agree but I understand why he is critical). Here's what he says about the song: "The whole gig is a way to ride a now-defunct wave of using qaraqeb in pop music. [i.e. it incorporates Gnawa percussion]. Her song which she sang is not a song actually: It's a medley of words taken from old, '40s songs that most Arabs still hum and sing. The anachronistic twist is that, most Moroccans do not sing these songs or maybe know of them, as their musical tastes veer off into the malhoun and the ever-present chaabi." 

That is to say, the scene where she sings is set in Tangier, but she isn't singing Moroccan music. Unfortunately, you can't ever imagine that US directors like Jarmusch would ever care about such things. He heard Yasmine's music, he met her, she's an know.

Here is the list of songs on the album, via iTunes. This is what the cover looks like:

 And here's the cover of the 2012 album. 

And here's more about Yasmine and the Lebanese album, from Kwaidan Records. 

I can't find a tracklist online right now for the 2012 version, so here it is: 

1. In Kan Fouadi          
2. Beirut      
3. Samar       
4. Baaden           
5. Ya Nass        
6. Irss       
7. Nediya       
8. Nag          
9. Shouei       
10. La Mouch       
11. Bala Tantanat         
You can check out the song "Deny" here (not on album 1). Also "Khalas" (not on album 1) here. "Samar," on album one, and two, here. "In Kan Fouadi," on one and two here.


Rocket said...

You are being unduly harsh towards a sensitive film maker like Jarmusch. The character, Eve, specifically states that Yasmine is Lebanese during her scene.

Ted Swedenburg said...

Perhaps so, haven't yet been able to see the film. Still, the song and Yasmine's appearance is being received as if it was 'indigenous' and the distinction that you and I are aware of is not much noted, at least as far as I've seen.

Ted Swedenburg said...

I've just seen the film and of course Rocket is correct, Eve does tell Adam that Yasmine is Lebanese.

el_azeta said...

And as I recall Adam also states listening her singing... "That she will become famous "