El Sheikh Imam “Valerie Jescar Destin”

My finale must be my most favorite of all, El Sheikh Imam’s “Valerie Jescar Destin”. This song was first released in the 60s, after Valéry Giscard D’Estaing (1974 to 1981) became the elected French President.

It is a sarcastic song, you see people all around the Middle East were optimistic with D’Estaing in a manner similar to their optimism with Barrack Obama coming to office in our current days.

In a similar manner, too they were in for a huge bummer.

His program called for astonishing things like social justice, equality, and citizen rights.

What actually happened in his era is quite similar to Italian Prime Minister Silvio Berlusconi’s attitude toward Qazzaffi nowadays.

It is well known through history studies that there were two special incidents that mark D’Estaing’s presidency period.

First, his refusal to let Mokhtar Ould Daddah the appointed French Mauritanian Leader then, to be over thrown by Polisario Guerillas (the opposition then) under any circumstance whatsoever. This led him to launch “Operation Lamantin”, especially for Daddah’s aid. Daddah was over thrown anyway later on by his own army and D’Estaing was forced into an agreement with Sahrawi Resistance.

Second of all, and much more controversial is his involvement with Jean Bedel Bokassa’s Regime in the Central African Republic, which landed him in the middle of a diamond smuggling operation run by a dictator. He supported Bokassa’s Regime militarily and financially and when Bokassa fled all his money was wired to French banks.

D’Estaing was accused with accepting money and jewels in return for his backing up.

In addition, he was a capitalist who supported and called for the formation of the European Union and Open Markets.

That led to a never seen before percentages of unemployment similar to the ones witnessed after World War 2.

Overall, people expected candy and got sour lemon.

Ahmed Fouad Negm makes fun of D’Estaing in an incredibly entertaining poem that is sung by the one and only Sheikh Imam.

فاليري جسكار دستان

والست بتاعه كمان

حيجيب الديب من ديله

ويشبع كل جعان

يا سلاملم يا جدعان

ع الناس الجنتلمان

داحنا حنتمنجه واصل

وحتبقى العيشه جنان

التليفزيون حيلون

والجمعيات تتكون

والعربيات حتمون

بدل البنزين بارفان

وحتحصل نهضه عظيمه

وحتبقى علينا القيمه

في المرسح او في السينما

او ف جنينة الحيوان

وحتبقى الاشيا زلابيه

ولاحوجه لسوريا وليبيا

وحنعمل وحده أرابيا

مع لندن والفاتيكان

والفقرا حياكلوا بطاطا

وحيمشوا بكل ألاطه

وبدال مايسموا شلاطه

حيسموا عيالهم جان

ودا بفضل صديكي

ديستان الرومانتيكي

ولا حدش فيكو شريكي

في المسكن والسكان

 

 

Valerie Jescar Dystan

And his wife too

Will bring the wolf from his tail.

(A sarcastic expression in Arabic that means that they will do the undoable)

And feed every last hungry man

Hello, hello, hello

To all the gentlemen

We will see days and nights never seen before

And life will be just crazy

(In Arabic when you say life will be crazy it is like saying that life will be dandy for instance)

Televisions will be colored

And organizations formed

And cars will fuel

Instead of gasoline

Perfume

A great renaissance will take place

And we will finally be worth something

In theatre or cinema

Or even at the zoo

And making a living will be like Zalabia

(Zalabia is a sweet pastry very well known in Egyptian circles)

And we will never need Syria or Libya again

And an Arab Union will finally be formed

With London and the Vatican

The poor will eat sweet potato

And walk around all cocky

And instead of naming their children “Chalata”

(Chalata very vulgar name)

They will name their kids John

All that is thanks to my pal

The Romantic Dystan

And I will share with no one

 Nor Shelter Nor company

 

The End

 



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“We Shall Overcome” by Pink Floyd’s Roger Waters

Our fourth song is “We Shall Overcome” by Pink Floyd’s Roger Waters. The song was from his album “The Wall”. He performed the entire album in his Wall Live Tour (2010) that was estimated to have cost seven million and Waters stated that it most probably would be his last saying “I am not as young as I used to be”.

The video of the song features images from Gaza and Palestine and it detonates the the fact that Gaza is the world’s most humungous virtual prison.

In a statement Waters issued through his face book group, he explained why he felt compelled to record a new version of “We Shall Overcome”. He said,

“Over the new year 2009-2010, an international group of 1500 men and women from 42 nations went to Egypt to join a Freedom March to Gaza. They did this to protest the current blockade of Gaza. To protest the fact that the people of Gaza live in a virtual prison. To protest the fact that a year after the terror attack by Israeli armed forces destroyed most of their homes, hospitals, schools, and other public buildings, they have no possibility to rebuild because their borders are closed. The would be Freedom Marchers wanted to peacefully draw attention to the predicament of the Palestinian population of Gaza. The Egyptian government, (funded to the tune of $2.1 billion a year, by us, the US taxpayers), would not allow the marchers to approach Gaza. How lame is that? And how predictable! I live in the USA and during this time Dec 25 2009 – Jan 3 2010 I saw no reference to Gaza or the Freedom March or the multinational protesters gathered there. Anyway I was moved, in the circumstances, to record a new version of “We Shall Overcome”. It seems appropriate”.

It was a bold statement coming from the rock legend that definitely got him a lot of attention worldwide. Many claimed that he was just a falling star trying to make himself famous again, guess we will never know!

It is an amazing song though and a good initiative that many others refused to adopt. In reply to those claims though, it is not the first time the rock star gets active politically.

After the 2004 Indian Ocean earthquake and subsequent tsunami disaster, waters performed “Wish You Were Here” with Eric Clapton during a benefit concert on the American network NBC.

He was out spoken against the Hunting Act of 2004 and performed a concert for, and attended marches supporting the Countryside Alliance. To put it in his own words,

“I’ve become disenchanted with the political and philosophical atmosphere in England. The anti-hunting bill was enough for me to leave England. I did what I could, I did a concert and one or two articles, but it made me feel ashamed to be English. I was in Hyde Park for both the Countryside Alliance marches. There were hundreds of thousands of us there. Good, honest English people. That is one of the most divisive pieces of legislation we have ever had in Great Britain. It’s not a case of whether or not I agree with fox hunting, but I will defend to the hilt their right to take part in it”.

In July 2007, he played on the American Leg of the “Live Earth” concert aimed at raising awareness about global climate change.

In 2007, Waters became a spokesperson for Millennium Promise, a non-profit organization that helps fight extreme poverty and malaria. He wrote an opinion piece for CNN in support of the topic.

Waters has been outspoken about Middle Eastern politics and in June 2009, he openly opposed the Israeli Separation Barrier, calling it an “obscenity” that “should be torn down”. 

In December 2009, Waters pledged his support to the Gaza Freedom March. 

March 2011, he announced that he had joined the Boycott, Divestment, and Sanctions (BDS) movement against Israel.

 BDS is a campaign first initiated on 9 July 2005 by 171 Palestinian non-governmental organizations in support of the Palestinian cause. It simply calls for Boycott, Divestment, and Sanctions against Israel until it complies with the International Law and Universal Principles of Human Rights.

The three stated goals of the campaign are:

  1. An end to Israel’s “Occupation and Colonization of Arab Lands” as well as “Dismantling the Wall”.
  2. Israel’s recognition of the “Fundamental Rights of the Arab Palestinian Citizens of Israel to Full Equality”.
  3. Israel’s respect, protection, and promotion of the “Rights of Palestinian Refugees to Return to their Homes and Properties” as stipulated in United Nations General Assembly Resolution 194.

 

In a promotional video for BDS Bob Dylan sang the following song celebrating the Arab Revolution and urging people to contribute to BDS.  

 

Oh, the schools will divest,
and the corps will pull out,
and the bands will refuse to be playin.

Like a choir of boats,
with justice in our throats.
The power of BDS.

And the states will shun,
and the peace will come.
And the Gaza Port will be opened.
Find peace in full swing.
Join the Arab Spring.
The power of BDS!

 

Bob Dylan

 

In the end, this is what Waters told David Fricke, why he thinks an album like the “The Wall” is relevant today more than ever

“The loss of a father is the central prop on which [The Wall] stands. As the years go by, children lose their fathers again and again, for nothing. You see it now with all these fathers, good men and true, who lost their lives and limbs in Iraq for no reason at all. I have done “Bring the Boys Back Home” in my encore on recent tours. It feels more relevant and poignant to be singing that song now than it did in 1979”.

In the end, these are the lyrics of “We Shall Overcome”:

 

We shall overcome.
We shall overcome
.
We shall overcome some day
.
Deep in my heart

I do believe
.
That we shall overcome

Someday.

And we’ll walk hand in hand,
we’ll walk hand in hand,
we’ll walk hand in hand one day.
Deep in my heart,
I do believe.
That we will walk hand in hand,
One day.

And we’ll break down the prison walls.
We will tear down those prison walls.
Together we will tear down the prison walls on that day.
Deep in my heart,
I do believe.
That we will tear down all those prison walls,
on that day.

Deep in my heart,
I do believe.
That we will tear down those prison walls,
on that day.

And the truth will set us free,
The truth will set us free,
The truth will set us all free,
On that day.

And, deep in my heart,
I do believe.
That the truth will set us all free.
And we shall overcome,
On that day.

 


Pink “Dear Mr. President”

Our third song of the day is Pink’s “Dear Mr. President”. Many people are not familiar with this song but people who follow AOL sessions know it quite well, it was a huge hit when Pink first performed it acoustic with Indigo Girls. Written by Billy Mann and Pink, it is considered an open letter to Ex President George W. Bush.

Pink in her usual sugarcoat the sour strategy directed these words to the media

“I hope the President is proud of the fact that we live in a country where we can do things like that, where we can have dissent, talk, communicate, and share our opinions”. Adding to that she said, “I also think it is pretty narcissistic to think that one of my songs will be heard by the President of the United States” she laughed, “But, hey that would be really cool”. 

Pink song was a bold statement coming from a mainstream pop artist that maybe is not so mainstream after all tackling so many social; issues, misconceptions, and constructs.

Then coming from the source itself she once said,

“That is how I live my life. I am a walking conflict. I guess I turned 25 and sort of woke up. Before, I think, I thought I knew everything and now I realize I have so much left to learn. I just love being here. I love pushing buttons. I love the process of growing up. When you are a teenager, there are moments that you want to die for. But you get past that, and then every moment is like, ‘I want to live! I have so much to do! I am not dead! I am here’”.

Here are the lyrics to Pink’s song:

Dear Mr. President,
Come take a walk with me.
Let us pretend we are just two people and
you are not better than me.
I would like to ask you some questions if we can speak honestly.

What do you feel when you see all the homeless on the street?
Who do you pray for at night before you go to sleep?
What do you feel when you look in the mirror?
Are you proud?

How do you sleep while the rest of us cry?
How do you dream when a mother has no chance to say goodbye?
How do you walk with your head held high?
Can you even look me in the eye
and tell me why?

Dear Mr. President,
Were you a lonely boy?
Are you a lonely boy?
Are you a lonely boy?
How can you say
No child is left behind?
We are not dumb and we are not blind.
They are all sitting in your cells
while you pave the road to hell.

What kind of father would take his own daughter’s rights away?
And what kind of father might hate his own daughter if she were gay?
I can only imagine what the first lady has to say
you have come a long way from whiskey and cocaine.

How do you sleep while the rest of us cry?
How do you dream when a mother has no chance to say goodbye?
How do you walk with your head held high?
Can you even look me in the eye?

Let me tell you about hard work,
Minimum wage with a baby on the way.
Let me tell you about hard work,
Rebuilding your house after the bombs took them away.
Let me tell you about hard work,
Building a bed out of a cardboard box.
Let me tell you about hard work,
Hard work
Hard work
you don’t know nothing about hard work,
Hard work
Hard work
Oh

How do you sleep at night?
How do you walk with your head held high?
Dear Mr. President,
You would never take a walk with me.
Would you?

Right on the Spot!


Tracy Chapman “Talkin about a Revolution”

My second choice is Tracy Chapman’s’ “Talkin about a Revolution”. It was first released in 1988. It was the second single for African American Contemporary Folk Artist Tracy Chapman.The song reached the top forty in several countries like France and New Zealand.

However, the main reasons behind me choosing it, in addition to it being an inspiration and a true revolutionary song, is that it was reborn in the Tunisian Revolution in 2011.

Young activists had it on in coffee shops, squares, even grocery stores. It was one of the songs of the revolution although it was released more than two decades before it.

In the midst of tear gas, rubber and true bullets, and sniper fire, Radio DJs played Tracy Chapman’s 1988 hit over and over again and activists sang along finally the tables are starting to turn.

February 2011, Israeli band “Shmemel” covered the song and added a verse inspired by the Arab Spring revolutions, with the new song being given the title “Talkin about an Arab Revolution”.  

Now there are the lyrics of Chapman’s “Talkin about a Revolution”:

Don’t you know?
They are Talkin about a Revolution!
It sounds like a whisper.
Don’t you know?
They are Talkin about a Revolution!
It sounds like a whisper.

While they are standing in the Welfare Lines.
Crying at the doorsteps of those Armies of Salvation.
Wasting time in the Unemployment Lines.
Sitting around Waiting for a Promotion.

Poor people Gonna Rise Up!
And get their Share.
Poor people Gonna Rise Up!
And take what’s Theirs.

Don’t you know?
You better Run, Run, Run…
Oh, I said you better Run, Run, Run…

Finally, the Tables are Starting to Turn!
Talkin about a Revolution!

It sounds like a whisper


“Imagine” John Lennon

Let us start with “Imagine” for John Lennon, when you listen to the song you need to close your eyes and really Imagine!

Lennon is asking us to imagine a world where religion, possession attachment, and country borders, simply do not exist.

Where peace can be achieved and he is making the honest claim that if he is a dreamer he is not the only one and that even if there are very few dreamers, there should not be few but many.

The original song released in 1971. It is claimed that the song was inspired from Yoko Ono’s book “Grapefruit” and that Lennon later felt that the song should have been a Lennon/Ono Collaboration.

The song became a building stone and inspiration to many other contributions in the road to peace like the concept of Nutopia: The Country of Peace created in 1973 and Yoko’s “Imagine Peace Tower” in Iceland (coming from a verse in the song “Imagine all the People living Life in Peace”). Nutopia was a new version of a Utopian concept in New York City April Fool’s Day in 1973, Lennon and Yoko introduced the idea in a press conference.

Lennon had continuous struggles with his green card and presence on American soil and so his statement was as follows:

“We announce the birth of a conceptual country, Nutopia. Citizenship of the country can be obtained by declaration of your awareness of its mere existence. Nutopia has no land, no boundaries, no passports, only people. Nutopia has no laws other than cosmic. All people of Nutopia are ambassadors of the country. As two ambassadors of Nutopia, we ask for diplomatic immunity and recognition in the United Nations for our country and its people”. 

Lennon included a symbolic anthem for Nutopia in his following album “Mind Games”. In the book “Lennon in America” by Geoffrey Giuliano, Lennon commented that “Imagine” was an

“Anti-Religious, Anti-Nationalistic, Anti-Conventional, and Anti-Capitalistic Song, but because its sugar coated, it’s accepted” he was breaching the issue of using a soft approach to reach a wider audience.

What better to end with then Jimmy Carter’s words regarding the song in 2006 “In many countries around the world, my wife and I have visited about 125 countries; you hear John Lennon’s song “Imagine” used as equally as national anthems”.

In the end, here are the lyrics to Lennon’s masterpiece ‘Imagine:

 Imagine there’s no Heaven                                      

 It’s easy if you try

No hell below us

Above us only sky


Imagine all the people


Living for today…

Imagine there is no countries


It isn’t hard to do


Nothing to kill or die for


And no religion too


Imagine all the people


Living life in peace…

You may say I’m a dreamer


But I’m not the only one


I hope someday you’ll join us


And the world will be as one

Imagine no possessions


I wonder if you can


No need for greed or hunger


A brotherhood of man


Imagine all the people


Sharing all the world…

You may say I’m a dreamer


But I’m not the only one


I hope someday you’ll join us


And the world will live as one

The End or is it ONLY the Beginning =)



Power of a Melody Intro =)

Music, my mum is an English professor; she teaches in Al Azhar University most of her students are from the country and although they try sometimes, words just plain fail them.

A girl once in a Literature and Arts in the 18th century class, was trying to explain that music breached all walls and acquires a one way paved road into the heart and soul.

Instead, what came out was that music has “Absolutely no affect on us whatsoever”, my mum was laughing like crazy.

She gave her the full mark for the question and when I exclaimed, “Excuse me!”

She replied, “We’re are talking about music and when we are then intentions and heart aims are everything not outcomes”.

I thought about that long and hard and I concluded that my mummy is right, it is music! I am a writer and music is a passion of mine.

Therefore, I picked five songs that I think are some of the most important songs ever sung or written. I am sure that there are better but well I mean well.

John Lennon’s song “Imagine” is to remind us that old is gold! That simplicity is everything and that a good song is immortal in the face of time and space. It reminds me that Peace is achievable and that as complicated as our current dilemmas are, they were the same as the inhabitants of Earth dilemmas decades ago and will stay the same for decades to come of that I am sure.

Tracy Chapman’s “Talkin about a Revolution” is a point well made that humanity’s struggle for freedom and justice is one and will always be. It is an amazing example of how a good song can be reborn in extraordinary historical times. That tables do turn always did and always will.

Pink’s song “Dear Mr. President” is the most incredible documentation of George Bush’s ordeals and legacy. It simply proves that America is not owned by or for the Americans and that issues the so called us “Third World” have are the same in the Bronx too.

Roger Waters song “We Shall Overcome” is audio proof that America’s Administration’s Strategy towards Palestine, our Palestine, and Middle East are not approved by true Americans who understand and don’t benefit from what is happening.

It is hope that Art is maybe just maybe the answer or even part of the solution.

El Sheikh Imam’s “Valerie Jescar Destin” is just a taste of Egyptian political melody and I could not resist spicing things up with. This is how politics affected and should affect ART! Listen and Learn. Ahmed Fouad Negm the Poetry LEGEND!

Marwa Arafa