“You infidel and devil-follower, … you deserve to die for pushing Muslims to corruption and adultery.”
So said a letter to Ammar (first names only, please) who once ran a music store in eastern Baghdad. In September followers of Shiite cleric Moqtada Sadr (that guy again!) came to his shop and told him to shut it down. Then three guys in black came and sprayed the shop with gunfire, destroying it and wounding Ammar.
Now Ammar works at the Aldar Albaidaa chain of music stores in Kurdish Suleimaniyeh. Aldar Albaidaa opened a branch in Suleimaniyah because it was no longer safe to sell music in central and southern Iraq. Shiite and Sunni Muslim religious extremists have forced stores selling CDs and DVDs to shut down, sometimes killing employees. Friends in Baghdad are afraid to listen to music in public for fear of the Islamists.
Among the best-selling CD’s–Iraqi singer and oud player Hossam Al Rassam, who now lives in Syria, who sings in one album, “What a pity, it [Baghdad] was the jewel of the Arabs, but it was sold away in an auction.” The best-selling song titles–songs about Iraqis who had fled from violence, like “So we don’t forget Iraq” and “The pains of our people.”
Fortunately, especially if you happen to live in Baghdad, you can download (link not active) his songs in MP3 format. And here is a link (link not active) to the lyrics (in Arabic) of his Iraq Story (Mawal) on YouTube.
I’m not sure if this is the “maqam” traditonal style he is known for, the “tarabi” style deplored by some Arabic speaking bloggers or the “6a6awww music” they seem to like. I have to say the vocals are much too morose and over the top in the emoting department for my taste, although the background music is interesting in an Eastern mystical way (although I do like overdone Arab love songs in general like, say, Ehab). Perhaps his popular “My mother I have been bitten by a scorpion” love song would be more my cup of tea.
UPDATE: The above links are no longer active. Hossam Al Rassam’s own website is down too. A pity. I would like to hear a sample of the types of his music. He has a soccer tune out too that was very popular. The best I can recommend now is to google his name and look for something on YouTube.
Here is the scorpion song “Agaraba” العگربة on YouTube.
Here is the football song “Jeeb al cas” – جيب الكاس – bring the (trophy) cup