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Guest Feature: Anthony Elghossain
Is anyone else feeling exhausted and drained all the time? Has your sleep pattern drastically changed and fluctuated during the pandemic? I find myself staying up later and waking up earlier than I used to. I’ve also been doomscrolling through Twitter more and more. It’s felt like we’re constantly adapting just to survive. I don’t know who needs to hear this but however you’re adapting, I hope that you’re patient with yourself and know that you have family, friends, and loved ones to lean on for anything. Including me!
We’ve got a lot to cover, so let’s get into it. I’m so excited to welcome the next guest in the musical question series: Anthony Elghossain!
Anthony is a lawyer and writer based in Beirut. He advises non-governmental organizations on strategy, planning, organizational development, and substantive issues. He is a great friend, despite a tendency to “come in hot” too early and too late in the day. Anthony insisted that he find a way to honor his favorite artist, Melhem Barakat, for the anniversary of his death on Oct. 28. So he answered each question with both his regular song selections AND songs by Melhem:
What is your favorite song right now?
Based on a somewhat scientific review of the relevant applications, outlets, and so on, I must—reluctantly, but truthfully—declare a tie: “Midnight Blue” by Lou Gramm and “Dance the Night Away” by Van Halen. (Van Halen wins the lifetime listening award, though. And, yes, most of the contenders are songs in genres and sub-genres that folks keep lumping into loose categories known as Dad Rock or Old School Rap—even though your fellow-travelers seem to think Chingy is old, etc. Akh.)
For Melhem, I have to go with “Shoubbak Habibi.” I like listening to, and watching, him as a young man; it’s different than the Melhem we became accustomed to later—in a Pacino-like manner, too.
What’s your go-to song for all your feels?
This. All of it. Mark Knopfler is the English-language equivalent of Melhem Barakat in my personal pantheon: objectively great, under-appreciated by casual listeners who conflate the two songs they know with his career, unfairly maligned by faux-snobs whose taste in music ranks on par with mine in drapery, and someone who connects to feels best left out of your newsletter. If you or your readers need quick “feels,” then check out “The Wind” by Yusuf/Cat Stevens or “Hasten Down the Wind” by Warren Zevon (also covered by Linda Ronstadt). If you’re in a feistier and wittier mood, which I recommend, try putting on “The French Inhaler” also by Warren Zevon.
Melhem—Abu Majd, el Musiqar, el Maestro—is a man of, and for, many “feels.” “Salem Aaleha” works well, as a gateway song and as a tune for all kinds of basic, somewhat nebulous feelings towards lovers and friends. (Quick note: Danny removed a million suggestions here. Fair, but I want it on record that Melhem has far more in the bag than is apparent from this answer. Put some respeck on his name.) And, then, there’s my favorite: “El Farq Ma Beineh W Bainak”—one for lovers, friends, warm strangers, and all sorts of folks
Name a song that reminds you of home.
Lebanon is a house of many mansions, each of which has a song, a symbol, and legend to celebrate.“Hamama Beida” is a Melhem song that reminds me of silly memories and misunderstandings in the “village:” Zahle—our majestic, defiant, and indominable House of Peace. And, of course, we must all never—never, ever—forget the Lebanese instrumentals played on loop at Beirut’s international airport.
Name a song you know all the words to.
“A” song? I’m in a stupid mood these days, and you’re a young thunder-cat out in DC, so let’s go with “Regulate” by Warren G, “Raspberry Beret” by Prince, and “Casanova” by Gerald Levert—all songs we’ve serenaded pedestrians with, with the last being covered by the inimitable Melvin Johnson & Soul Generation back when Saloon was open.
“Taa Nensa.” Bad pun intended? Maybe.
Name a song that gets you really hype and ready to go.
This version of “Rock N Roll Train” by AC/DC. Is this one of their best songs? No. Is this one of my favorites? No. But, damn. Look at them come out into the world. If these old men can get around like that, then your ass can take another soul-sapping and pointless conference call full of people who were boring and inept before the pandemic and certainly haven’t discovered how to converse in 2020.
“Qamarein.” I mean, the man howls. R.I.P, Musiqar. You’ll live on forever in our hearts.
Big shout out and thanks to Anthony for joining and sharing his song selections! All of his song selections will be included with this week’s playlist. Follow him on Twitter too: come for the analysis, stay for the jokes.
What I’m Listening To
🎧 Arab Flows (Middle Eastern + North African artists) 🎧
Arabesque (Intro) - Nassi
Leik - Leil
Luna - Lynda featuring Soolking
Ma Aandi Ouali - Naama
Connerie - Lidia
Ya Agmal Eyoun (Remix) - Amr Diab featuring R3HAB
Marokino - Melo
Clouds - Blvxb featuring Mnawi
Ensak - Layla Rina
Emlaq - Hassan El Shafei featuring Hamza Namira
🎤 Las Vibras (Latinx + Hispanic artists) 🎤
BICHOTA - KAROL G
Amantes y Amigos - Arcangel featuring Sech
Já é Tarde (No Más) - Emilia featuring Blanca and Cabrera
Fascinada - Lali
Boomerang - Pau Muro featuring Jawy Mendez
Clavo - ARIA VEGA
Un Bolero Para Lola - Debi Nova
Como Tu - Rafa Pabön
Morir Juntos - Corina Smith featuring Lenny Távarez
Échalo Pa’ Ca - Sofia Reyes featuring Darell and Lalo Ebratt
🎼 Other Music 🎼
More Of You - Emeli Sandé featuring Stonebwoy and Nana Rogues
Hits Different - Astrid S
In Your Eyes (Remix) - The Weeknd featuring Kenny G
Emakhaya - Simmy featuring Da Capo and Sun-El Musician
Really Love - KSI featuring Craig David and Digital Farm Animals
Omo Rapala - Niniola
Mood Swings - THEY.
Damage - H.E.R.
Shot For Me - Drake
Youth. - Kiana Ledé featuring Gary Clark Jr.
What I’m Reading
🇱🇧 Lebanon 🇱🇧
After the Beirut Explosion, Lebanon’s Women-Led Civil Society Is Building on the Edge of Despair - Sarah Aziza, The Intercept
Abandoned by their government and facing the fallout of a pandemic and the Beirut blast, civil society is pushing against the odds for a new Lebanon.
Lebanon’s Year of Fire - Timour Azhari, Al Jazeera
Life in Lebanon has now merged into a seemingly endless series of intertwined sorrows.
The popular movement which began last October 17 has shied away from political participation. But as an economic meltdown gripped the country, destroying millions of livelihoods and causing poverty levels to soar, the euphoria of the protests gave way to despair.
The Beirut Blast Shattered Her Masterpieces. Now, the Rebuilding Starts - Ben Hubbard, The New York Times
Over three decades as Lebanon’s premier stained-glass artist, Maya Husseini advanced a fragile medium in a country prone to violent shocks. Then came the big one.
It Felt Like Love - Lina Mounzer, Newlines Magazine
Lebanon's uprising failed, but it changed everything for Lina.
🌍 Middle East, North Africa, and the Diaspora 🌎
Yemen’s ‘microgrid girls’ power community amid war and COVID-19 - Veronique Mistiaen, Al Jazeera
A women-run solar station near the front line in Abs is empowering its owners and improving life in their community.
The census doesn’t count Arab Americans. That leaves some Texans feeling invisible. - Yasmeen Khalifa, Texas Tribune
The census does not include an option for people to identify as Middle Eastern or North African Americans. That leaves Arab Texans to identify as white or “other” on the all-important national count.
Algerian women push for more rights at Berber soccer tournament - Seham Eloraby and Abdelaziz Boumzar, Reuters
“Women before weren’t free, weren’t allowed to work outside of the house ... now we have rights, we can be lawyers, pilots, or do any other jobs, and we are equal to men”
Tunisia court rules that 81-year-old can drop slave name - Layli Foroudi, Reuters
A Tunisian court has allowed an 81-year-old man to remove a word that marked him out as descended from slaves from his name, in the country’s first ruling of its kind, his lawyer said
Iraq's 'stadium of horrors' in ruins, but the game goes on - Raadal-Jammas with Khalil Jalil, AFP
“Sadly the central government doesn't realise that football is what brings life back to a town, its people and its youth."
🎶 Music, Culture, and the Arts 🎶
City Scenes: How Boston's LGBTQ+ Musicians Are Making Space For Each Other - Knar Bedian, NPR
Greater Boston is overflowing with incredible musical talent from the LGBTQ+ community. Finding inclusive environments and standards within the city is a different story.
'She exists out of time': Umm Kulthum, Arab music's eternal star - Tom Faber, The Guardian
With a voice adored by Bob Dylan, Robert Plant and millions across the Arab world, Umm Kulthum rejected gender norms with her powerful, political music.
TNX are the party crew making Washington, DC “dance in a different way” - Nina Posner, Mixmag
Before the pandemic hit we met The NeedlExchange, the DJ cooperative helping the so-called stiff US capital get loose.
Beyond Virality: Sarah Palafox Is Here To Change the Face of Regional Mexican Music - Ecleen Luzmila Caraballo and Michaela Vargas Caro, Remezcla
Sarah Palafox received praise for her illustrious sound and authenticity, but also received unwarranted backlash. The criticism rehashed conversations about the need for many non-Black Latines to confront their ignorance and racial biases.
Going Sohla - E. Alex Jung, Vulture
After leaving Bon Appétit, the chef now has her own show — where she’s paid fairly for her fantastic creations.
📚 Other Reads 📚
The Nigerian protests are about much more than police violence - Annie Olaloku-Teriba, Al Jazeera
SARS’s abuse reflects the moral bankruptcy of the system the corrupt Nigerian ruling elite has put in place.
Gaming the System - Romina Ruiz-Goiriena, Miami Herald
The U.S. keeps erecting immigration barriers. Rich elites can maneuver around them.
What It Means to Be Black and South Asian - Iman Sultan, Medium
Afro-Pakistani experiences show that anti-Blackness is a global struggle.
This Article Is Not About Basketball - Marcus Smart, The Players’ Tribune
“We’ve put in some good work at this point, and won some people over, and we’ve gotten some new regulations passed in some cases. But this is really only just the beginning. There is so much more to be done.”
France has long embraced secularism. After beheading, will it be used to oppress? - Matt Bradley, NBC News
“The new 'laïcité' ... has become a tool to target people we consider the enemies of our culture," said professor Raphaël Liogier.
Your Weekly Sample
In her song “Losing U” Amerie samples “Didi” by Khaled. Check it out!