Liberal Arts Blog— Morgeh Sahar (Dawn Bird), Mara Beboos (Last Kiss), “Ey, Iran” (Oh! Iran)
Liberal Arts Blog — Thursday is Joy of Music Day
Today’s Topic — Keys to the Hearts of Seven Billion People XXXIV — In Search of the Best Persian Candidate — Morgeh Sahar (Dawn Bird), Mara Beboos (Last Kiss), “Ey, Iran” (Oh! Iran)
I have been searching for years for “the” Iranian song. But the response from Iranians has always been that there are too many to choose from. Finally, a new friend, Babak Adibi, proposed three. A few days later, I had the chance to run the list by two Iranians I met on my daily walk through the Minute Man National Park. The list won their approval so I checked out all three to pick the one that spoke to me most deeply. My choice: “Mara Beboos” (Last Kiss), the subject of today’s post. Experts — please chime in. Correct, elaborate, elucidate.
LYRICS OF “MARA BEBUS” (Last Kiss) — English and Persian — opening lines
1. Kiss me, for the last time — marā bebus / barāy-e aḵarin bār
2. May God keep you safe, because I am going toward my fate — to-rā ḵodā negahdār / ke miravam ba-su-ye sarnevešt
3. Our spring is over / The past has gone — bahār-e mā goẕašta/ goẕaštahā goẕašta
THE STORY BEHIND THE SONG — composer, lyricist, singer
1. A father, in a prison cell, sentenced to be executed, is singing to his daughter.
2. The composer was Majid Vafadar (1913–1979) who went into exile after the overthrow of Prime Minister Mohammed Mossadegh in 1953.
3. The lyrics are by Haydar Reqabi, a friend of Vafadar’s, who dictated the lyrics over the phone to the composer.
NB: The singer is Hasan Golnaraqi whose father, a prominent merchant, was strongly opposed to his son becoming a professional musician (apparently for religious reasons). The song was recorded without Golnaraqi’s knowledge or consent. He never recorded another song.
BACKGROUND ON IRANIAN CULTURE
1. A country with a disproportionate share of the world’s greatest poets — including Ferdowsi (935–1020), Rumi (1207–1273), Shirazi (1210–1290) Hafez (1315–1390).
2. Magnificent architecture — most notably for me, the bridges of Isfahan.
3. Persian miniatures of the 15th and 16th centuries are among the most exquisite paintings in human history. They include the human figure despite the anti-iconism of other Islamic traditions.
NB: My favorite quote from Rumi: “Beyond all ideas of right and wrong, there is a field. Meet me there.”
GEOGRAPHY, HISTORY, LANGUAGE
1. “Much of Iran consists of a central desert plateau which is ringed on all sides by lofty mountain ranges that afford access to the interior through high passes. Most of the population lives on the edges of this forbidding, waterless waste.” (Britannica).
2. Unbelievably rich history dating back to the Achaemenid Empire of Cyrus the Great (600–530BC), through the Parthian Empire (247–224 BC), to the Sasanian (224–651 AD) before the Islamization of Iran.
3. The attempt by Arab conquerors to impose the Arabic language on the Persians failed.
The other two songs: “Ey, Iran” and “Morghe Sahar”
Background on “Ey Iran” and “Mara Bebus” and “Morg-e Sahar”
General background on Iran:
APPENDIX: Keys to the Hearts of Seven Billion People — Past Posts in This Series
This is the list of songs with which, now masked and distanced, I greet tourists from around the world at the North Bridge in Concord or wherever I else I happened to meet them — eg. waiting in line at grocery stores, pharmacies, banks, or the Department of Motor Vehicles.
I feel strongly that the core humanities curriculum of every school in the world should consist of the most beloved songs of the world’s peoples. Music unites. The opportunity cost of any other texts is infinite. Why not give every 18 year old the keys to hearts of seven billion people? I am not sure this is the perfect list. But I have spent 10 years testing the hypothesis. And the results are not scientific but they are pretty convincing. Proposals welcome.
4/9/20 — Nkosi — South African National Anthem
4/16/20 — Sweet Mother — unofficial national Anthem of Nigeria
4/23/20 — Jambo — the Swahili equivalent — Tanzania, Kenya, Rwanda, Uganda
4/30/20 — Sakura — Japan — the cherry blossom song
5/7/20 — Arirang — Korea (North and South)
5/14/20 — Chuang Qian Ming Yue Guang” — China — Li Bai — Gong Linna
5/21/20 — Ode to Joy — German — Beethoven/Schiller
5/28/20 — La Marseillaise — French — France plus many more french-speaking nations
6/4/20 — Volare — Italian — Domenico Modugno
6/11/20 — Arrorro and Cielito Lindo — Spanish speakers
6/18/20 — La Garota de Ipanema — Brazil and other Portuguese speakers
6/22/20 — Gayatri Mantra — Hindus
7/2/20 — Pokarekare Ana — Maori — New Zealand
7/9/20 — Aseda Yede Ma Onyame — Ghana
7/16/20 — “Al Fatihah” — most sacred Islamic prayer (Arabic)
7/23/20 — “Tavaszi Szel” — Hungarian Folk Song
7/30/20 — “Modeh Ani” — the Jewish Waking Up Prayer
8/6/20 — “Stolat, Stolat” — Polish Birthday Song
8/20/20 — “Lang Zal Ze Leven” — Dutch Birthday Song
8/27/20 — “Oh Danny Boy” — Ireland
9/3/20 — “Mul Mantra” — most sacred Sikh prayer
9/10/20 — “Warwindar Friska” — Swedish song of spring
9/17/20 — “Desteapta-te Romane!” — Romanian national anthem
9/24/20 — “Kad Ja Podjoh Na Bembasu” — Bosnian folk song of lost love
10/1/20 — “Waltzing Matilda” — Australia
10/8/20 — “Calon Lan” — Wales
10/15/20 -”Ngoromera” — Zimbabwe — Oliver “Tuku” Mtukudzi
10/22/20 — “Holka Modrooka” — Czech Republic
10/29/20 — “Tis Dikaiosinis” — Mikiis Theodorakis — Greece
11/5/20 — “Finlandia” Sibelius — Finland
11/12/20 — “Karoun, Karoun, Karoon” — Armenia
11/19/20 — “Hubava si, Moya Goro” — Bulgaria
11/26/20 — “Kuda, Kuda, Kuda” — Russia, Tchaikovsky, Lensky’s Aria
12/3/20 — “Ochie Chernye” — Russia, folk tune
12/10/20 — “Mara Bebus” — Iran, “Last Kiss”
Here is a link to the last three years of posts organized by theme:
Time to share the coolest thing you learned in the last week related to music. Or the coolest thing you learned in your life related to music. Say your favorite song or songs. Or your favorite tips for breathing, posture, or relaxation. Or some insight into the history of music….Or just something random about music… like a joke about drummers. jazz, rock….or share an episode or chapter in your musical autobiography.
This is your chance to make some one else’s day. And perhaps to cement in your memory something important you would otherwise forget. Or to think more deeply than you otherwise would about