Fairuz in Tartous

If I prided myself on having made a few friends through this blog, I’m risking it all with this newest and most absurd post. However, I have a lump in my throat. I need to get it out. I’m suffocating. I need to speak up, unabashed. I hate Fairuz!
My earliest memory of Fairuz is that of an old 78 rpm vinyl record. If I’m not mistaken, the song was “Ya 3akida Al-7ajibayni” (Yea, Frowning Eyebrows). For God’s sake, can you imagine such a stupid title for a song. I hated her there and then. Her high pitched voice got on my nerves. Worse, as I grew up, if I were to hear Fairuz in the morning, my whole day would go into shambles. Black cats never bothered me. Passing under a ladder, opening an umbrella inside a room, Friday the 13th, a hooting owl, a screaming raven. Nope. Fairuz in the morning, oh shit! I would be jinxed all day long. Luckily though, I was able to control my environment for most of my adult life and avoided her screeching voice as best as I could. But then, she was forced on me more often than I cared to. There was a certain time, when traveling to Damascus by bus (Karnak) was almost the only option for me and everybody else. It was a painful and agonizing three hours and thirty minutes trip, and guess what! Fairuz would be screaming in her thin, piping and irritating voice for the entire duration of the ride. I would arrive to Damascus with the most terrible migraine. I would see dots floating by (more so if I closed my eyes). I would become overly sensitive to light and I would choose a dark and quiet place where I can rest for the remainder of the day to lick my mental wounds away from all. There was also one more excruciating period in my life and that was when I served in the army for 30 consecutive months. As soon as I landed home after returning from the United States, I joined the army. No, no, I didn’t get shot or anything. I never even saw the enemy. But, for the six months boot camp in the cold Syrian desert north of Homs, they would brutally wake us, poor souls, at five thirty in the morning on the most annoying of all noises ever produced by a human-made device: Fairuz blasting on a half a dozen sound horns satanically distributed among the building structures which comprised our military camp.
What is it really with Fairuz? OK, it’s acceptable that the Lebanese, who usually make a big deal out of everything, hail Fairuz and call her their Ambassador to the Stars. But what about us in Syria! Why do we have to revere her? There’s a very appropriate Damascene proverb which certainly applies: (لا وجه حلو ولا طيز ناعمة) La Wajeh Helou Wala Teez Naemeh = No beautiful face, no smooth ass. Do excuse me please; I lose all sense when I speak of the mass infatuation with Fairuz.
Propane gas is used in Syria for cooking. There is no utility service providing an underground network to serve users. Instead, propane gas is distributed by private vendors in what is called locally a bottle of gas (cylinder). Years ago, a mule drawn carriage would be laid full of gas cylinders. The vendor, with a wrench key in hand would use it as a drumstick and knock on the cylinders producing a very disturbing clinking noise. Housewives would hear the commotion, step out on balconies and call the “traveling salesman”. He would then park his carriage and bring up the gas cylinder on his shoulder and make the exchange, replacing one empty and spare cylinder with a full one. Times have changed and gas is distributed today by small trucks using the same annoying advertising method, usually with a kid sitting in the back handling the drumming. Tartous, being a unique poetic city decided to do something about it. Seven years ago, a new mayor and city council, all avid fans of Fairuz, passed the strangest law in Syria. Gas vendors can only advertise their passage in a neighborhood and their product by playing a tape of Fairuz on a loudspeaker. The tape plays endlessly, and when Fairuz is heard out loud in the streets, housewives will step on balconies to summon the gas cylinder vendor. I made a clip for your eyes and ears only. By coincidence, two separate pickup trucks, on two different days, were playing the same song (Ana Mish Sawda Bas Al-Layl Sawadni Bi Jnaho) = I’m Not Black But the Night Blackened Me With Its Wing. Just reading these words is more than a justification to present to all my critics. At least now, you should be able to understand why I hate Fairuz.


that was funny. u can join my colleagues here and start off a new group called "fairouz u can go to hell"
and the video... man my dreams are coming true!!!
Azza said…
And I used to think that I am the only one who doesn't like her.. I won't say I hate her, but I can't stand listening to her for more than 5-10 min max..
You remind me of the cold mornings where I used to go to work in the company's micro bus listening to Fairuz for whole 30 minutes everyday which usually was the main reason for all bad days there!.. Thank God I quitted that job..
Abufares said…
Dear No One
I'm gald I was able to bring a smile to you and to your colleagues. The clip just goes to prove that I don't have a wild imagination and that I'm not making the story up.
This is how they sell gas in Tartous. Very appropriate don't you think!
Abufares said…
Dear Azza
I'm so happy somebody else broke the taboo and spoke out saying that she doesn't like Fairuz. I, too, don't hate her (it's too strong a word). I can't stand her voice or her songs. What I can't stand even more are those addicted on starting the damn day with her while insisting that it's OK to abuse the rest of us. They would say: "Oh, I like to drink my coffee and listen to Fairuz in the morning!" Then, you're supposed to get impressed because they are so, how shall I say it, soive.
Thank you for dropping by.
Yazan said…
يا عاقد الحاجبين على الجبين اللّجين

إن كنت تقصد قتلي قتلتني مرّتين

تمر قفز غزال بين الرّصيف و بيني

و ما نصبت شباكي ولا أذنت لعيني

تبدو كأن لا تراني و ملئ عينك عيني

و مثل فعلك فعلي ويلي من الأحمقين

مولاي لم تبق مني حيّاً سوى رمقين

أخاف تدعو القوافي عليك بالمشرقين

I didnt see this coming, this is one of my favorite poems, and songs...

anyways, I can only say, "Allah Yehdeek"... lol
Abufares said…
Hi Yazan
I'm way beyond Hidayah. The damage inflicted on me by Fairuz is incurable.
I knew I was going to get some (Frowning Eyebrows) because of this post, but damn it feels good to finally say what I always wanted to get out of my system.
Thank you for passing by.
Don't forget to let me know whe you're around. We need to get together and listen to Fouad Fakro (hahaha)
Omar said…
loool.. Fairouz as a gas truck alarm.. this is the best idea I have ever heard in my life...... lol

I would strongly and passionately share your sentiments Abou Fares and everyone here.. I hate Fairouz with passion (just like I love Ziad with passion)

my childhood was filled with Fairouz songs as my grandfather was one of Asi Rahbani's best friends.. he also (my grandfather) unofficially co-wrote the closely related songs: "wa2efli ou khallini boos shbabeek el 7elweh bi tartous..." (halt and let me kiss the windows of the beauty in Tartous)..

however.. my absolute nightmare was: hey ya imm el 3ayn el ka7la yelli mn7b ghnaneeha.. kinti bi hak el gherra a7la wa7yatek reddeeha (I tried to translate into english... didn't work :(

I went to see her "live" here in Montreal 2 years ago.. paid $160 to do so, and had to take 4 hours of being in a heavy lebanese presence.. longest 4 hours of my life... after that concert, I can only remember one thing: the $160 I paid for that concert..

if you ever start a "fairouz go to hell" club... count me in.. please

now who's this self conscious anonymous that dropped out of nowhere? wht the hell are you talking about ya faheem?
Unknown said…
I'm with Yazan on this one. I love Fairuz. Perhaps it's what her songs remind me of that makes me like her so much. I used to wake up to her everyday back in Homs. My parents sipping coffee near the sobya, trying to get to wake up so I can go to school..

no worries abufares, you're still a good guy in my eyes ;)
Anonymous said…
LOL. That was hilarious!

But يا عاقد الحاجبين was the reason! This amazes me, such a wonderful poem! alas!

So, how has this وجه حلو و طيز ناعمة among your favorite singers? Farid Alatrash or Roger Waters ? :P
Abufares said…
Dear Omar, the Fairuz Lover
Your parents did it right. Listening to Fairuz near a Sobia is what saved them from freezing due to her chilling voice.
You see, in the morning, I really don't care to listen to any music. I just like to sit quietly without even talking. This juxtapositioning of Fairuz and mornings is what kept bothering me all these years.
Thank you for dropping by. Always a pleasure.
Yazan said…
oh okay, I'm gonna be a minority in a world of Fairuze Haters... well well, let's see how u guys treat minorities...

Will definitley have a plan set before i get on any plane from here.. ;)
Abufares said…
Dear Shadi
Since both Roger Waters and Farid Atrach are men, I don't care much about the smoothness of their "Teez".
I tolerate Haifa Wehbe for example because I would always mute the volume on TV then just watch her Teez more so than her face.
With Fairuz, I'm left with no options at all. I hate her voice. Her face, well you know. Her Teez... Please someone take that image out of my head, it's scary.
Thank you for coming by Shadi. A pleasure, always.
Abufares said…
Dear Omar, the Fairuz Hater
I'm really happy to know that there are a whole lot of us. We kept quiet far too long I think.
Some of her songs are absolutley crazy. The one you mentioned is gross. What about the Bousta when she sang it? When she says: "Yekhrebayt 3younik Ya 3alia Shou 7elwin". What had been a great song before her rendition she simply turned into a monster.
Glad you've been here.
Looking forward seeing you soon.
Abufares said…
Hey Yazan
Welcome again.
Don't worry, we are the real minority as far as our taste re. Fairuz is concerned.
I remember when I was young and foolish and wanted to Tabe2 (impress) a girl. We would be sitting in some restaurant in Damascus (in the middle of the day) with Fairuz blasting on the stereo. She would dreamily look at me and say don't you just love Fairuz and I would, teary eyes, reply (biting my lip) who doesn't!
Hating Fairuz openly was a banishment from the possiblity of scoring with any girl during my time. So not only I had to suffer from involuntarily listening to her, I had to lie about it as well.
Ghalia said…
I'll share Yazan !
Abufares said…
Hi Ghalia

Fi Ahwe 3al Mafra
Fi Maw2adi Wfi Nar

Oh no, I'm having goose bumps remembering this beautiful song.

Only if I were 20 years younger (or you 10 years older), I would've gone through the trouble of pretending that I'm in love with Fairuz, Kirmal 3younik.
As matters stand, I see no need and I've dropped my mask.
I'm hopeless I know.
Glad you've been here, please come again.
Karin said…
Abufares ... you got my diaphram a serious muscle-ache with this post! I laughed tears while reading and even trying to imagine your "encounters" with Fairouz, absolutely cracked me up!

I can not say I do NOT like Fairouz but to stick with the truth - I never manage to listen to her CD more than halfway! I'm not sure if this is due to the language which I understand as well (or no, actually a BIT better!) as you understand Chinese - or to something else.
I am no real fan either but occasinally I do like to listen to her ... for a limited time though.

To have her function as gas-truck alarm ... that's the craziest think I heard in a long time! I guess they force you to suffer with every singly round the car makes ... poor guy ;)!!

Thanks so much for this post ... I REALLY like what your "crazy moods" are causing you to do!!
Abufares said…
Hi karin

I can always blame it on fasting. These mood swings, as you've called them, veer me into the rediculous rather than the depressing. It's the gift of aging I guess. Before I made it to 20, I was always depressed unless I'm with a woman. Before I made it to 30, I would often get depressed if I'm not in the presence of one particular woman. Before I made it to 40, I would sometimes get depressed if I'm in the presence of one woman only. Now, I never get depressed, I just watch football and/or write senseless posts.
ya zelemh i can't start my day without a cup of milk and fairouz on the back ground:D
what did u say that make me?

coool wallah
Anonymous said…
Salamat Abufares, I discovered your delightful blog recently via Syria Planet and am really enjoying your insights. Your post on Fairuz cracked me up; my oh my, what a brave "coming out" you've had.

One of the projects I did recently for a broadcaster client (marketing research) in several Arab countries, including Syria, came out with a categorical result: many Arabs, and not just us Syrians and other Levantines, apparently NEED to wake up with Fairuz (or have her as part of the morning ritual, before or after the news). I didn't know it was this drastic!

I'm personally quite partial to many of her songs, and Sahar Al Layali, Hanna Al Sakran or Ahadir Al Bosta (don't ask me why) come to mind. However, my husband would probably be happy to initiate, organize and possibly even fund a "I hate Fairuz" club! I won't fail to alert him that he's got soulmates out there amongst our compatriots.

I look forward to reading more of your great posts.
Ihsan said…
Oh my god Abu Fares, I love Fairuz so much but I enjoyed the way you described her...hahaha...

The secret of Fairuz is not in the sadness in her voice, but in the memories that accompanies it. I brought it with a dose of Fairuz in the morning, sweet memories, great people and all had Fairuz in the background.

Anyways, as Yazan said, Allah yehdek.. ;)
Abufares said…
Hi Reem
I'm so happy to have you here. It's exactly this dependence on Fairuz that I find strange. Coffee with Fairuz, or the morning paper with fairuz, ...etc.
The many responses indicating that there are people out there who had suffered the same traumatic syndroms after exposure to Fairuz for many years was very reassuring for me. I don't feel alone anymore, although I'm still in the minority.
Again, thank you for dropping by.
Abufares said…
Hi No One

Your addiction to Fairuz makes you the normal guy, according to the interesting research carried out by Reem.
We, Fairuz Haters, are obviously the weirdos.
Thank you for your comment.
Abufares said…
Hi Ihsan
Thank you so much for coming this way.
The secret of Fairuz is her omnipresence (on microbusses, in schools, in the army, in supposedly romantic places) and her high pitched annoying voice. She should be sad. I don't see any reason why she should be happy!
hahahaha (demonic laugh) :))))
moryarti said…
on a side note, i am trying to figure out which part of Tartous is it in your clip - but i can't really tell.. :)
Abufares said…
Hi Moryarti

The clip was shot in 2 sequences in the same area more or less. South of the Industrial Bank (The Ommaya Circle in Al-Kosour neighborhood).
I hope you're able to place it now.
moryarti said…
no clue boss :)
Anonymous said…
Abu Fares,

I, for one, forgive you; after all it is Ramadan.

Loved your previous post. I never took that left turn and have been here -20 years- ever since. I couldn't even if I wanted to (for many reasons).
Mirzade said…
i dont like her and i dont have a reason ...
too cold i guess
Abufares said…
If you know the area called Mar Elias, the clip was shot around there.
Abufares said…
HI Abu Kareem
Glad you've been here.
So you're one of the majority:)

That was what I meant when I said that if I didn't make that decision then it could be years before I can make it again.
Abufares said…
HI Mirzade
You gave the absolute perfect reason for not liking Fairuz: No reason at all.
Thank you for dropping by. I feel stronger now with so many people agreeing with me.
Unknown said…
well Abufares..
you mentioned Haifa Wehbe's teez, so I thought as a gesture of good will from a Fairuz lover to a Fairuz hater, I'd pass along to you this link..

Abufares said…
Thank you for the Wawa link. I always thought that the best feature of Haifa is her Teez, although I also thought that the Wawa was something else.
Well now, just imagine Fairuz posing for these pictures, uh, come on, are you sick already, hahaha
Abufares said…
Dear Rime

I'm sorry I've written your name in a different manner than you do.
That was unintentional, so do forgive me please. I'm just used to writing names the English rather than the French way.
Anonymous said…
My oh my!
What a demonstration!

:x fairouz

Abufares said…
Dear Anonymous
The clip is beautiful, I have to admit.
Listening to music, any music is a ritual to me. I have to be alone of my own choice.
The problem with Fairuz, in the Middle East in general, is that her songs have become more or less background noise. I wouldn\'t want to hear any music in a taxi for example.
Thank you for your comment. I never meant to offend anyone, especially the legions of Fairuz fans (my dad included).
Anonymous said…
Dear Abufares, not to worry, you are forgiven. :)
Anonymous said…
So Funny!!
So, the ginnie is out of the bottle!! The mask is dropped! I am afraid I can NOT agree with you there!! I mean there might be a few songs which can be a bit "annoying" (I can't remember any now) but she has a very soothing voice!! Then again, I was never on one of these Karnak Trips!!
Abu Abdo
Abufares said…
You know Abu Abdo
What I find most surprising is that this particular post has been the most "popular" on my blog. I wonder really, is this good or bad.
Yazan said…
It's bad, You should thank me btw, one of my "more-obsessive" friends, was gonna leave a death threat for u here, cuz obviously u are Kafer in the Fairuz Worship rulings... zendeeq!!!

I may have stopped it this time, but who knows... be careful abu fares, be very careful. ;)
Abufares said…
You see Yazan, death threats now because of Fairuz. I told you what happens when my day starts with her :)
Ascribo said…
Well, it seems that I'm not alone!

When I was a young child, I used to have no feeling towards Fairuz...then came the secondary school! I remember her already high-pitched voice being deranged even more by the ancient fucked-up haut-parleur of the school backyard! That's a lot of memories, but as you said: it became part of the unpleasant background noise...Whenever you were, whatever you doing, you'll hear your voice imposed by other people who can't allow themselves or other people to have a quiet contemplation...Her voice make me feel like you're pulling every single nerve of mine like a string and releasing it..it reminds me of every kind of disturbing I had..From compulsory waking-up in the camping till the neighbours who can't enjoy their morning unless they drink their coffee, listen to Fairuz, and of course, wake you up by her buzzing voice..

For all the above-mentioned reasons, listening to Fairuz make you feel at home. Remembering that, I downloaded some of her songs and tried to listen to it one morning...it was the first time I realize how bad it is to start your day with Fairuz..Every word and every meaning of the song made me feel sick! What! "sa narge3o yawman ila hayyena" "we'll be back, one day, at our neighbourhood"..How the hell are we going to be back by doing nothing about it but chanting or listening to songs! Needless to say, I deleted all her stupid songs at once...

and as for the stupid gas cyliners selling, this is another means of annyoing people..Think about it when you're sitting at home reading/studying, or trying to concentrate on anything...and then comes the gas man, and starts pacing back and fro in your neighbourhood for some 20 mins...and then another one, and a third one...etc..My brother would say: they'll keep going until you buy from them! This is compulsive marketing!

Wonderful post Abufares
Abufares said…
Hi Ascribo
Great to hear from you.
It seems we all have suffered at one time or another from Fairuz, from our early school years all the way to buying gas cylinders for cooking.
Shannon said…
WOW! 45 comments! I'm a bit intimidated...I don't really know much about Fairuz, but, really, what a cool clip.
Abufares said…
You are intimidated? I am intimidated. The first time I write about something I don't like and I get this huge response.
Fairuz, whether I like it or not, is an Arab institution. It might be possible that many hate her for exactly that reason.
Just imagine that you'd have to hear "whoever happens to be your favorite singer" every morning, whether you feel like it or not, in the right or wrong mood, in a cab, on an airplane, in school,...etc. you get the idea!
The problem is compounded if you don't like the voice of the singer to start with. It becomes a tragedy when you hate the lyrics as well.
This is my exact condition. My last refuge was the gas cylinder vendor and his clinking noise. Fairuz even took that away from me:)
Anonymous said…
A Syrian friend pointed me to your blog. I love your posts, especially this one! Yalla, let's start a revolution against Fairuz. If that's the best the Lebanese can offer, somebody needs to overthrow their DJs. LOL
Abufares said…
Hi Paige
So glad you've been here. I'm still amazed that this particular post received so much feedback (for and against). To me at least,it proves that if we're honest about our feelings and can express them in writing, with a twist of humor along the way, people are going to be stimulated. I wish I could do that all the time.
Again, thank you so much for reading and for taking the time to comment.
Anonymous said…
I do not understand a word she is saying but her voice is beautiful.
Anonymous said…
Yes! I would like to add my voice to the chorus of anti-Fairouz dissent! I love Arab music, but I just don't "get" Fairouz, her voice does nothing for me, and I find the songs all sound the same. There's only ONE song of Fairouz that I like: Nassam a3layna al hawa. I can understand why she's a legend in Lebanon, but if we judge it just on the music, I'll take Oum Kalthoum over Fairouz any day.
Abufares said…

Om Kalthoum over Fairuz... but of course.
Shou Dakhal Tez bi Mar7aba. They don't belong to the same class at all. As a matter of fact Om Kalthoum is all alone where she stood and still stand.
Thank you for agreeing with the obvious, hahaha
L.S said…
Dear Abu Fares,

You can't imagine the gratitude I have for you for this courageous post. I am so sick of Fairouz and people are making me feel as if I am a retard or a sick person for not liking her. I can not stand her nagging voice in the morning and I can not stand her voice playing every single morning since we were born, oh damn, isn't it enough?
I searched for this post of yours that was recommended to me by a sane friend who also joins the anti-Fairouz lovely crowd and I am laughing loudly after reading your hilarious post and I will be from now on a constant reader of your blog.
ورجعت الشتوييييييية
Thank you and a big hello to you from Damascus
Abufares said…
Dear L.S
Thank you so much for visiting and commenting on this old post of mine. Nothing makes me happier than meeting another Fairuz victim :-)
We should form a club to counteract the onslaught of mediocrity of the Fairuz loud fans.
her piping voice!!! OMG her annoyingly piping voice, like a fingernail being dragged on the blackboard of a classroom.
Anonymous said…
Your words, your style .....
But why, these words and the hate you have for Fayrous?I KNOW WELL THAT YOU ADORE HER and you still listening to her songs :)
So glad to visit your blog and read a bit of..
Abufares said…
I adore her???
I really don't :-) but am glad you read this post after such a long time.
Anonymous said…
Well, What can I say. I feel sory for you for not appreciating Fairuz and her art. You obviously missed the point of having Fairouz around. Nonetheless, not everyone has to love every artist there is.
You obviously didn't wake up with her day in day out for years and years.
I just want to enlighten you about fairouz and Syria. I do agree you're beyond "hedaya", nonetheless, it is important to know that Fairouz was and still is an integral part of the Syrian Performing Art Culture. Her name is synonymous with the International Exposition of Damascus. She sang to Damascus, Barada, and Jabal al Sheick, Jabal Kasiun, (excuse the spelling) not to mention her songs about Jerusalem. She is in the heart and soul of every syrian Person.

As for Ya 3akd alhagibayne. It is unfortunate that your command of the Arabic language is not adequate enough to understand the lyrics, nor your understanding of the Arabic culture of the time when the poem was written. The phrase means; You! with a uni-brow on a golden forehead, it is a metaphor for beauty and virility in men. So, what the songs start with is "you! beautiful and vain man" I think it is a great start ot a song.

for more on uni-brow check the Wikipedia and related links.

Anonymous said…
With reference to your comment earlier regarding

Fi Ahwe 3al Mafra
Fi Maw2adi Wfi Nar

I don't think I laughed so hard for a long time. I love your sense of humor, and please don't get me wrong. I have no issue with you not liking fairuz, but so far you haven't provided any valid reason to hate her. You really need to look beyond the literal meaning of the words. it is the culture that produced those words that matter. Every song of fairuz is a snap shot in time of a situation, an event, something that many people experience every day but they don't notice.

Please don't start loving Fairuz on my account.

Abufares said…
Hello Nabil
Sorry it took me a couple of days to post, and then to reply to your comment. Life often keeps us away from the fun things we enjoy most.
You don't have to feel sorry for me at all for not liking Fairuz. You've mistakenly assumed that I wasn't raised in Syria. I did have to wake up to her singing every morning. Perhaps that explains more than anything else my dislike for her as a "Syrian phenomenon". You'd be surprised how well read I am in Arabic literature in general and in poetry in particular as well. To be honest, I think that "Ya 3akida al 7ajibayni" is one of Fariuz's better songs. I mentioned it because it was the first song I remember from early on as a child.
Now you did ask a serious question. Why I don't like her? Seriously, I find her microphonic voice quite irritating, void of subtleties and droning. She sounds like most women (after they take a few singing lessons). She is another chorale / chorus girl. There is nothing particular about her voice that makes it stand out. She is the average of all averages when female voices are concerned.
I also hold the Rahbani Brothers in the same basket. I think they are, by far, the most overrated (along with Fairuz) team in contemporary Arabic music. Those compositions that are of a slightly better quality than their run of the mill pretentious, urbane songs are plagiarized from various western sources.
Fairuz's best songs were not written by the Rahbanis. She was at her best when she sang the works of Najib Hankash, Philemon Wehbe and a few others.
Need I say more? I truly find the Rahbani Trio's (Fairuz included) work naïve, superficial,and annoying.
Ghannaytou Makkata, arguably Fairuz's highest achievement, was written by non-other than the mercenary poet Saeed Akel, whose view of Islam and Arabism is not favorable to put it mildly. He was paid for this beautiful poem.
Am I being too harsh? Yes, I think so, but such is human nature. I'm neither a music authority nor a literary critic. Fairuz is as overrated and full of hot air as Paulo Coelho is.
Thank you for dropping by and leaving your comments on such an old post of mine. Satire was the main motivation behind this post, and a very irritated ear :-)

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