There are, however, a few masterpieces that entail total absorption. I need to be in a state of devout adulation, in a semi religious ecstatic mind frame. It is dangerous to listen to certain songs while driving. Company is also required to reap the full benefit of the experience, but they too, have to be in the proper disposition to accept the flow of lyrics, melody and human voice with their minds and not with their feet.Mohamad Abdul Wahab
In 1968 three Arab giants, two Egyptians and a Lebanese met in Lebanon on the balcony of the Ambassador Hotel overlooking the Lamartine Valley (named after the French poet 1790-1869). They were, Om Kolthoum (1904-1975) the all-time Diva of Arab Music, Mohamad Abdul-Wahab (1910-1991), arguably the greatest Arab composer of the 20th century and George Gerdak (b.1931), the Lebanese poet, writer, philosopher, critic and cynic. Of these three great artists, George Gerdak is my favorite. He wrote, what in my opinion is, the supreme celebration of Love and Life “Hazihi Laylati = This Is My Night”.
I never really liked Mohamad Abdul Wahab either as a singer or as an actor. But as a composer, I bow my head and pay respect where it is due. I am a fan of Om Kalthoum and Cuban cigars. I like both tremendously but I don’t actually get to enjoy either more than a few times per year.
A companion had just returned from the north of Syria, where he’d been on a two-day hunting trip, bringing back a dozen pheasants from the distant cotton fields. We set out to our hideout in the mountains for a memorable repast away from it all. The evening was pregnant with anticipation. It was cold and windy outside, but by the fireplace the soul and body were able to take refuge. We were sharing a few rounds of drinks before dinner when, out of the blue, “Hazihi Laylati” invaded my mind. We were expecting two more guys to join us and it only took a phone call to ask them to fetch a CD of the song and to bring it along.
There is no way I can do justice to the evening. Talking about the song itself, in the particular instance and space where we shared it is virtually impossible. I feel humbled by my inability to translate into English the easy flowing poetry of George Gerdak. All I can do is offer you this link to listen and enjoy the song online:
Hazihi Laylati is familiar to many readers. However, whether you’ve heard it before and whether Arabic is your language or not, I kindly ask you to free yourself for 32 minutes, sit down somewhere you feel very comfortable, get your favorite drink to nurse slowly (you might need a couple of refills) and enjoy my modest offering and contemplate the words if you understand them, or simply let yourself drift with the sound, the voice and the melody.
To read "Hazihi Laylati" in Arabic click on this link: