From outside one will always triumphantly impress theories upon the world and then fall straight into the ditch one has dug, but only from inside will one keep oneself and the world quiet and true. /FK (Contact: TBONotebooks at fastmail.fm. The Blue Octavo Notebooks welcomes mail, although we cannot guarantee a response. Your email may be posted in part on The Blue Octavo Notebooks unless otherwise requested.) Please enjoy the notebook entries, and thanks for reading.

Friday, May 07, 2004

He Hates Israel, Too. Or, Write Us A Song Tonight, Well, We’re All In The Mood For An Anti-Semitic, er, Anti-Zionist Melody. From Egypt Today — The Magazine of Egypt: Shaaban Abdel Rahim, the Egyptian singer whose hits include such charming ditties as “I Hate Israel,” doesn’t actually write his own lyrics. The pop star is illiterate, you see, and so Islam Khalil, an Arabic teacher at an elementary school, has been penning lyrics for him since 1991. Khalil offers some interesting observations about working with an illiterate pop star who “doesn’t know how to think” (it’s tough) and about Egyptian popular culture (anybody could have sung “I Hate Israel” and it would have been a success).
“Actually,” adds Khalil with the painful bluntness that is the trademark of his lyrics, “had I known that song would be so successful, I definitely wouldn’t have written it for Shaaban. But anyway, in the end it’s all in the words — no matter who sings them.”

Judging by some fans’ reactions to Shaaban’s music, Khalil may be spot-on in his assertion. “Shaaban says things that no one else dares too, even though we all feel them,” says Khalid Abdallah, a security guard in Nasr City. “That’s really the only thing he has going for him.”

That American lawmakers have openly condemned Khalil’s lyrics as anti-Semitic only heightens Shaaban’s appeal, many say.

Khalil took this daring streak to new heights in Shaaban’s latest release. In the song “Ya Amm Arabi” — “Uncle Arab” — not only does he forcefully criticize the US and Israel (calling them “thugs”), he also mounts a scathing indictment of the Arabs’ collective failure to respond properly to the “Busharon” threat.

“Our situation needs an Arab nation/ Hey Arabs, d’you plan on making a move?/ A flood is coming your way, and you’re unaware,” he writes.

I wonder if there’s a video. Anyway, I suspect this is one pop star who’s not going to be visiting the Kabbalah Centre anytime soon. So it goes.

Speaking of less than politically correct lyrics, don’t make fun of the mustache, girly man.

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