Archive for October 10, 2008

Daddy’s too big a shoe..

I prefer remixes to remakes. For obvious reasons! Remixes involve creativity. Remakes/reproductions don’t. Giving remixes an opportunity to improve on the original song. While a remakes remains “the next best thing”. If you don’t believe me, check out the remix done on Bizunesh Bekele’s “yeNuro fichie sawq”. It actually made me view the original song with favor. Whose lines i always heard wrong while young (“beMatat alamnim” was “beMekakelachin”) so end up convinced the lyrics needed a re-writing.

Still, remakes were a necessery evil until of late. I remember Teddy Afro explaining how he didn’t want to incorporate one of Tilahun Gesesse’s songs in his first album until the producers made it a pre-condition. “I had other songs I could have used in it’s place” says he “but they told me nobody would listen to it otherwise”. Infact, until such artists like Zeritu came and totally revolutionzed the trend, your voice needed to sound-like some other singer’s for anybody to let you near the mic (I fancy same is true in Hollywood, every actress seem an exact replica of the actress next to her). Not to mention you’d have probably not joined that Kebele Kinet or even “mawred” that azmach at weddings if your voice didn’t remind your audience of somebody famous’.

I would, by no means, encourage remakes. But as as long as credit is given where credits are due, I have no problem with them. Neither do i have a problem with those who do. On the other hand, i find it ridiculous when people act as if reproducing a song is an insult to the original singer, instead of a compliment. There was this colleague of mine who almost had a stroke the first time she heard Tigist Bekele playing Aster Aweke’s “Kabu”. She called Tigist all sorts of names, as if Aster Aweke was a Beauty Queen herself, because Tigist dared think she can sing the diva’s song. Granted we Ethiopians are highly resistant to anything we aren’t used to, which has it’s own good as well as bad side, does Tigist singing “Kabu” make the song (and the rock from which it got it’s title) less sacred? Why, indeed, does liking “A” have to mean hating “B”?!

I know what you are thinking. You are thinking what is she on about? I’m on about Muluken Melese throwing his weight about regarding the remakes of his songs by one Bizuayehu Demissie which I came across Addis Tibeb yesterday afternoon while googling Artist Alemtsehai Wedajo.

Now, I don’t know if abiy has been in on this. But I’ve had the priviledge of hearing an audio-tape of Muluken’s “misikrinet” after he “left the world behind” to become “Yeyesus Wetader”. After talking about how a guitarist friend of his “proclaimed” the gospel for him and he converted, he give a picturisque description of how this colleague and he used to go out every evening after work to the club’s balcony. Looking at the moon, he said, they would lift their voice to heaven and implore the creator to give them the opportunity to leave this “work of the devil” and serve him instead.

Now, I’m not juding the change of heart on “this work of the devil”. I’m a huge fan of change of hearts. How else can we show we’ve grown and matured? This is, after all, not the easiest century to be spiritual in for the convent-minded. Back when all you see on tv was “yeFiyel Wotete” or “Annd annd Qenima, yishalal wushima”, the notion that secular songs are a weapon of mass destruction may have found some following. Nowadays, not so much. I remember how an ex-Tagai once told me how the “Tagaiys” used to say “ene ebiss, ante tibss” when someone is needed to roll on land mines and pave the way for EPRDF’s troops to move forward. These were the days in which men and women weren’t allowed to either marry or fall in love and ate earth/dust by adding sugar to it for survival. So, yes, death was a welcome relief. Later, ofcourse, when they have tasted the actual [earth-free] “sugar”, and got used to its delicious taste, death became to them what death is to the rest of us feeble motals. (Anything you’d like to add Tamrat?!)

So I can understand if Muluken Melese has started viewing his old songs in a new light. With globalization, the internet and the world ‘becoming one village’, the idea “only one way to salvation” becomes as indigestible as Bush’s “If you aren’t with us, you are against us”. Why, I have protestant relatives and friends, loving people who don’t necessarily pray before eating but make you feel they may actually know what they are talking about, who move their heads along the rhythum of a secular song. What’s more, they have stopped feeling guilty about it! My cousin Enat has once told me how she recognized a “secular song” she knew from her minibus riding days being played in her church while the offering bag was being passed. After the sermon, she waited for the Organist outside and stopped him. “Hey!” she said, not bothering to take the accusative tone out of her voice, “You were playing an Alemawi Zefen, don’t try denying it because I happen to know the song well!” “Oh yeah?” the Organist smiled wickedly “maybe God is trying to teach you not to listen to Alemawi songs”.

So hearing Muluken trying to have his copy right “mebt” respected over songs he once begged radio stations not to play didn’t bother me as much as him seeming to think he is irrepleacable did. Because it reminded me another part of his post-redumption “misikrinet”. This time Muluken was talking about how the devil used to tempt him into falling back to his old ways after conversion. “He used to come and say to me”, he said “Ante! Muluken yetebalk! Bemelaaw Ethiopia yetawek! Zinah yegenene ..zefagn…” (say what you will of him, but the devil sure is one articulate dude). My guess is, either Muluken has always been what he’s showing himself to be nowadays (why would Satan waste his bullets on somebody he knows they won’t work, anyway?) or he simply is trying to pull an “Afe –“ a Maitre de Artist Laureate etcetra etcetra ad vomitosis Afework Tekle.

“Pride goes before destruction, and a haughty spirit before stumbling”. Does it ring a bell Mulae?!

October 10, 2008 at 10:05 am 3 comments


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The blogger tries to think outside the box, or wonder why she sometimes can't.

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"I will speak for you, Father. I speak for all mediocrities in the world. I am their champion. I am their patron saint." - Antonio Salieri, from the movie "Amadeus"

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