Foundation, NJ U. S. A
the Message Continues ... 12/183
Newsletter for February 2017
Article ... 1 - Article ... 2 - Article ... 3 - Article ... 4 - Article ... 5 - Article ... 6 - Article ... 7 - Article ... 8 - Article ... 9 - Article ... 10 - Article ... 11 - Article ... 12
Is Rumi the Inspiration behind
Today's Love Songs?
In the early days when I had just started translating Rumi I became aware of what I thought then were strange similarities between Rumi lyrics and the American blues. How could it be, I thought. How could lyrics from an 800-year old Persian poet have anything in common with songs from a 20th Century American phenomenon?
Despite my initial disbelief I found similarities in four major themes that run through these two genres: Heartache, Drunkenness, Disagreeable Lover and Aloneness.
Rumi of course routinely exclaimed proudly how the pain of love was exclusive to him. In fact in my Rumi translation of his poem "Go Back To Sleep," he is shunning all those who aren't fortunate enough to be suffering from this heartache. He is commanding them to go back to sleep, which means remain in darkness of ignorance and give up your desire for growth and evolution. Just like in the American blues, this heartache was also paramount for Rumi.
"I am so drunk
"My man don't love me
And here's one from Rumi
"Everyday my heart falls deeper in the pain of your sorrow.
Here, Rumi's sorrow is of course heartache or having the blues.
Also similar to the line "love will make you drink and gamble," complaining about the heartless lover ruining one's good name, is routine in Rumi poetry.
So these similarities over the years made me aware about a connection between Rumi and the blues, in fact I used to perform a song called Rumi Blues with blues music and rhythms, honoring the connection without actually fully understanding the reason.
THE AFRICAN AMERICAN CONNECTION
The article exposed the missing link for me: that blues is an African American experience. And African American of course denotes origin from Africa and this is where things get interesting. Although the article focuses more on religion and the musical connection to Africa, the point that interests me is the lyrics.
The Persian classical poets, specially Rumi, where immensely popular in the East. In fact Rumi has been a giant in Middle East ever since the 13th Century. And the Persian classical metaphors for heartache, drunkenness, disagreeable lover, and aloneness were well established all through the Mideast from the Mediterranean Sea to India, North, West and East Africa and the Moorish Spain.
The African slaves, who were familiar with the imagery and metaphors of the Persian classical poetry, brought these ideas with them to the US and gradually through generations as English became their native tongue learned to express them in the New World.
THE BLUES IS THE SOURCE OF TODAY'S POP MUSIC
So next time you hear a young crooner tearing his or her heart out in a modern love song, you have Rumi to thank for.
All material published by Al-Huda.com / And the Message Continues is the sole responsibility of its author's).
The opinions and/or assertions contained therein do not necessarily reflect the editorial views of this site,
nor of Al-Huda and its officers.
HOME - NEWSLETTERS - BOOKS - ARTICLES - FEEDBACK