A Diamond’s Eye View of the World

a multi-faceted look at the middle east, and the middle west

the sound of music in Lebanon: the streets are alive

Posted by adiamondinsunlight on March 1, 2007

Last night I had drinks with a friend at “our” neighborhood place. Its not really ours, and its not quite in either of our neighborhoods, but … close enough.

A (I’ve realized recently that most of my friends have names beginning with A, C, G, or K. I do have more than four friends, but as any quick perusal of my mobile’s phonebook will attest, I could stand a bit more name diversity.) had spent the day in the south, which is beautiful these days.

Spring is springing there: the trees are budding, and wildflowers cover the ground. A said that the views (having spent much of the day lost in the south, apparently the trio in A’s car had the opportunity to see many views) were reminiscent of the Alps in The Sound of Music.

Oh, I said dreamily (the Sound of Music, along with Oklahoma and West Side Story, was one of my favorite musicals when I was a child), wouldn’t it be lovely to imagine all the people of south Lebanon twirling around on the mountainside, singing “The hills are alive”?

Oh yes, little diamond, A replied. Except for all the mined areas.


I do hear lots of singing here – in the streets. My friend M once described Syria as “a very musical country”, and Lebanon is much the same.

Lebanon is musical in the sense that wherever one goes, one hears music – in cars driving past, restaurants, and wafting down from apartments.

My favorite musical moments come in the early mornings, as I pass soldiers stationed at various points around the city. They play music on their mobile phones – the latest Arabic love songs and the latest US hip-hop tracks. Each man I walk by is enveloped by his own little cloud of song.

But Lebanon is musical in another sense as well – and this is the way in which M meant the description.

Men break into song here – phrases of old ballads, choruses of old love songs – when women walk past on the street. Much, much, much nicer than any catcall, or even than such memorable New York phrases as “God bless you and the mother who bore you”.

The hills may not be alive with music, but the city streets are very much alive – with song.


3 Responses to “the sound of music in Lebanon: the streets are alive”

  1. intlxpatr said

    No kidding? “God bless you and the mother who bore you?” That is too cool!

  2. […] the sound of music in Lebanon: the streets are alive […]

  3. […] after hearing the news coming out of Lebanon, but that is not the case according to this post at A Diamond’s Eye View of the World, whose observation may lead us to imagine Beirut as a city enveloped in a cloud of music: Lebanon […]

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