Abdel Rizzaq al-Jabbouri - Truck Driver

عبد الرزاق الجبوري - المرهدن
El Murahdan (Ya Shofeer al Qamara)

This song and video clip are particularly interesting because they really go to the heart of what independent or at least non-corporate music in the Arab World means, and reflects cultural and musical reality of what really is the majority of the world's Arab population.

This is a song and video produced by a local production company, likely recorded in the absence of much digital technology aside from the synthesizer known as the Org in Syria. The song, is based on a debke or folk song that exists in myriad forms and has many variable verses and lines that change from person to person and indeed village to village.

The setting is the general area of Deir Ezzor in Eastern Syria on the banks of the Euphrates River, which has a population comprised mainly of a Bedouins and Kurds some more urbanized than others, and this cultural context gives the music of this region its particular sound.

The video was in all likelihood produced and distributed as an MPEG on video CDs and comes to us posted by a youtube user seeking to ridicule the singer and his sensibilities, which he deems "shawi", a derogatory term somewhat analogous to the term "redneck" in English. The poster has inserted these little text comments into the video and I highly doubt they are part of the original since they are mocking. You'll find it posted here, but I have reposted it since the disabled embedding. There's also an alternative version, posted by the same guy here. It has essentially the same scenes but different shots, and also features a shot of Abdel Rizzaq singing on the bridge over the Euphrates.

For many Syrians, especially ones that own computers and post on youtube, this brand of music is seen as backward, silly, and almost embarrassing because it uses a rural dialect featuring rural themes and lacks all the refinement of more professionally produced music that seeks to emulate Western techniques and aesthetics.

However, for the open-minded listener this clip may very well be better than the commercial pop marketed by record labels precisely because it lacks that superficial, processed, bubble gum flavor. The video, if lacking production quality, is also a breath of fresh air because it shows the real, undoctored setting of the song, the bleak dusty roads of these small East Syrian towns. Of course, the video features a clip from a performance, likely at a wedding, with men and women dancing, at times together while other times men dancing with men and women dancing with women. Finally, the director has also put to use these local limited resources by parading a huge flock of sheep through the background of the final scene. Imagine how much it would cost to put a flock of sheep in a modern American music video (provided that you wanted to) and you can see how this song utilizes local characteristics and assets before judging its value.

The artist, Abdel Rizzaq al-Jabbouri has since recorded a more hi-fi version with a cleaned up, in my opinion bland, accompaniment for Gulf television. You can see it here on youtube, however, I prefer the original recording.

I haven't been able to provide the lyrics to all the available verses of this song, which may be infinite, but here we have all but one of the verses to the song in the video. Of course, the information for the translations is not all my own. I have consulted an Arabic discussion forum in which members explain and debate the meanings of obscure, extremely local words and phrases found in Arabic folk music.

Abdel Rizzaq al-Jabbouri - Truck Driver

عبد الرزق الجبوري - المرهدن, يا شوفير الغمارة

We're going to do this song line by line because it needs a lot of explanation:

Did you find the pretty girl for me Mr. Truck Driver? (see note)
ما شفت لي المرهدن (المزيون) يا شوفير الغمارة
She's going east of al-Mouhassan taking al-Ashara road (see note)
يمشي شرق الموحسن وقاضب درب العشارى

In the song he uses the word مرهدن (muhrahdan)or other words indicating that a girl is beautiful. For those interested, مرهدن is a very particular word. According to a poster on youtube.com it refers to a girl wearing a certain kind of dress native to East Syria and Iraq. I couldn't find a picture online, but it would be typical village dress of such places as Deir Ezzor. Anyway, المرهدن walks with رهدنة, which is a slow, feminine walk that is very attractive somehow refers to the movement of her dress from what I can infer. This song, which exists in many forms is often called المرهدنة

However, I am calling this song by it's other title when translating to English because it makes more sense, which is يا شوفير الغمارة (ya shofir al-qamara), a term that means truck driver or perhaps a better translation is trucker. The kind of truck in question الغمارة (sometimes pronounced القمارة) is like a pick-up truck or the front half of the tractor trailer. See the video for pictures of trucks.

In the second line there الموحسن (al-Mouhassan) and العشارى (al-Ashara) are locales found in the region of East Syria roughly between Deir Ezzor and al-Aboukmal. Much of the video seems to be filmed at the locale mentioned in the song, as you can see at the beginning the sign marking al-Mouhassan and the arches over the highway where they come to a T.

God damn money and this luck of mine
يلعن أبو المصاري لبو الحظ اللي رماني
All of them blamed me when they knew I wasn't from here (see note)
كلهم عالوا عليا من عرفوني اجنيباني

The first line is pretty straight forward. The second line contains this word اجنيباني (jnebani) which is similar to the idea of a foreigner but on a much smaller scale. If someone is اجنيباني it really means there are just from a different village or city, which on the village scale might seem like the guy is foreign, foreign enough to refuse marriage anyway.

They want a high dowry so I'll find me a loan (see note)
يريدون سياقه غالي تا شوف لي دبارة
Half from the Abraz boys and the rest from the Baqara (see note)
نص من عيال الأبرز والباقي من البقارة

Apparently سياق(siyaq, or could be siyagh) refers to the "bride-price" or المهر here. This is the amount to be paid to the bride and her family to secure an engagement. So when he says he needs to get a دبارة (dabbara) it means he needs to arrange the necessary funds to uphold his end of the marriage contract.

In the next line, I suppose he is saying where he could get the funds from. The term عيال الأبرز (ayyal al-abraz) is the nickname of the tribe al-3aqidat (العقيدات) and البقارة (al-baqqara) is the name of another tribe in the area.

0 Response to "Abdel Rizzaq al-Jabbouri - Truck Driver"

Popular Posts

My Partners