Let There Be Love
by Latif Bolat
It was a winter afternoon with a drizzling rain when my journey of devotional music started. Somewhere around the Santa Barbara Mountains in California, I found myself sitting in my car and crying with a big smile on my face, listening a particular tape titled "Ya Habib" in my little car. This life changing music belonged to the incredible Sabri Brothers from Pakistan. Gulam Farid and Maqbul Sabri were singing ecstatically, pouring their devotion out of their soul. All the lyrics of this "qawwali" singing of Pakistani Sufis were in Urdu language, however my heart had immediately found a home in it, regardless of the fact that I didnít know even one word of Urdu. Now, after almost ten years from that magical moment, I can see more clearly what hit me so hard in the mountains of Santa Barbara; it was the devotional quality of the music, the innocence of that pure dedication to something eternal and Big.
In our time of disposability, anything can be subjected to replacement; our cars, houses, cities, even countries. We use things and throw away so easily, even without thinking how much they meant to us when we had them. We leave our girlfriends, our lovers, our wives and husbands as if we dispose any other household items. We live in a system and a world where any attachment or dedication to something can be considered as "old fashion" or "not so cool". So we keep changing our jobs, our homes, cars; we keep moving to new cities or even countries, we get some strange excitement and enjoyment from replacing everything we have, even our relationships, so easily. This is true for the Western world as much as the old world, like Turkey. The old world is also catching up with the same type of "disposability" and "consumerism" ideals.
In such an environment, devotionalism touched my soul like an evening breeze in my Mediterranean hometown. After my encounter with Sabri Brothers, my musical preferences and philosophical view of the world was not the same anymore. From that open window, I went back to my own roots and looked into Turkish devotional culture and music, with a very different perspective.
What I found in Turkish devotional scene though was not what I was looking for in most part. The Sufi environment in my homeland was far from that innocent devotionalism. It was in the midst of dirty dealing of politics, removed long time ago from its universalist and humanist basics. It is a base which is developed by gigantic poets and philoshopers like Rumi, Yunus Emre, Haci Bektas, Nasreddin Hoca, Niyazi Misri, and hundreds of others. That humanist and universalist base was indicated beautifully by Rumi in mid-13th century with such lines as:
"Not Christian or Jew or Muslim, not Hindu,
Buddist, sufi, or zen. Not any religion or cultural system
I belong to the beloved, have seen the two worlds as one
and that one call to and know, first, last, outer, inner,
only that breath breathing human being."
However like everything beautiful, such ideals also had their fair share from the changing times and many happenings during hundreds of years passed. Today, among the so-called hard core Sufis, Sufi culture is considered as the graduate school for Islam, shedding the universalist base it had once upon a time. There is hardly any difference left anymore between the Mystics of Islam and the Islamic orthodoxy Rumi and Yunus Emre struggled very deeply, not just in Turkey but everywhere else too at a warying degrees.
My humble work in Turkish devotional music is a result of trying to learn from the original masters of Turkish Mysticism like Yunus, Rumi, Pir Sultan Abdal, Haci Bektas and many others. Anatolian culture is a true fusion of many beutiful peoples since the time of Sumerians. In that mystical piece of land, Hitite, Greek, Armenian, Urartian, Arab, Kurdish, Jewish, Zaroasterian, Islamic, Chiristian, Turkish and many other incredible cultures blended so beautifully and created something truly unique; the culture of Anatolia.
This recording tries to reflect the devotional and mystical aspect of the Anatolian culture, accumulated over thousands of years. The deep quality of devotion in these songs is the direct result of this beautiful blend of such devotional and dedicated people of Anatolia.
For this very reason, I would like to dedicate this CD to the wonderful people of Anatolia, from Hakkari to Izmir; with special dedication to my mother Neziha and my father Duran for their devotion and dedication to my becoming a better person in this world. " Ask Olsun, Let there be Love, Hu!"
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ABOUT THE MUSIC IN THIS CD:
My homeland! The homeland of ice and also running water,
My homeland! The homeland of wild grass and also wheat,
the sea and also sea-washed cliffs,
mountains, roses and anger, goodness and valley.
The homeland of horse racing and the dance of the heroes,
The homeland of Koroglu and also Atcali,
The homeland of Yildirim and also Bedrettin,
The homeland of Sinan; but prison's, never!
The homeland of Fatih, but conquest's, never!
Pir Sultan's and Yunus's homeland,
Nefi's, Karacaoglan's and Homeros's homeland,
My homeland! Human's, heart's and soul's homeland,
The homeland of heroic martyrdom and living heroically,
celebration's and sorrowfulness' homeland, fasting's and holiday's.
My homeland! delicious wine's and sinfulness',
The homeland of many rivers; barren land's, blood and spring's homeland.
The homeland of lamentation and songs, blues' homeland.
Your songs are a bunch of grapes,
On a branch of an ever growing grape vine.
They are a bunch of thirst-inducing and yet thirst-satisfying grapes.
Their molasses are heart burning, still yet love-thickening.
My homeland! These are the yeast for your tomorrow, that well deserved pride.
And there is a hidden dagger on your breast.
On your breast,
a hidden dagger
to separate that beautiful bunch from its vine.
(From Mesela Papalina)
This humble recording has been a labor of love for me and for many other friends. From the selection of the songs, to cover design, many people presented their talents with so much love and good intention. With their generosity, we put together this recording of fine Turkish devotional songs for your listening pleasure. Here are some good people to thank:
My parents Neziha and Duran, my sisters Mediha and Sebiha, my friends Kenan Yildiz and Ersin Atli from Mersin/Turkey for their musical expertise, Don Young and John Altman for arranging Sacramento City College studios for partial recording of this CD, Tracy Marshall for designing the cover art, Lauraine Bacon for introducing me to the Expression for more recording sessions, Tom Chandler, Tom Farris, Don Young, Amy Cyr, Peyman Vessal for their beautiful musicianship, Anna Graybill and Bob Ewing for their friendly support.
STUDIO AND PRODUCTION CREDITS:
Executive Producer: Latif Bolat
Producers: Tom Chandler and Latif Bolat
Recording Engineers: John Altmann, John Scanlon
Mixed by: Armando Guzman, Chris Capriotti
Mastered by: Emam
Cover and Booklet design: Tracy Marshall
Cover Photo: Kutay Kugay
This CD was recorded at:
Tracks 1,2,3 and 4 : Expression/Emeryville, CA
Track 5: Sacramento City College
Poetry recording: Chris Capriotti/Nocturnal Sun Productions