On Thursday evening, while Israeli planes were conducting raids over Gaza, a Lebanese musician name Zeid Hamdan was crooning Sah-el-nom, literally meaning “The light is coming up”, almost 3,000 miles away in Delhi’s Zorba. He began with a soft yet decaying riff on his electric guitar, which was paired with ambient sounds created from the laptop. The drummer pounded on the cymbals and soon, all of it reached a crescendo. Fusing folk and electronica can appear to be a mishmash, but the flute player joins in soon to give some torrid trip-hop a jazz twist, and a whole lot of warmth to the complete set. The song signifies losing virginity and waking up to a happy morning.
“Metaphorically, it signifies that the war is over and a new beginning awaits. A girl just woke up, she is happy and now wants to go home.
It’s a call to love and focuses on living,” says Hamdan, who believes in countering war with creativity. “We in Lebanon are currently taking care of four million refugees — the broken souls. We are only two million in population and like a dot on the world map. In times of conflict, where we are surrounded by hatred and war, I try to address human situation and obstacles that make everyday life difficult. It’s easier to drive home the point through that rather than telling the world stop the war,” said Beirut-based 37-year-old Hamdan, after the launch of Zizou, a new Lebanese restaurant in the city.
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The song was a part of the 30-minute set that comprised The Storm, also a metaphor for war and Hakini, a song about a couple stuck on two sides of the fence and cannot meet. In Lebanon, where making music is an infuriated affair, Hamdan decided to take up music to “cleanse the wounds.” Thus, a band called Soap Kills came up. “My family thought I had gone crazy. Being a musician isn’t a career option. You are expected to do something more worthwhile,”
Growing up in Beirut, with no musical background, Hamdan understood the idea of music in Paris, where his family stayed for five years during his childhood. “We had to escape somewhere. And it’s in Paris that I discovered The Beatles, among other bands,” says Hamdan, who was arrested a few years ago for creating a song about the then Army General who was campaigning to become the President of the country. “But the fans protested and I was released,” he says.
For now, Hamdan is planning to keep creating music that will prove to be revolutionary enough to prevent further war. “Revolutions fought with art are far more effective than the ones fought with bullets and words,” says Hamdan.