Worldly Wednesday: “Amine,” Gaâda Diwane De Béchar


I discovered these guys almost ten years ago outside Staoueli, Algeria, where I was spending a few weeks as an assistant trainer at a campaign training school for women political candidates.  The NGO I worked for at the time ran these incredibly cool schools that still help female political party members run for office.  Even though it was almost 11pm, it was finally cool enough to be outside, so dozens of families with young kids wandered around the open-air market eating ice cream.  The kids chased each other into and out of various stalls; parents tried to stop them but were too tired.  A pretty universal scene.  One of my colleagues, a lanky Romanian woman who was approximately nine feet tall, pulled me into a hut filled with CDs and the proprietor had this song playing on his beat-up Sony boom box.  I bought the album immediately.  I have absolutely no idea what the words mean but I sing vigorous phonetic approximations whenever this song comes on my music mixes.  I still don’t know what the lyrics mean but I do know that they play a type of very old Algerian spiritual music called Gnawa.

This song always puts me in a fantastic mood, and brings back wonderful memories of being somewhere sunny, hot, and interesting.


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