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By Sylvia Alajaji
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Indiana University Press, 2015

ISBN 978-0-253-01761-1

216 Pages

PURL 5.2 | Kef Time Band, "Soode Soode" on Kef Time: Exciting Sounds of the Middle East, issued by Traditional Crossroads (1994).

Media reference: p. 151   

About this recording

"Oghin guh khmem, mezzen guh guhlem
Ays ashghareen mech, kef guh vayelem
Khoski mi khapvik, seri mi havadak
Ays ashghareen mech, amen pan sood eh
Sood eh, sood eh, sood eh, sood eh, ahmen pan sood eh
Ays ashghareen mech, amen pan sood eh
[…]
Meeayn meg pani, havadatsek tuk
Gerek, khmetsek, kef vayeletsek"

"I drink oghi, I eat mezze
In this world, I have my fun
Don't be deceived by words, don't believe in love
In this world, everything's a lie
Lie, lie, lie, lie, everything's a lie
In this world, everything's a lie
[…]
Just one thing you must believe
Eat, drink, and have fun"

And fun they had and continue to have. After all, despite the tragedies, despite the lingering pain and anger over the denial of the genocide, the Armenians, after all, live, laugh, dance, and have fun. This song is a testament to that resilience. A resilience tinged, however, with a fatalism familiar to those whose lives have been brushed by tragedy. The world can be an unforgiving place. So, what can one do but resign oneself to that reality and despite it all, have fun.

Performed here by the Kef Time Band (see PURL 5.1), "Soode, Soode" has become an iconic song for Armenians in the diaspora, particularly those in the United States. As with "Catskill’in Jampan" (PURL 2.3), it's a song whose origins can be found in Anatolia but was adapted by musicians in the United States. One of the most famous and earliest recordings of the song is by the famed Armenian musician and comedian Edward Bogosian, who immigrated to the United States from the Ottoman Empire. Since then, the song has been recorded by many Armenian (and non-Armenian) musicians. The lyrics are in Armenian and, like the version of "Adalar" recorded by the Kef Time Band, most prominently features the clarinet, oud, kanun, a driving dombeg, and Richard Hagopian’s inimitable vocals. Be sure to listen especially for the second half of the song, where Hachig Kazarian’s clarinet solo, followed by Jack Chalikian’s kanun solo, and then Hagopian’s oud solo take the song to ever more exciting heights.

This song appears on Kef Time: Exciting Sounds of the Middle East, released by Traditional Crossroads in 1994.