This weekend I had the privilege to see (and hear, and feel) some of the most majestic and soulful gentlemen on this planet. Though the room was filled with exuberant dancing bodies (mine included), I will be honest that I was struck to tears by the heartbreak of their journey. Exiled to endless touring because their homelands in Mali are ravaged by war, their exile becomes then a strange gift to us, and I wonder, as one author wrote, “how much can one take joy from music (or any art) intrinsically tied to sorrow?”* So they wander, refugee nomads, serenading those of us in the west who haven’t had a “homeland” for so long we don’t even remember the taste of sorrow, only some nagging sense of discontent… For we have houses, but who, truly, can claim a sense of “home?” Home not only as a place we go to comfortably lay our heads and perhaps share with someone we love, but a wider sense of home where the land, its cycles, our families, community and culture can’t even be separated as unique entities?** So we gather our fragmented, uprooted, long-homeless selves and go dance and listen to these beautiful bards who sing the soul of Their land, their people, their longing and love and sorrow. And some of our own forgotten longing gets assuaged, soothed by the grief and beauty that they express. Tinariwen​, you are angels upon all these lands, and I wish you deep peace and warm love and bright spots of true joy amidst your wanderings. I am praying for peace in your homeland (and for all war-ravaged places), and though I can’t thank you enough, I will do my best to say Thank You!, Merci Beaucoup!, for sharing your tremendous gift and singing for the soul of All humankind. I am awed by your resilience, and humbled by your dedication to bringing joy to the world even amidst so much sorrow…

http://tinariwen.com || facebook.com/tinariwenmusic


*http://buzzbands.la/2017/04/01/tinariwen-dengue-fever-dancing-joy-sorrow-fonda


**As a gorgeous example of their extant relationship with their homeland, even in exile, here is a song, Sastanàqqàm, for the Ténéré***, their desert lands:

(( Listen/watch: https://youtu.be/vACZA9dGvV4 ))

Ténéré, can you tell me
of anything better
Than to have your friends
and your mount,
And a brand new goatskin,
watertight,
To find your way
by the light
Of the four bright stars
of heaven,
To know how
to find water in
The unlikeliest of places,
And enlist the momentum
of the wind
To help you move forward.

Tell me, Ténéré,
how you and I
Can remain united,
with no hate for each other.
Ténéré, I can now admit that
I have travelled far through this wide world.
Ténéré, I give you my oath
That as long as I’m alive,
I will always come back to you.

***Ténéré is the Tamashek word for empty land or desert, the plural of which is Tinariwen.

((None of these photos my own! All credits to the photographers))

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