Ne me quitte pas, in Arabic! Swoon.

A quick check at Wikipedia shows that the 1959 French song Ne me quitte pas had been recorded by numerous singers, and in over 20 languages! That’s such an amazingly illustrious history that song has.

There is an Arabic version, beautifully done by the Lebanese band Mashrou’ Leila, called Ma Tetrikni Heik. When I discovered this the surprise was so great and wonderful it gave me goosebumps so to speak. I mean, firstly I love this incredibly beautiful song. Secondly I’m loving the band more and more, the more I listen to them. They have that certain something that speaks to my soul, in the same way that some other artists, say, Sade, Chris Isaak and Gipsy Kings, to name just three but diverse acts, have as well. And thirdly I have a special interest in Arabic as I’ve started learning it some months ago. So when I found these three things have come together, it made for a delightful surprise that just took my breath away.

The cover is a short one at just over 2 minutes, as the first part of the video below shows. I hope they’ll do a full version someday. This one is from their third album Raasuk (2013).

I found some translation of the lyrics I believe, as kindly shared by YouTube user lilychahine in the comments of a video here.


Original French Versions

I have loved this song ever since I first heard it, in the original French language and as sung by Nina Simone of course. I have written several times here how much I love her. Nina recorded her cover in 1965 for her I Put A Spell On You album.

The original singer though is the songwriter himself, the late Jacques Brel, who was from Belgium and first recorded the song in 1959 for his fourth album, La Valse à Mille Temps. Bonus in the video below: English subtitles! Brilliant.

  • Another French version I like is by Sting. Click the link here for a live performance of the song by the Englishman.


Some English versions (“If you go away”)

Here are the links to YouTube videos of some of the English versions I like.

  • Dusty Springfield
  • Shirley Bassey
  • Tom Jones – a bit of a different beat than the usual after minute 1:50. Makes it a bit more interesting.
  • Barbra Streisand
  • Patricia Kass – a refreshingly different version. And sexy. Bonus: video features a smolderingly sexy DAMN HAWT Jeremy Irons, shirtless and all.
  • Madonna – Yes, Madonna! Her style of singing here brought to my mind her Evita/Something To Remember period.

And finally… the incomparable Cyndi. The one and only.


Edit on 18 January:

Credit: Thanks so much to the following people who posted and shared the videos above on YouTube, that I may share them here on this blog,

as well as the other people whose videos I have the opportunity to link to.

شم الياسمين Smell the Jasmine, by مشروع ليلى Mashrou’ Leila

Last month I’ve noted a recent song of theirs للوطن Lil Watan in a post here, and this time it’s شم الياسمين Smell the Jasmine that I just have to feature from the Lebanese band, from their self-titled first album released a few years ago. Not just because it’s a love song between two men, but mainly because it’s so simply beautiful.

Thanks to Elhusseiny Ahmed for uploading the video to his Youtube channel.

One can feel the intense longing in his voice, the lead singer Hamed Sinno. To enjoy it even further though, there’s a translation of the lyrics I came across on the site arabislamblog, a news and analysis blog by Jordi Llaonart, a European Arabist and journalist who specializes in the Arab world.

I had requested Mr Llaonart’s permission to use the translation here and it was kindly granted.

شم الياسمين Smell the Jasmine
شم الياسمين و ذق الدبس بطحينه
Smell the jasmine and taste the molasses
و تذكر,تذكر, تذكر, تذكرني لك
Remember, remember, remember to mention me
يا اخي اوعه تنساني
Brother, just don’t forget me
يا حبيبي, يا نصيبي
My lover, my prize
كان بودي خليك بقربي
I would have liked to keep you beside me
عرفك عاأهلي تتوجلي قلبي
Introduce you to my parents, have you crown my heart
طبخ اكلاتك, اشطف لك بيتك
Cook your food, clean your house
دلع ولادك, اعمل ست بيتك
Pamper your children, be your housewife
بس انت ببيتك و انا بشي بيت لك و الله يا ريتك ما بعمرك فليت
But you’re in your house, and I’m in another I wish you never left
هل ياسمين
This jasmine
Forgets me
The jasmine
و شم الياسمين و تذكر تنساني
Smell the jasmine and remember to forget me


Photo by Scott Zona. Click image to go to its source at Wikipedia.

Hamed Sinno

Hamed Sinno screen-shot-2013-08-02-at-12-28-15-am

Image from Raynbow Blog. Click to go there.

Hamed Sinno is the 25-year-old Lebanese lead singer of the Beirut-based band Mashrou’ Leila. Openly gay and goodlooking, Hamed is a charismatic singer whose handsome face and moustache have gotten him compared to the late great Freddie Mercury. Sex appeal-wise, I think Hamed is also touched with an elfin quality which renders him not just sexy but cute too.

His voice is incredibly sexy and is perfect for the songs he and the rest of his band produce. I just came across them recently and have not heard all their songs yet, but the ones I’ve heard so far are dreamily sensuous and touching. Like this one in the video below, Imm El Jacket إم الجاكيت (The Girl with the Jacket). Click here for a translation of the lyrics.

Noha El-Khatib wrote in an interview article for Discord Magazine that he first met Hamed in 2006 when the singer was a freshman at the American University of Beirut. He described Hamed as:

…an intellectually rebellious art student whose presence never went unnoticed, thanks to his ostentatious jokes, inappropriately sharp commentary, and beautiful voice that fetched many admirers before he even performed in public. Sometimes his impromptu lyrics were about sour or taboo topics like child molestation, homosexuality, and violence. Being exposed to his bluntness and volume, however, convinced most of the onlookers to think that he was confident, sexually ambiguous, outgoing, and unfazed by social expectations. Most of that was not true. He was shy, apologetic, struggling through social turbulence, and anxious for knowledge and peace of mind.

Hamed Sinno tumblr_mv6k4nm8xl1rdapy9o1_400

From the tumblr blog mashrou3leilafans. Click to go there.


Hamed Sinno tumblr_mtmpux7Ete1rdapy9o1_400

From the tumblr blog mashrou3leilafans. Click to go there.

Lil Watan للوطن, by Mashrou’ Leila مشروع ليلى

mashrou leila 800px-Demco1

Photo by Tania Trabulsi, taken in December 2009 during an album release concert. Left to right, the members are Ibrahim Badr, Hamed Sinno, Andre Chedid, Carl Gerges, Firas Abou-Fakher, Haig Papazian and Omaya Malaeb. From Wikipedia, click to go there.

Mashrou’ Leila مشروع ليلى is an indie-pop band that sings in Arabic and is based in Beirut, Lebanon. It was formed in February 2008 at the American University of Beirut.

Their lead singer is the handsome and openly-gay Hamed Sinno. The band has also released songs that feature gay love right from the beginning with their 2009 self-titled first album, such as Shim El Yasmine (Smell the Jasmine).

I am delighted to have just been introduced to the band via Gaybros, where redditor Larikush has provided a link to their song Lil Watan للوطن.

The info accompanying the video at YouTube states that the title means ‘For the Motherland’, and that it is:

a song that discusses the way we are taught to acquiesce to the status quo, and the apathy we are rewarded for in Lebanese politics. “Every time you demand change, they make you despair until you sell out all your freedom. They tell you to stop preaching and come dance with them.”

Shake them boobies and booteh, baybeh!

I love the groovy and laid-back yet catchy sounds of the song. For the gist of what the song means, click here for several versions of its Arabic lyrics’ translation. The video itself was kinda ‘meh’ to me at first. However, this is from someone who was ignorant of the intention and message behind the video. From what I gather from comments on YouTube and the band’s Facebook, I’ve learnt that the video expresses a lament on certain segments of society in Lebanon.

Comments about the video on their Facebook include:

  • We’am Hamdan: The video is very sarcastic. VERY. It’s a parody.
  • Asmaa Faris: To everyone complaining about the video. This might be Mashrou Leilas strongest conceptual music video ever. The belly dancing is not the point. It’s about our shallow middle eastern society; how we can be distracted easily.
  • Ahmed Al Tamimi: Obviously the video serves as a parody of the arab world. That’s how arabic musicians sing they stand on a stage and have a girl belly dance around their talent-less selves.
  • George Audi: Love it. The contrast of the band wearing black (mourning the sad state of the country?) contrasted with the disconcerted dancer (the government?) is very well played. The filter effects, low production feel and simplicity of the video only emphasize this point further.