Playlist - The Clothesline Swing
Listen to a playlist curated by Ahmad Danny Ramadan to accompany the publication of The Clothesline Swing and take a musical journey through love, death, nostalgia, and the joy of storytelling.
Kifak Enta – Fairouz
The Clothesline Swing is a book rooted in nostalgia, and this Fairouz song about the first time you meet a loved one years after the last separation, continued to inspire me throughout writing the book. Mainly because the lyrics were never about grand gestures or emotional meetings, but a casual, almost mundane, conversation between two lovers with subtext and depth.
Say Something – A Great Big World and Christina Aguilera
I was emotional writing a certain scene in the book. The mourning my character felt for the death of his father, even with the broken and violent relationship they’ve had all throughout their lives, echoed lots of my own fears and insecurities. This song came randomly on my playlist, and it felt calming and centring. It allowed me to see the depth of this complex emotion: mourning your abuser because blood cares for blood. Still to this day I tear up a little when I hear this song.
Oudak Ranan – Fairouz
This is a song about a woman asking an Oud player to reprise a song he just finished playing. Deep down, it echoes themes of the joy of a community, with choirs of both women and men singing along in the background, demanding the song again. It echoes the theme of storytelling through multiple forms of art and this was meaningful to me.
Cough Syrup - Young The Giant
The wasteful lyrics, the sickly tones and the atmosphere of darkness only uncovered by a song and a dance masking the deep insecurities and fears. Storytelling like a cough syrup, mending the symptoms while you try to go through the cause.
(Also, Sameer Gadhia – the lead vocalist of the band, is a sight to behold. His sexy brownness just makes me ache)
Nizlen Ala Al-Bistan – Kelna Sawa
Traditional Damascene song that was re-imagined as a rock anthem, I live for this kind of art. It’s such an inspirational play on bringing Syrian heritage to the forefront. Kelna Sawa (Together Now) is a lost treasure of Syrian art. The band formed in the late 90s and disappeared in the early 2000s.
Haunted – Beyoncé
If Death, one of my main characters, had a favourite song, this would be it. There is something so powerful about the thin line between death and sexual desire, especially one expressed by a black woman. Also, if I didn’t put a Beyoncé song on this list they will take away my Gay Card.
Lama Bada Yatathana - Lena Chamamyan
A song written and performed back in Andalusia when the Arabs occupied parts of Spain between the 8th and 14th centuries. The artistic impact of combining both Spanish and Arabic styles into one produced some of the most beautiful mosques, homes, poems, and songs. Lena Chamamyan is one of the young and prominent Syrian singers, with a warm and meaningful voice.
The fact that this is a song written possibly 1000 years ago and is still sang till today speaks to heritage and continuity of art -even when it’s paired with conquest and occupation.
What’s Up? – 4 Non Blondes
I wish Linda Perry didn’t wear dreadlocks in this video, but it was the 70s and soul music was a whole big pot of cultural appropriation. Perry, thou, is one hell of a lyricist capable of bringing such complexity to simple sentences. Leave the dreadlocks in the 70s, honey, and I’m all about your music.
Sit down you’re rocking the boat – Guys and Dolls
Tell us in your own words:
Now as I laughed at those passengers to Heaven
A great big wave came and washed me overboard
And as I sank, and I hollered, "Someone save me"
That's the moment I woke up, thank the Lord