Googoosh fans at London concert. Photo by C. Kadivar
Falling in love again
Thoughts after Googoosh's concert in London
By Cyrus Kadivar
January 19, 2001
In those dreamy days, before the revolution, a lovely voice could be
heard in the garden of roses. From dawn to dusk, the nightingale serenaded
us with songs drawn from a life filled with more drama than anything she
Gathered around our battery-operated radio or television sets in Iran,
wherever we were, we would listen to the lively concerts of Faegheh Atashin,
better known as Googoosh.
She was our beloved nightingale and never again has there been a more
popular icon so loved by young and old, rich and poor, men and women. Then
one day a violent storm destroyed our garden, the roses were trampled and
our nightingale stopped singing. She watched the dark clouds cover the
blue sky. Everything changed.
She heard the bad news that the gates were shut. The land of the nightingale
grew too sad to warrant a song and the happy faces fled to hide their tears.
The sunlight in her heart became a shadow. Her heart was broken. For almost
two decades, she preferred to forget her name. Imprisoned in a gilded cage
she became a silent singer.
Memory may grow dim, the true story merged into legend, just as words
and music blend into a song. But when, after all the instruments had fallen
silent and every voice extinguished, there lingered for a very long time,
an echo the same eerie quiet that descended upon a grand house once
inhabited with joy and laughter. We became exiles, millions wandering aimlessly
in the proverbial desert. With the stars and the moon as our only friends,
we murmured her tunes, until we found refuge in foreign lands.
Without her, in the city of exiles, nothing was ever the same again.
The happiness we had known became poison to us. We needed each other to
cross over the bridge of differences and become one again for without her
we were a broken frame on the wall.
Lamenting our loss we buried our souvenirs. We moved on and pretended
to smile again. And if the life we once knew grew further away her memory
never left us. For all the years of separation from our homeland. the aura
of Googoosh lingered in our hearts and minds.
Then one day someone opened the cage and the nightingale
flew towards us to win our love and her voice. One January evening, Googoosh,
deep in the throes of stage fright, brought thousands of exiles to their
feet, many crying, with a voice that proved both defiant and undiminished
by time. "In the name of Iran and Iranians... As long as I have you,
I am always in love."
Struggling with her emotions, Googoosh threw back her blonde hair and
held out her hands to show they were shaking. The crowd immediately burst
into raucous whistles and cheers. Their noise was infectious and soon others
joined in as Googoosh leaned against a white piano. She sang with her eyes
closed, as if letting go of the pain. And when tears slipped from her eyes,
her fans at Wembley arena roared. "Googoosh! Googoosh! Googoosh!"
It took one song to bring it all back. She sang
of love and sorrow with such emotion that many people seated in the audience
cried. Her voice was magical, her vitality extraordinary.
With her graceful gestures, Googoosh, now 50, danced the night away
with the same cheeky love of life that had made her a star at the height
of her career twenty-one years ago when the fundamentalist mollas banned
her music as decadent. Dressed in gold and white, she sparkled in the dark.
Behind her a thousand tiny lights twinkled like a galaxy of stars.
For two hours, as an 18-piece band played away, past, present and future
merged as one unforgettable experience. The instruments came to life again.
We heard the flute, the strings of a guitar, the drum and piano. Old and
new melodies filled with metaphors. The stage exploded and from the sky
poured countless pieces of colored hearts.
That night we all fell in love again. We became young and frivolous
again. We were happy and sad. We were family again. We found our souls
again. We embraced each other again.
Had the beautiful nightingale become a simorgh? Everything was reborn.
Our fond memories of our ancient land rushed down like melting snow through
the mountains towards the green pastures leaving us with the hope that
the winter would soon give way to spring.
And when she flew away towards another branch we watched her rise above
the hands eager to catch her. That night in London, I thought we heard
the sweet sound of liberty ringing in our ears. The nightingale had brought
us a message of better days ahead:
How can I not exist?
For in my Heart's desire;
There is the chirping of
hundreds of drunken birds.
If I sing again;
our fields will be green again.
If I sing again;
The girls will read poetry once more.
If I sing again;
The boys will fall in love in the
Classrooms all over
Googoosh performed in London on Saturday, January 6th, 2001 at the
Wembley arena in front of 7,000 Iranians and several hundred European and
Middle Eastern fans. She will return to London shortly before the Persian
New Year in March