Some of you may have read a piece I wrote about Dariush Eghbali, the Iranian singer a few weeks ago [Addicted to Dariush].
I had mentioned what he meant to me, well, his music actually. It has always been a sort of “wish”, for lack of a better word, for me to see the man and thank him for the legacy of strong lyrics accompanied by wonderful music.
My wife has a very good friend who lives in DC. She has a nephew who was politically active in Iran during the early years of Mullaism in Iran. He was arrested, charged with treason, and put in jail to wait for his sentence, which was death by hanging. Hanging is a Mullah specialty in Iran, something pleasurable to see a young man's body dangling in mid air that gets some people off, I guess.
Our friend went to hell and back for this sentence and after years of working double and triple shifts at her job and paying off those in charge at Evin Prison and the court system in Iran, she finally managed to buy his “sentence”. He is still in jail, but due to good behavior and money adding up to well over 300,000 dollars in bribes, he is free to come and go. He has to report to jail every few days or so.
When he was asked what kept him or many young men like him hopeful and alive in those dark moments, when he knew he was to be executed, he answered, “Dariush's songs”. His music was one of the only things smuggled into jail for him and his buddies to listen to.
I have often talked to Iranian men who weren't lucky enough to leave Iran before the revolution or the nasty Iran/Iraq war and most talk about how it was Dariush's music they listened to at the front or in their barracks. It is amazing how one music has such impact on a certain group in certain circumstances.
Anyway, the long anticipated Dariush concert was attended. My wife next to me, while she was playing musical chairs with my other friends, who I wanted to be next to me too and we all enjoyed the concert. Even my wife's cousin, who wasn't too crazy about attending, came out with a newfound respect for his music.
The night was electric before Dariush hit the stage and a bit disappointing after that and ended with a bang. His “band” was not in tune and one could see that he was a bit unhappy about it. I am used to seeing him in much bigger venues, such as The Greek Theatre or the Universal Amphitheatre in Los Angeles. It really doesn't get bigger and more majestic than that, at least not for Dariush. The music in those places engulfs you and a fan will simply melt into the music.
There are usually somewhere in the upper five to six thousands in the audience, the sound is amazing, the stage decorated very tastefully and the orchestra much larger with back up singers.
We were looking at about a thousand in the audience, seven-member band, and very little energy from the crowd. But over all it was still a good concert. Mae West, an American movie star of the 30's used to say, “good sex is good, when it's bad it's still pretty good”. Dariush's concert, at least for me, is still good when it's not that good.
The focus of the concert was to get our friend who was a die hard fan of Dariush for years and used to follow him from concert to concert and now suffers from MS, (Multiple Sclerosis), to meet Dariush back stage.
I had sent an email to him a couple of weeks before the concert and posted the article on Iranian.com and had everyone whom I thought might have contact with him to see if we can take our friend, Soheyla, backstage to meet with him.
All the hard work paid off. She was wheeled backstage right after the concert and met with him. This is a woman who hasn't left the house for a few years and didn't want to go to the concert. She came out of the backstage with a digital camera with her picture with Dariush. You couldn't slap that huge smile off of her face!
As I had told my friends, who knew how much I would love to meet Dariush, having Soheyla meet him will mean more to me than anything else. She did, he received her well, and even though I wasn't there, I couldn't have been more satisfied to have Soheyla meet her idle.
None of us know if she would be able to go to another one of his concerts again, but I had all my friends and loved ones promise that next year we'll go and see him in LA.
There are a few who understand what it means to have been there and how strong those words mixed with beautiful music will heal decade old wounds.
I thank my friends, my wife, and her beautiful cousin for accompanying me. I love you all, you know it.