Youth of Lebanon find Freedom in Rock and Roll

In Time Magazine, which I read yesterday, there was an short article on Beirut, Lebanon that really struck me as interesting. It was focused on the indie rock scene that has grown out of some of the youth culture of that city and country.

Lebanon has been torn by war and both internal and external strife for quite some time now. I'm not a political analyst, historian or world events expert so I won't try to explain any of the details. Also, I'll admit to a bit of naivete in that like many people, I did not think the Middle East the most likely place for an up and coming rock scene. When I really started thinking about why I listen to rock and roll, the kinds of artists I like and why I like them, everything sort of started falling into place and I discarded that opinion. I even feel a little shocked at how naive I had been in my first snap judgments and little guilty about perhaps making some assumptions about a culture that I am not entirely familiar with. Maybe both of those things are part of why I chose to write a post about this article, but I think it's mainly because it is an interesting look at rock and roll and it's relationship with society.

The article features snippets from an interview with one of the bands from the up and coming rock scene in Beirut where they talk about how rock and roll is a source of freedom from the conflict. This idea really struck home for me as rock and roll is very much about freedom, not only physical freedom, but also freedom of expression and the freedom to think outside the societal norms. Isn't that part of what scared so many conservative people about rock and roll initially? That it was challenging societal norms? The members of the band interviewed even draw a correlation between the Middle East and the culture of the United States in the 1950s calling both "...sexually repressed conservative societies dominated by religion and an ideological cold war,". In that viewpoint, it makes sense that a new rock and roll scene would come out of the Middle East as the it shares such a similar social climate as that which originally gave birth to some of the best music of all time. In both cases the youth are rebelling through rebellious music: rock and roll.

I also get the impression from the interview that the bands have really found in their music an outlet for for their culture as well as some of their frustration and feelings about the conflicts that are part of everyday like in Lebanon. Some of my favorite music came out of frustration from war and culture related strife here in America. Conflict, whether internal or external, can serve as a fuel for great art, both musical and otherwise. That was the case during the 60s in America and it looks to also be the case of for the talented youth of Beirut, Lebanon and the whole Middle East, who find their freedom in rock and roll.

Music can make a difference in the world because it is driven by emotion and is also a vehicle for those emotions, helping to convey them to someone else. This seems like obvious proof of that where individuals have found something in rock and roll that allows them to express the feelings they have and help get them across to other people. Maybe those feelings will help to influence other people's minds, give others an outlet for their own emotions or just let people escape for a little while from the conflicts and have some freedom... at least for little while.

It was definitely an interesting little article that is worth reading if you get the chance (it's only a page). I think it is a great example of rock and roll once again as the vehicle of expression for the youth, how rock and roll interacts with society and also how music can transcend borders and cultural boundaries far more than we realize.

Looking at some of the concepts behind the music of some of the bands playing the Beirut scene it looks like it has the potential to be powerfully emotional. I think I'll keep a closer eye on the rock and roll scene over in Beirut.

References: Time Magazine October 1, 2007 Vol 170 No. 14


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