Mashrou’ Leila: Lil Watan (لِلْوَطَن)

Video: Mashrou’ Leila – Lil Watan ( Official Music Video ) from Mashrou’ Leila on YouTube.

“Lil Watan”, from Mashrou’ Leila’s third album Raasuk (2013), serves up the sort of socio-political critique for which the band has become well known. The lyrics describe an environment where patriotism is exploited, apathy and despair are cultivated, freedoms are surrendered in the name of national salvation, and challenges to the decrepit political order are met with claims of conspiracy and accusations of treason. Meanwhile the citizenry is distracted from its miserable circumstances with an invitation to “Come dance with me a bit.”

The specific connection to Lebanon is made clear in the description of the song on its official YouTube video page:

Lil Watan, the second release off of Mashrou’ Leila’s third album Raasϋk 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.”

The title of the song evokes the Lebanese national anthem, which begins with the words “kullunā lilwaTan / كلنا للوطن” (“All of us for the nation”). These words also appear twice at the end of each of the anthem’s three verses. The anthem is referenced in the lyrics: “They taught you the anthem; they said your struggle is useful for the nation”.

The video was recorded at Metro al-Medina in Hamra, Beirut, and it features a belly dancer (Randa Makhoul) gyrating to the music while the musicians themselves are relegated to the margins. This is explained by the creative director of the video, Areej Mahmoud:

In this song, a parody is created around Arabic Media and the hedonistic lifestyle of the Lebanese, that is constantly diverting the attention of people from the real problems that face the country. Instead of working to resolve our issues, we resort to “dancing”.

The video features an icon of the Arabic Pop culture, the belly dancer, usually featured in decadent music videos and used as a sex symbol, a diversion. The dancer steals the attention of the viewer from the strong lyrics and from the band.

When this video was launched, it aroused a discussion, not about the video, but about the diversions that we create in our society to distract us from moving forward.
(http://cargocollective.com/areej/Mashrou-Leila-Lil-Watan)

The invitation to “Come dance with me” naturally calls to mind the album title – “raĀĀaSūk / رَقَّصوك” – which is also the name of another song on the album. Violinist Haig Papazian explains in an interview that “‘Raasük’ … literally means ‘they made you dance,’ but in the context of the song it means ‘you’ve been choreographed. You’ve been given the exact moves and that’s how you’re supposed to dance.’”

“Lil Watan” © 2013 by Mashrou’ Leila
Official lyrics page: http://mashrou3leila.blogspot.com/search/label/LIL%20WATAN
Lyrics and translation of “Lil Watan” are printed here by the Lebanese Arabic Institute with the permission of the copyright owner.

firqaŧ: mašrū3 laylā فِرْقَة: مَشْروع لَيْلَى
Āuğniyeŧ: lilwaTan
أُغْنِيِة: لِلْوَطَن
Āalbōm: raĀĀaSūk (2013)
أَلْبوم: رَقَّصوك (2013)
ğayrnā rawwaD Āa3āSīr layitHakkam bilmaSīr غَيْرنا رَوَّض أَعاصير لَيِتْحَكَّم بِالمَصير
niHnā min nasīm minTīr wimnirtadd 3alā ttidmīr نِحْنا مِن نَسيم مِنْطير وِمْنِرْتَدّ على التِّدْمير
bass titjarraĀ bisuĀāl 3an tadahwur lĀaHwāl بَسّ تِتْجَرَّأ بِسُؤال عَن تَدَهْوُر الأَحْوال
bisaktūk bši3ārāt 3an kull lmuĀāmarāt بِسَكْتوك بْشِعارات عَن كُلّ المُؤامَرات
Ḱawwanūk lĀaTī3 kill mā Tālabt btiğyīr lwaTan خَوَّنوك القطيع كِلّ ما طالَبْت بْتِغْيير الوَطَن
yaĀĀasūk Hattā tbī3 Hurriyētak lamā yDī3 lwaTan يَأَّسوك حَتّى تْبيع حُرِّياتَك لَما يْضيع الوَطَن
Others have tamed hurricanes to be in control of destiny
As for us, we are blown away by a breeze and fall back into destruction
If you dare question the deteriorating situation
They silence you with slogans about all the conspiracies
The sheeple accuse you of treason whenever you called for change in the nation
They caused you to despair so that you sell your freedoms for the nation not to be lost
Āālūlak قالولَك
Hāj tbaššir, ta3ā raĀĀiSné šwayyeŧ حاج تْبَشِّر، تَعا رَقِّصْني شْوَيِّة
léš mkaššir, ta3ā raĀĀiSné šwayyeŧ ليش مْكَشِّر، تَعا رَقِّصْني شْوَيِّة
They said to you
Enough preaching, come dance with me a bit
Why are you frowning, come dance with me a bit
3allamūk nnašīd, Āālō Sirā3ak mufīd lilwaTan عَلَّموك النَّشيد، قالو صِراعَك مُفيد لِلْوَطَن
Ḱaddarūk bilwarīd, Āālō Ḱumūlak mufīd lilwaTan خَدَّروك بِالوَريد، قالو خُمولَك مُفيد لِلْوَطَن
They taught you the anthem; they said your struggle is useful for the nation
They drugged you in the vein; they said your lethargy is useful for the nation
Āālūlak قالولَك
Hāj tbaššir, ta3ā raĀĀiSné šwayyeŧ حاج تْبَشِّر، تَعا رَقِّصْني شْوَيِّة
léš mkaššir, ta3ā raĀĀiSné šwayyeŧ ليش مْكَشِّر، تَعا رَقِّصْني شْوَيِّة
Hāj tbaššir, ta3ā raĀĀiSné šwayyeŧ حاج تْبَشِّر، تَعا رَقِّصْني شْوَيِّة
léš mkaššir, ta3ā raĀĀiSné šwayyeŧ ليش مْكَشِّر، تَعا رَقِّصْني شْوَيِّة
They said to you
Enough preaching, come dance with me a bit
Why are you frowning, come dance with me a bit
Enough preaching, come dance with me a bit
Why are you frowning, come dance with me a bit
Āālūlak قالولَك
Hāj tbaššir, ta3ā raĀĀiSné šwayyeŧ حاج تْبَشِّر، تَعا رَقِّصْني شْوَيِّة
léš mkaššir, ta3ā raĀĀiSné ليش مْكَشِّر، تَعا رَقِّصْني
Hāj tbaššir, ta3ā raĀĀiSné حاج تْبَشِّر، تَعا رَقِّصْني
They said to you
Enough preaching, come dance with me a bit
Why are you frowning, come dance with me
Enough preaching, come dance with me

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