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One of the major influences that combined to form Western psychedelic rock was traditional Asian music. But musicians in Asia picked up the vibe pretty quickly and started to play their own versions of it. Lately I’ve been listening to a great compilation of the stuff, and I’m particularly struck by the 1975 track “Gönül Sabreyle Sabreyle” (hear it streamed here). The band playing it is the brother trio Üç Hürel, “The Three Hürels”, and the song’s title would in English be something like “Oh Sabreyle, my heart, Sabreyle”. Reading up about the band on the web, I’ve learned that the Hürel brothers released only two albums before disbanding for decades, and that this track is on the second, more Western-styled one: Hürel Arsivi (1976). Calling them an Asian band isn’t strictly correct though, as they’re from Istanbul.

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The musicianship is great: just listen to the darbouka drum fills. Awesome. And youngest brother Feridun Hürel not only sings his heart out for the apparently cruel and unyielding or otherwise unavailable Sabreyle, he also plays the fuzz guitar solo and the electrified saz solo on the same two-necked instrument, and wrote the song. Talented guy! The song’s clearly a classic in Turkey: poking around I’ve found a number of covers, ranging from overdecorated 80s metal versions to a grizzled guy alone with a saz.

I tried machine-translating the lyrics, but I couldn’t get them to make much sense (“Assortment eating does not always go”, errr…). I’d be much obliged if somebody with the necessary language skills would translate them. Myself, I pretty much only know the Turkish word for “sausage”.

Update same day: Dear Reader Samarkeolog of Human Rights Archaeology came through with a translation! Turns out “sabreyle” is not the name of some dark-eyed Bosporanean wench after all.

Every winter has a spring
Every night has a morning
Enough now leave
The heart with a sword

Every rise has a fall
Surely one day the person will smile
Happiness is a work of patience
The heart with a sword

Grieving does not always go
Spring does not come without patience
This love is not enough for this world
The heart with a sword

Comments

  1. #1 samarkeolog
    July 24, 2009

    Okay, I’m not entirely certain about this translation, and I’m sure some of it’s wrong (basically, where it sounds cack).

    There’s no possessive suffix on the heart – “my heart (gönülüm)” or “his/her heart (gönülü)”, and no accusative suffix on it either, and the word “sabreyle” appears to be sabre-(y)le – sword(+speech-smoothing “y”)+with – rather than “with Sabre”.

    But anyway:

    Her kışın var bir baharı [every winter is a spring],
    Her akşamın var sabahı [every evening is a morning],
    Yeter artık bırak ahı [enough now leave],
    Yeter artık bırak ahı [enough now leave],
    Gönül sabreyle sabreyle [the heart with a sword, with a sword],
    Gönül sabreyle sabreyle [the heart with a sword, with a sword],
    Gönül sabreyle [the heart with a sword]…
    Her yokuşun var inişi [every rise has a fall],
    Elbet bir gün güler kişi [surely one day the person will smile].
    Mutluluk bir sabır işi [happiness is a work of patience/endurance],
    Mutluluk bir sabır işi [happiness is a work of patience/endurance].
    Gönül sabreyle sabreyle [the heart with a sword, with a sword],
    Gönül sabreyle sabreyle [the heart with a sword, with a sword],
    Gönül sabreyle [the heart with a sword]…
    Gam yeme hep böyle gitmez [grieving does not always go],
    Sabretmeden bahar gelmez [spring does not come without patience].
    Bu sevda dünyaya yetmez [this love is not enough for this world],
    Bu sevda dünyaya yetmez [this love is not enough for this world].
    Gönül sabreyle sabreyle [the heart with a sword, with a sword],
    Gönül sabreyle sabreyle [the heart with a sword, with a sword],
    Gönül sabreyle [the heart with a sword]…

  2. #2 samarkeolog
    July 24, 2009

    And actually, immediately, I would say it’s supposed to be “every winter has a spring”, “every evening night has a morning”…

  3. #3 Gabriel
    July 24, 2009

    Turkish music is, in general, awesome. It is always good to learn more sources of pure turkish delight; thanks!

  4. #4 DianaGainer
    July 25, 2009

    I agree that ‘Every winter HAS a spring’ is correct. But although literally ‘the heart with a sword’ is correct, colloquially, one would render this also with a possessive: “the heart has a sword.” The English verb “have” does not translate quite literally into Turkish but is rendered in various ways. One person’s heart is capable of wielding this sword, in any case (presumably against the singer). That’s the idea.

  5. #5 Martin R
    July 25, 2009

    I’m amazed by the language skills of this blog’s readers!

    What about the line “Surely one day the person will smile” — it sounds a little abstract and formal?

  6. #6 Carwinrpc
    July 25, 2009

    I’m always struck by how odd Turkish singing sounds when the genre is essentially western. I’m referring to the relative lack of cadence in the language. I wonder if that’s because of it’s agglutination. A song that was immensely popular in Turkey when I lived there is “Daglar, Daglar” –I loved it when I first heard it 40 years ago, but listening to it now, I’m struck by how the language doesn’t serve the beat in the same way as it does when the language is English, for instance. It seems flat and relatively featureless.

    This isn’t a criticism of this song or any song in Turkish, just an observation.

    PS–I don’t know how to for the character for the soft g, thus it looks like I’m ignorant of the spelling of “Daglar, Daglar,” apologies.

  7. #7 samarkeolog
    July 25, 2009

    [quote]I agree that ‘Every winter HAS a spring’ is correct. But although literally ‘the heart with a sword’ is correct, colloquially, one would render this also with a possessive: “the heart has a sword.” The English verb “have” does not translate quite literally into Turkish but is rendered in various ways. One person’s heart is capable of wielding this sword, in any case (presumably against the singer). That’s the idea.[/quote]

    Yes, Diana, I agree with you. I knew the line felt wrong, but I couldn’t think through what it was supposed to be. I didn’t know whether it was some enigmatic half-sentence or reference to something else I didn’t get. (That’s why I went through all of the confused blurb with the lack of possessives, etc.)

    It feels a lot better with fewer of the lyrics niggling away at the back of my mind. Thank you!

  8. #8 samarkeolog
    July 25, 2009

    Maybe “elbet bir gün güler kişi” should just be “one day the person will smile”? I dunno, that doesn’t sound any better.

    Diana, help! Sometimes Turkish grammar’s so far from English it breaks me.

    Don’t worry about the ğ carwinrpc, I think you have to download it (the Turkish alphabet) specially, and then it doesn’t render half the time (not even in Gmail, etc.). We know what you mean. :o)

    Did you mean this “daglar, daglar” (http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=tE-Jsj8v1Wk)? I’m not sure, but I think sometimes there’s a bit of stiff-upper-lip sentiment, when they try to show they’re butchly holding back a tide of emotion.

    But I think Turkish, Kurdish, Armenian, Assyrian, Greek, etc. music is quite closely related, so I’m not quite sure what you mean by Western.

  9. #9 samarkeolog
    July 28, 2009

    Cheers for the h/t. Don’t forget Diana’s shame-saving corrections! :o)

  10. #10 Cavit Tuten
    April 8, 2012

    You can find so many historical data about Turkish music. For example the Ottoman doctors was using music for psychological illness.

    And also please search Dombıra from Youtube. İt is one of the oldest Turkish musical instrument. And also listen “ney” to relax

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