Revolution rock Beirut: Where are the guitars?

‘A system built by the sweat of the many, creates assassins to kill off the few. Take any place and call it a courthouse, this is a place where no judge can stand.’

Joe Strummer – Guns on the roof.

The words of the late Clash frontman in a track about terrorism, war and political corruption are perhaps more relevant today than they were back in 1978. Politicians and zealots still control the lives of the many who struggle for a better future, and justice often feels like a far off land. How I wish old Joe was still around to tell it like it is.

But music still does speak up and bark back, except here in Beirut, at least, in a slightly different voice.

From my wanderings between the city’s various venues it seems the most influential and promising music scene in Lebanon right now is not centered around guitars but instead hip hop. And it makes sense. As a vocal medium, rap music is perfect to discuss social problems with rhythm, express anger without shouting and deliver messages without metaphor.

And don’t get me wrong, I do love hip hop. But my heart can’t help longing to see a young man or woman on stage, singing like a demented preacher and beating a guitar to death with bloodied fingers.

The UK, by contrast, is bursting at the seams with young rebels in testicle choking jeans, snarling away into toilet mirrors in nightclubs before strangling their microphones to death under the spotlight. But the difference is plain to see; the UK suffers nothing near the problems that the Middle East has. Yes, tuition fees for university went up ridiculously (those fuckers), but David Cameron is not exactly Colonel Gadhafi. At least not yet.

So come on guys, pick up the guitars and then smash them to pieces, and let’s see some Lebanese Joe Strummers show the hip hop boys how it’s done.

(P.S.  If I am wrong about this or I am missing out on something then please let me know where you are so I can come and kick out the jams with you.)

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3 responses to “Revolution rock Beirut: Where are the guitars?

  1. The UK scene is dying out though. Most of the clubs won’t play ‘guitar’ music, so instead it’s gut-wrenching dub-step or fucking awful chart music. Quite fittingly I’m actually off to buy a guitar today!

    Rock The Casbah!

  2. Thanks Tom. I really meant the availability of live guitar music, which in the ‘cultural’ cities I am personally familiar with (Glasgow, Edinburgh, Liverpool, Manchester, London) is much more popular than out here. But yes you are right about the pop music with auto-correct vocals. Please read my blog on dubstep for my feelings on that little issue. And don’t buy a guitar, buy 2!

  3. I’ve read it, made me laugh! the white guys with dreads is a very funny sight!

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