The clothes are pure Liberace, while the voice is pure overstated drama, holding legends in it’s poetry. My Istanbul manicurist cannot understand much I say each time I visit her salon in Taxsim, but we share a deep love of Zeki Muren; she like me understands the passion and the pleasure of ‘huzun’ – it’s a Turkish nostalgic active melancholia, which doesn’t really translate into Anglo Saxon script or mindsets.
‘La Boheme’, the song of the immigrant: young, filled with dreams and memories, total 100% genius. An Armenian in Paris, he shares the oriental sense for melancholic memory and melody.
Ferdi Tayfur is like my father, from Adana in the south of Turkey. His cousin Ege used to say, give Suleyman (my Dad) a backgammon set and Ferdi Tayfur songs and he will always be happy. These are songs borne from folklore and mountain fireside tales. My Turkish Grandfather was a revered pehlivan (wrestling champion!) and yayla folk singer, who, enchanted by my Mother, would sing her songs neither of us could understand, but which held the story of the land and their lives in it’s tunes. In Adana real men sport moustaches; Ferdi is let’s be under no doubt here, a real man…
Coming to England, the quest of new dreams: a tailor on Carnaby Street, the verve of Swinging Sixties London, Dad worked for Vogue and met my mother. However, the music didn’t beat rhythm to the same huzun tune, except that is for Tom Jones… He might be Welsh, he might think he is singing soul, but then soul is the blues, and the blues is huzun. Here then, the East meets the West and we can all rock to the groove: albeit sporting new clothes and dancing to a new song. The open shirt, the gold, the hairy chest, if we gazed south you know he’d be wearing Italian slip on shoes; Turkish or Welsh – all very familiar indeed!..