Wednesday, September 23, 2009

The Rosanna
عالروزانا الروزانا
Al Rozana

The song "Al Rozana (ع الروزانا)" is a folk song native to the region of the Levant or بلاد الشام, ie Syria, Lebanon, and Palestine. The story behind it is that at the height of the intense wheat famine that the region experienced at the beginning of the 20th century, and Italian ship called "The Rosanna" was said to have been sent carrying food to the starving population of the Levant. Everybody was waiting in anticipation for the ship's arrival, but when it finally landed as the story goes in the song, it was carrying nothing but apples and grapes, on of the foods that the region was actually overflowing with at that time. The people cursed the ship for this reason.

Here are the lyrics.

Oh the Rosanna, the Rosanna, everything good is inside her
What has the Rosanna done?
God punish her!
Oh the Rosanna the Rosanna, all happiness is inside her
What has the Rosanna done?
God punish her

Hey you who are going to Aleppo, my love went with you
Hey you who are carrying grapes and on top of that apples
Everyone is with their beloved and my beloved has gone
Oh lord, may the breeze bring my lover back to me

عالروزانا عالروزانا كل الحلى فيها
شو عملت الروزانا ألله يجازيها
عالروزانا عالروزانا كل الهنا فيها
شو عملت الروزانا الله يجازيها
يا رايحين ل حلب حبي معاكم راح
يا محملين العنب فوق العنب تفاح
كل من حبيبه معه وأنا حبيبي راح
يا ربي نسمة هوى ترد الولف ليا

In an article in al-Watan, Bandar Khalil explains the cultural significance of this event in the present day like this:

With this genuine Arabic song, many questions arise in the mind of the genuine Arab. For example, how many of our people have had all of their rosy dreams met with dark disappointment, and all their hopes were squandered on an endless range of despair, frustration and helplessness? How many of us have waited and were patient and bore all of the their pain, only to find that when our Rosanna came and dropped anchor in the harbor of their dreams, nothing came out of it... We as an Arab people that has spent its whole life waiting for numerous "Rosannas" which still have never arrived, while carrying further disappointment for our dreams, how many times must we hear this song each day?

Yet, we shouldn't take this song as perceived by every listener as a song that sums up the broken dreams of the Arab people. Nonetheless, the theme of disappointment pervades discussion of the song. One poster in another forum describes the song as perfect for expression the feeling of disappointment by some soccer team. The point is this folk song is very much a song about getting your hopes up only to find that the thing you were waiting for was a mirage.

I've supplied many different versions so everyone can find their favorite.

Sabah Fakhri (صباح فخري)

Tony Hana (طوني حنا) with Gypsy Band

Lena Chamamian (لينا شماميان)

Amal Marcus (أمل مرقص)


Anonymous said...

hey, in the last MESA there was a presentation about this song, which agreed with me, that this song is really about the window style specific window to the Middle East (the paper was about Jerusalem). That window is high, so people in the street can't see it, but women in the house can see the people passing by. In this situation love stories had the romantic touch of the Rozana!

Chris Gratien said...

i would like to read that paper would you happen to know who presented it?