Wednesday, June 19, 2013

Mar Mar Aye | Ein Shin Ma

Reupped by reader request here. (And thanks to Peter Doolan for the image above.)

[Note: Since this post was written last year, Mar Mar Aye did in fact return to perform in Myanmar. See video just below.]

Honestly, I can almost not stand to listen to "Achi Yei" from this album, it is so devastatingly beautiful. There are only a handful of songs that can still make me feel this way, what with goosebumps rising on skin, eyes tearing up, fingers poised at keyboard as though I might be some digital age Lester Bangs readying myself to pour heart out into 1,000 heavy, soulful words on Van Morrison's Astral Weeks:
  • A mawaal by Najwa Karam, "Baladeeat," from her first album
  • Kazim Al Saher's "Waneen"
  • SD Burman's "Jaye To Jaye Kahan" from the Taxi Driver soundtrack, sung by Lata Mangeshkar.
  • Fairuz's "Mush Qasah Hay" 
So, as I've been hinting at lo these last few days, my Burmese connection, Zaw, recently called me, intoning our mutually agreed upon code phrase ("the hibiscus-secreting pink top in Pixie Hollow is circumscribed in invisible 'chaw-NEE-naw' ink") followed by the pound sign (#), to let me know that the artists whose CDs I requested he burn for me (@ $1.50 ea.) were ready to be picked up. Wait, no, I fucked that sentence up. The artists weren't ready; their CDs were.

Where was I? Oh, right; Astral WeeksSo when I arrived at the magical, mysterious Thiri Video, Zaw stepped forward to greet me and usher me across the hardwood floor of what, essentially, is his and his wife's apartment, past the kitchen, to the computer table near the back door, from which he scooped up a stack of SONY CD-R 700 MB discs in white sleeves (the image on the right being the very one you're downloading now). "I got everything I could by Mar Mar Aye," he explained--a dozen albums, as it turns out. He also burned three Poe Ei Sans and six Ni Ni Win Shwes. It's so symmetrical--12, 6, 3--I worry, frankly, though Zaw assured me that was a coincidence. (By saying absolutely nothing about it because, to be honest, I didn't ask him anything about it.)

Making the trade (cash, CDs), we exchanged our secret handshake (facing each other, each with right arm extended, bent upward at elbow to make an L, hands waving back and forth) and bid each other a pleasant afternoon, as I walked back out into the greatest city in America, Lester Bangs's "Desolation, hurt, and anguish are hardly the only things in life; they're just the things that we can most easily grasp and explicate" weaving in and out of my memory.

Postscript: Several days ago, a Burmese poet and Facebook friend posted to let us know that, after years in Exile here in the U.S., Mar Mar Aye will soon be making her first trip back to Myanmar.


Holly said...

Looking forward to exploring this, Gary - & in honesty right now you made me go & watch more of the fabulous Najwa Karam ;-)

Anonymous said...

Sun Ra should have hung out with some Burmese musicians before leaving this planet - I think they speak the same fearless musical language :-)
Thank You Thank You
Track 3!? Wonderful...

Dan Kelley said...

I am wondering if you can send me the exact address where Thiri Video is. I tried to go to 88-34 50th Avenue and the guy who answered the door there said that he sold food from that address, but not music. I have been wondering if he got confused by me mistakenly asking if he sold Thai music, rather than Burmese. Can you clarify the address for me so I can go see this place? Thanks

Gary said...

Hi Dan,

That's the address, yes, and they sell food, books, DVDs, VCDs, cassettes and CDs.

It does sound like when you said Thai he probably just thought you had come to the wrong place.

gypsykat said...

Looking forward to hearing more Poe Ei Sans!

Anonymous said...

A Chit Yay is one of my favorite old song by Herp U Thein Phay. Thank you for the Album upload.

Unfortunately I can't find original song(vinyl) .. I only have this ( feat by Ko Min Naung )


Rochacrimson said...

Many many thanks Gary!!!