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"
Where was I? Oh, right; Astral Weeks. So 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.