Lebanon is well known as the country of everlasting revolution; resistant oppression and surviving national hurdles are part of who we are as a nation. Our people have lived through many wars and many political changes and collapses but were always able to rise above all as ONE nation.
That reality is so entrenched in our history that it has been part of our pop-culture for ages. Our dabke dance style reflects that patriotic power in unity, which we also tend to do during any type of manifestations.
Similarly, too many of our songs express patriotism and love for our country. In this time of the nation’s revolution, it is only right to remember them. So, here are some of the songs you might want to carry along with you when you go on the streets these days:
#1. Nashid Al Thawra. The Revolution Anthem – Ziad Rahbani (1974)
Ziad Rahbani is a symbol of revolution and is said to have predicted the Lebanese Civil War which erupted in 1975 in his play Nazl El Sourour (The Happy Hotel). Rahbani himself rejected this claim of augury and insisted that the play was based on real-life incidents.
One of the songs in this play was Nashid Al Thawra, the Anthem of Revolution, which speaks about people suffering, wondering about who Lebanese people are dying for, all while starving. Empowering lyrics: Years have passed without sleep; we decided to wake up today; my country, do not blame us; we are far away from being blamed.
#2 Ya Watani. O my homeland – Marcel Khalifeh (1970s)
Marcel Khalifeh was the voice of a National Resurrection during the Civil War and after that. Ya Watani is a cheerful patriotic song that assures Lebanon that we choose it lovingly, voluntarily, secretly, and publicly.
Empowering lyrics: Always green my heart is, even if sorrow was shown in my eyes / always revolutionary my heart is, even if my mornings became nights.
#3 Li Beirut. To Beirut – Fairouz (1984)
If her son is a symbol of revolution, Fairouz is a symbol of Lebanon as a whole country. Out of many patriotic songs, the closest to my heart is Li Beirut, a song that greets what once was the capital of the Middle East and the capital of “Eastern Switzerland.” A title that we shall soon reclaim, InshAllah.
Empowering lyrics: Greetings from my heart to Beirut; kisses to the sea and to the houses; to a rock that is similar to an old sailor’s face.
#4 Ya Rayeh Sob Bladi. You who are heading towards my country – Ahmad Kaabour (1978)
We all know Ahmad Kaabour from his revolutionary song Ounadikom, I Am Calling For You, which always rises goosebumps down our spine. In 1987, Kaabour released a self-written song called “Ya Rayeh Sob Bladi” after the first Israel invasion of Lebanon that is as powerful as Ounadikom.
Empowering lyrics: To you who are going to Litani, please send my greetings; greet the people of Nabatieh in the morning and pass by Khiam on your way.
#5 Ya Thowar Al Ared. O revolutionists of the land – Julia Boutrous
Julia Boutrous is our modern revolution Anthem voice. With a voice so strong and pure, Boutrous called out in this song all the revolutionists of the land to rise against tyranny and suppression.
Empowering lyrics: You are the revolution; you are the conscious that stays awake at night; you are the strict justice; you are the scent of change.
#6 Beirut Set El Dounya. Beirut, Lady of the Universe – Majida Al Roumi (1980’s)
In this song, written by the great poet Nizar Kabbani and sang by another symbol of patriotism, Majida Al Roumi calls out Beirut to rise from the destruction that it suffered in the Civil War, to rise from ashes just like a flower in April.
Empowering lyrics: Rise for the love of rivers, valleys and humans; Revolution is born from the womb of sorrows.
#7 Tar Al Balad. The country has gone. – Ragheb Alameh (2018)
Tar Al Balad is a song that actually speaks of the current sufferings of the Lebanese people. It sparked controversial opinions across Lebanon, but surely was a slap to politicians who expressed their dislike for the song and the artist.
Empowering lyrics: dreams are burning out and our conscious is asleep; The more time passes the more the situation is getting worse.
From what I have seen these past three days in the protest at Riad El-Solh, this protest seems as if it is sponsored by Assi Hellani’s song! Everywhere you go, you will find people chanting it and dancing to its Lebanese upbeat rhythm.
Empowering lyrics: Hero of peace and hero of war, link between the east and the west, to continue loving and be loved just tell them you are Lebanese.
#9. Raje3 Yit3ammar Loubnan. Lebanon will be rebuilt.– Zaki Nassif (1960s)
Zaki Nassif was and will always remain one of the major assets of Lebanese music folklore. Raje3 Yit3ammar is a very loved yet timeless song that not only gives people hope that Lebanon can be rebuilt again but that it will be rebuilt even better than before. Helyaba Helyaba raje3 Lebnan!
Empowering lyrics: Lebanese people hold each other’s hands tight, we have returned to dabke and to songs, we have good intentions and we have God on our sides.
#10. Allo Beirut – Sabah (circa 1970-1980)
Beirut will always have a warm place in our hearts, and we will forever carry it inside our hearts and within our songs. Sabah takes us with this song into a quick tour in Beirut where she stops to search for her “lost” heart in Sanayeh, then goes in a meshwar (leisure walk) to Rawche.
Empowering lyrics: I was born and my love for human beings was born with me; I do not see a difference between Zaid or Omar; all people are so beloved to my heart.
#11 Al Hak Ma Bmut. The right never dies. – Joseph Attieh (2009)
This song is also a modern song that was released three years after the infamous Israeli aggression of Lebanon in 2006 and the internal conflicts at that time. In this song, Joseph reassures people that Lebanon will recover, that the right doesn’t die, and that the sun will rise again and decorate the sky of Beirut.
Empowering lyrics: Don’t say you want to go and leave your country wounded; when the soul leaves the body, it is bound to die.
#12 Bektob Esmik Ya Bladi. I write your name O my country – Joseph Azar (1973)
Another classic from our rich folklore music. The song’s writer Elie Shweiri wrote this song while on a flight from Beirut to the United States of America, already feeling nostalgic to Lebanon. We salute our diaspora who we know are feeling nostalgic everyday being away from Lebanon.
Empowering lyrics: I will go around the world and cross seven seas; call out for you in your absence my country; so light will go back to the lands.
#13 La Wayn Ya Marwan. Where are going, Marwan? – Wadih Al Safi (1961)
With a voice as powerful as our cedars, our legendary Wadih Al Safi sings to every person who was forced to leave Lebanon to find decent jobs and save up for a better future. Al Safi calls them to stay in Lebanon and fight for their families and for their lands.
Empowering lyrics: This land lives within us and our blood is within it; its richness and goods come from us; our belief in love has created it just like the God of fairness has created us.
#14 Wehyat Elli Raho. By the lives of those left us. – Houda Haddad (1987)
Fairouz’s sister Houda Haddad sang this song in one of the most renowned Rahbani Brothers’ plays Sayf 840 (Summer of 840). It talks about Lebanese Lords forming a revolution against the Ottoman Empire and fighting against corruption and injustice.
Empowering lyrics: To my martyred friend, to my homeless people; we will meet again, we will unite again, this is my promise to you, my imprisoned people.
#15 Shahadin Ya Baladna. Beggers, O our country. – Shoushou (1973)
This is easily one of my favorites because of how close it is to the people and how relatable it feels, even though it has been 46 years since it was first sung in the Akh Ya Baladna play two years before the Lebanese Civil War.
Shoushou, nicknamed by Dehket Lebnan (The Laugh of Lebanon), mocked the government who accuses the people of stealing and begging, when they are actually the ones responsible for all destructions.
Empowering lyrics: Oh my country, we are thirsty and the price of water is 65 (Liras); Oh my country, we are hungry and we don’t have flour or rice; Oh our country we are broke and the banks are full of money.