Cemalim

In 2011 Turkish DJ and musician Baris K put out a series of records under the title Istanbul ’70, a collection of songs from Turkey in the late 60s and early 70s, Turkish psyche, disco, funk and folk. In the wake of The Beatles and The Rolling Stones Turkish artists in the mid 60s began to fuse traditional Turkish  music with rock, creating Anatolian Rock. The opening song on Volume 1 is a favourite of mine, a groovy, slightly psychedelic masterpeice. Carried by a smart acoustic guitar riff and a lead acid rock part with some intermittent drone from an organ over which Erkin Koray sings (and does his own reverb laden backing vox). It speeds up towards the end, percussion going into overdrive and the guitar solo flies the freak flag. Pretty trippy.

Cemalim

Erkin Koray is one of the pioneers of Anatolian Rock and is still recording. Cemalim came out in 1974 on an album titled Elektronik Turkuler (which translates as Electronic Ballads), Koray’s first full length lp after making a series of 45s. The Istanbul ’70 series covers loads more Turkish artists from the period, handpicked by the expert ears of Baris K.

Sometimes with songs sung in a foreign language it’s actually a pleasure to not know or understand what the lyrics are about, to put your own version into the words based on the singer’s voice. Curiosity got the better of me with Ceralim. Google led me to a post on Reddit where someone asked for a translation of the song. The song is from the eyes of a woman named Serife from Ürgüp. She married a wealthy man called Cemal who after a couple of years was killed in a treacherous attack. She was left alone with a young son.

A translation site offers this version (there are others with some lyrical differences but a similar gist).
‘May you be merry, Ürgüp, your smoke doesn’t fume
Cem’s mansion doesn’t hire my grizzly horse
Your son is too young, doesn’t replace you
My Cemal, my Cemal, my weak Cemal
You’ve remained in red blood my Cemal
They saw me getting out of Ürgüp
They knew from my grizzly horse’s leaping
They decided to kill me
My Cemal, my Cemal, my weak Cemal
You’ve remained in red blood my Cemal’