When I was a teenager I had a friend who used to go by the name of Marco, his name was actually Mohammed but in Italy at that time it must have been hard enough for him to deal with all the bullying and racist comment he received, a more standard name, at least, wouldn’t have added any pressure.
Anyways, Mohammed Marco is relevant to my story because later in life he became an energetic young man and would spend his days being driven around by members of his extended family, always cheerful and always pumping loud music.
This is how my story of today begins.
I once asked him what music that was and pointed out that it might be hard to find in shops.
In a blink of an eye I had him smiling, he dug in his cousing car and back he was with a cassette, yes a cassette!
I still remember the light blue paper label with arabic writings all over.
I made a CD of it and gave it the title of the only thing I could read on it ”Founone Ali Marate”.
I must have played that CD thousand of times, I loved the change in rhythm but unfortunally I can only describe that music to you as I no longer have the CD. It had a mix of upbeat percussion similat to bongos and tablas and then string instruments that are usually only used in classical music. The singing was melodic and from the throat, it reminded of Napolitan neomelodic and Spanish Gitanos, I used to play ‘Founone and his Ali Marates” in my car and sing to it at the top of my lungs.
Flash forward give or take 20 years and I am travelling through Morocco, visiting lots of markets with colorful carpets and leather shoes everywhere, teapots and silver jewelry, second hand music cassettes…..what? hold on a second, Mohammed family was from Morocco, I can finally find ”Founone”. I could not believe it I still remembered the name after so many years.
I rush into the shop tht was nothing more than a square hole in a wall and I begin to talk in French ….es que vous connez ”founone ali marate” ? The guy in the shop looks at me as if I was retarded, it must have been my French…or his, who knows, I try again and he actually seem to understand, a smile starts to appear on his plum face, he takes a piece of paper and writes down ”Founoune Al Marat”. I was elated, yes yes I begin to be loud, yes ! do you have it? do you have a cassette? he did! he gives me one with a sad looking duo on the cover and he plays it in his stereo…no , not them, the music is totally different , no string instrument and no percussions, just a melody on an electronic piano. How is it possible that old ”founone” went so wrong and started playing ‘this’?
I notice the name on the cover is different though, I ask the guy in the shop, who was still smiling, and he sais ”this is them, of course, Faunone is the cassette maker”
”WHat did you just say” what what what, all this time I had thought, what a disappointment.
I left the shop a little heartbroken and with the sweet thought of the past is in the past.
that very evening I had a thought, what if I had sung to him? oh why didn’t I think of it there? I could have sung of course, I still remember some, mumblings and humming but still, if he had known them he would have recognize the tune.
the morning after I dashed through th market streets to get to the shop but, it was friday and most shops were closed, so was his.
Not only did I misunderstand the name of the group but I made the mistake of not singing to the shopkeeper and now the mistake of going back on his rest day.
I thought I could spend one more day in that town, just for the sake of knowledge but it was time to move on.