Talking about the Goldfinch of Algiers is poetry, involving the Algerian songwriter El Badji; when you listen to him, you sip each word like a drop of nectar, then you
feel the warmth deeper in your heart. A longing for some place and an epoch at reach of hands emerges your feelings. Then your memory drifts away, to a review of the Old Masters of the Chaabi repertoire, you get the Algerian blues, where every singer had compiled a song to cherish the Mackneen chirping in his own way. To their way of life of those people, to their savoir-faire, mingled with a chock full of simplicity and tenderness, you wonder then, when they came to live, like and love with finesse, from a chimeric love desire for a woman raised to the point of a muse, to a caged bird that inspired the need for freedom_El Badji was in prison then, where he wrote the El Mackkneen lyrics’ song.
I had seen so many of them, those whom had left the cage of their bird opened, after years of having them caged, some of the birds gone, and some returned to its cage after a while, to visit the master perhaps, who didn’t worry too much for their absence, but happy to hear them singing again…like uncle former Ammi Hocein, a master in marble-carving, and some others anonymous aficionados of the goldfinch breeding, like my brother who got so familiar since childhood with the pets and domestic livestock, hens, rabbits and the like, to a point they adopt him as a member of the herd, kind of as a mother feeder. For instance, a story that comes to my mind; he used to let the door of the cage opened during the cleaning and tending of his pet, once the bird drifted away, and flew to a near tree limb, and from there to the crest of a pine tree. My brother, when he sensed his absence, he only gave a brief whistle, and the bird came back and landed in his hand.
Lately, you could see most of the young people carrying with them a caged pet proudly, as the teens of the bombastic radio cassette of the disco era did.
The heck is,that the mercantile, and savage business called “Trabando” running in background took over, so that everybody became a bird breeder, all of sudden, discovering the new hobby of the moment; to fulfill the demand it became a source of profit. The Trabando is a stressed Spanish word: an illegal form of trade, and was permitted in a way to absorb the joblessness of people during the tragedy of the black decade.
That is, and without over do, and “sticking to the man”, let us stay it with poetry; “Lehmem, El Makneen, Ana toueri, and much more, those song titles evoke the golden era of the Chaabi, the Algerian Blues, so happy listening, and have a good time with its masters.