Category Archives: Entertainment

Wonderlust King


Greetings from the future!… Or actually, I suppose it would be the past. I always feel weird scheduling posts, especially when it comes to music. These Friday Refrains are supposed to reflect how the past week has been treating me, so it is a little hard to foresee what they should be.

“Wonderlust King” just seems fitting, though. By the time this gets posted I should be on my way from Turkey’s southern Mediterranean coasts to Sarajevo, Bosnia. From here I’ll wind my way through Eastern Europe, before finally returning to Newark via Istanbul. It will be a wild ride, for sure.

So, because of that, Gogol Bordello!

The Bird Watcher and Going Incognito


Today marks my last full day in Malatya. Saying goodbyes are never easy, especially when there is a high probability – if we are speaking honestly – that I may never see again the people who have meant so much to me for the past year. Of course, with all the downsides of social media, at least there is the comfort that I have the capability to stay connected with them all.

Leaving Malatya has another added difficulty; this marks the first time in my life in which I have no definitive future ahead of me. Up until this point everything was laid out for me, and happily flowed into each other – not so anymore.

So, on leaving Malatya with a heavy heart, a brain full of uncertainty, and a soul full of excitement for what the future holds I present “The Bird Watcher.” It captures perfectly exactly what is happening as I write this… Except for the whale. That doesn’t quite fit.

I may also be incognito for the next month or so. Starting tomorrow morning, I am embarking on a month of traveling before finally reaching home, so posts will be varied at best.

Hope you are all enjoying the start of your summer!



There are few things in the world I would say I fawn over – even less when music and musicians are taken into account. I can say with absolute certainty, though, that Bonobo, real name Simon Green, is one of those rare musicians that not only do I love, but that I must also share with everyone. People speak of artists that manage to change their lives and I always wrote it off mere exaggeration. Now, though, I do realize funnily enough that Bonobo has had an actual impact on my life.

Continue reading Bonobo

Türk Marşı (Turkish March)


Before class one of my students showed me this song; I was blown away. I love when rap uses  nontraditional beats, so the inclusion of Mozart’s Turkish March was perfect. The music video was great too, showing the diversity of Turkey – it starts out in Istanbul, and ends in Mardin in the South East, not all too far away from dear old Malatya. Really, I’m just blown away by the speed at which Ceza can speak – the only other rapper I can think of who can go that fast is Gift of Gab.

Continue reading Türk Marşı (Turkish March)

Peynir Gemisi


Although I’m not really that big a fan of the sea – read sea sickness – I do love sea shanty sounding music, however. For precisely that reason I used to find myself listening to The Decemberists or Modest Mouse over and over – those bands just somehow managed to give a sense of adventure. Now, I can add Yolda, who you might remember from their song ‘Sonbahar,’  due to the awesomeness of the song ‘Peynir Gemisi,’ which translates into ‘Cheese Ship.’

Anyway, the entire song is high energy and seemingly silly. I.E. great music for all occasions. The lyrics mean, roughly:

They said: how many people were you, how many people stayed until today?
I told him: We were plenty, three people stayed until the end.
They said:  If you were a young man how many people did you beat so far?
I told him: Three people, we took a lot of beatings until we died
They said: In that case you could not be a man until today
I agreed, until today I confusedly wandered and stopped
But without a storm the waves cannot grow
My cheese boat cannot walk with empty words
The Turkish lyrics are as follows:

Dediler ki, kaç kişiydin, kaç kişi kaldın bugüne kadar?
Dedim ona, çok kişiydik, üç kişi kaldık sonuna kadar.
Dediler ki, delikanlıysan kaç kişi dövdün bugüne kadar?
Dedim ona, üç kişiydi, çok sopa yedik ölene kadar.
Dediler ki, madem öyle adam olamadın bugüne kadar,
Dedim öyle, kafam karışık gezdim durdum bugüne kadar.
Ama fırtına olmadan dalgalar büyümez ki,
Peynir gemim benim boş laflarla yürümez ki.

Olmasa Da Olur


Ever since I told one of my students that I really enjoyed Ah Be Kardeşim by Yalın, she insists on playing his new single – Olmasa Da Olur – during every break time; not that I really mind. The song is catchy enough and works as good background music, along it doesn’t have the same oomph that Ah Be Kardeşim had. One of the best things about the song is definitely the music video – the views of Istanbul it gives, along with the Rumeli Hisar, the old fortress along the Bosphorous, is wonderful. Anyway, I hope you enjoy the song. As always, here is a working translation: Continue reading Olmasa Da Olur

GKEN-E’s Positive Beats


It was almost exactly a year ago to the day that GKEN-E found me. It was a rough time – approaching the end of my senior year of college without any concrete plans – and I was thoroughly stressed; I spent a good amount of my free time listening to trip-hop, especially Bonobo. As I mentioned a long time ago, no other type of music styling can ever make me feel as free as the dreamy beats and sounds of trip-hop can.

So, I was both pleasantly surprised and shocked when, after posting a tweet about Bonobo, a random new musician began following me on both Twitter and Instagram. Usually I don’t pay much attention to amateur musicians, as they generally are only interested in getting ‘follow-backs’ and building their own base. GKEN-E seemed different; first of all, he was offering giving away all his music for free at his Bandcamp website. As of now, his music is still available for anywhere between free and five dollars – definitely a great value!

Often times, trip-hop can seem almost melancholically beautiful. Being stitched together from different samples, or created electronic sounds, along a single rhythm, trip-hop seems almost to embrace and circle around the notion of quietness – even though it is generally composed of multiple layers on top of each other. I suppose the general down-tempo nature of trip-hop could explain this reaction to the music.

GKEN-E’s version of the genre is different. While working within the loop and beat framework of trip-hop, GKEN-E added something that was generally absent – the notion of ‘positive beats.’ All throughout his works are the ideas of positivity and energetic beats, lending an uptempo sound to a genre that was generally more about chillness; although, to say that GKEN-E isn’t chill would be a disservice. His music, like all trip-hop, is still fantastic to put on and daydream to.

GKEN-E’s music does not fail to engage the listener. Like all great composers within this genre, he makes his music accessible yet interesting – the sounds continue to change, as he further orchestrates and has the sound build upon upon itself. The music never becomes too heavy or bogged down, however, and allows your mind to wander freely – as if floating peacefully through clouds of positive beats.



You can’t escape Tarkan in Turkey, even if you don’t consciously hear his music it is there, ubiquitous. When I first came to Turkey almost two years ago, I wanted to have nothing to do with him due to my (now quickly fading) vendetta against pop music. There is something amazing about Tarkan that just sucks you in, though – maybe it is his close to twenty years of success here, maybe it’s the way he just constantly changes his style and sound, or maybe it is just that his music is entertaining. Whatever the case, Tarkan is almost universally loved in Turkey, despite his dislike of interviews, pervasive rumors that he is gay, and the fact that he lives in New York City.

Continue reading Acımayacak

Aklım Nerede


This song, a cover of the Pixies ‘Where’s My Mind?’ by the group Biz might be one of my favorite covers of all time. Musically it is essentially the same as the original, but the Turkish lyrics are completely original and are, in my opinion, much better. The lyrics are saying:

Your heart is single but your head is a pair
Is everything still like you left it?
They’re still walking with you in your minds
Where’s my mind? Where’s my mind? Where’s my mind?
I lost it and no one has picked it up from where it fell
The area is wide but time is tight
It’s surpressing from every side
From above, from below
Did we stop existing again while kissing?
But what do you think?
Where’s my mind? Where’s my mind? Where’s my mind?
I lost it and no one has picked it up from where it fell
Your heart is single but your head is dual
Is everything still as you left it?
In your minds they are walking without you
Where’s my mind? Where’s my mind? Where’s my mind?
I lost it and no one has picked it up from where it fell
And, as always, here are the original Turkish lyrics for anyone interested:

Kalbin tek ama kafan çift
Bıraktığın gibi mi her şey hala
Aklındakiler seninle birlikte yürürler
Aklım nerede aklım nerede aklım nerede
Kaybettim onu kimse almadı düştüğü yerden
Alan geniş ama zaman dar
Bastırıyor her yandan
Yukarıdan aşağıdan
Öpüşürken yeniden varolmadık mı
Sence de ama
Aklım nerede aklım nerede aklım nerede
Kaybettim onu kimse almadı düştüğü yerden
Kalbin tek ama kafan çift
Bıraktığın gibi mi her şey hala
Aklındakiler sen olmadan da yürürler
Aklım nerede aklım nerede aklım nerede
Kaybettim onu kimse almadı düştüğü yerden
And here is the original Pixies version of the song.

Sonbahar by Yolda


As a way to combine both practicing my Turkish and continuing the tradition of Friday Refrain (never willing to give this up), I’m going to start throwing Turkish songs into the mix. I’ll do my best to try to translate the song lyrics too so everyone can enjoy. Danielle first showed me this song about two months ago, and I haven’t been able to stop listening to Yolda since then. I love their ephemeral folkishness – it’s exactly the type of music I listen to in English too.

Anyway, the song is roughly saying:

Autumn (sonbahar) touched your hairs
A little remained, from which the roads diverge,
The roads are coming to a halt before me
The roads, they’re taking you from me
You should also go towards there yourself
If there is a laughing sun inside, you’re passing it
You are mixing with the sea
You are returning to your heart
If it doesn’t make complete sense… poetry? Anyway, if you enjoyed the song you can download both of Yolda’s albums for free from their website.

Also, here are the Turkish lyrics too for those who might be interested:

sonbahar değdi saçlarına
az kaldı, birazdan ayrılır yollar
yollar, önümde dururlar
yollar, seni benden alırlar
nereye gitsen de kendinsin
içinde varsa güneş güler geçersin
sen de, karışırsın denize
sen de, dönersin kalbine