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Mohsen Namjoo - A man who has redefined Iranian Music and taken it to the 21st century


By Syma Sayyah, Tehran -- There are times in one's life when we think that nothing new will happen, at least in some ways.  So it was an absolutely wonderful and delightful pleasure when I recently came to love, appreciate and feel a young artist.  In my opinion, he is the most important thing that has happened to the Iranian music scene in a very long time.  His blend of traditional Iranian music and words, along with rock and blues, challenges his listeners as well as taking them to a higher level of doubt, joy, pain, beauty and essence of life and existence, past and present, while all along retaining our Iranian heritage and feelings.  He has revolutionized Iranian traditional music and with his art and talent has taken it, with a few giant leaps, into the 21st century.



Listening to him, for the first time in my life I found I could understand Hafez verses and feel and absorb their meaning, never before did I feel the poetry of Hafez and Molana so visibly and beautifully.  The way he utters the words of his songs, almost making a dance with his wonderful voice, up and down while playing his guitar or tar.  What I adore about his music is his daring to break away with and from tradition, yet using tradition itself, but with a new vigor and meaning to and for our modern times.  I never had the taste for traditional Persian music; I found it rather too mournful and out of my time and taste at least, with a few exceptions.  I find Namjoo's voice as deep as Dariush and Farhad and as warm and passionate as that of Haydeh and Shahidi, many songs remembered from Golhaye rangarang (colorful flowers) an Iranian Radio program in the old days.  (Does anyone remember that program?)


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This new phenomenon and wonderful talented artist who has captured my musical heart is Mohsen Namjoo, whom I have come to know through a gift from one of my godsons Pooya, who presented me on my birthday with several collections of Iranian modern music, so I could become IN with the Tehran music scene.  He gave me a CD with a collection of his choice from Mohsen Namjoo.  My life changed overnight (musically at least).  I could not stop listening to his lyrics, hearing his pain, finding his hope for joy and happiness, laughing with him at life, and appreciating his great sense of humor and cynicism, what a joy!



I had heard some of his earlier works  in his first CD 'Damavand' which was less original, therefore  nothing had prepared me for the deep emotion that the modern-sensitive-mixture works of his more recent music brought back inside of me; a fire was lit!  I listened to his many songs including his well known Eykash, Gis and Toraj songs; some of them use western musical elements, piano, guitar, jazz etc. but his singing was as eastern and as passionate as anything I could remember.  Throughout the night, like my younger days, we played these different songs over and over again and enjoyed some shiraz and sang along and cried.  Well, I did most of the crying to Paul's amazement even though I was not sad, it was simply the deep emotion that emerged from his singing and his music that brought what I seldom find - a combination that brings together the eastern side and the western side together in perfect harmony and creates new wonderful music.  The pain, the suffering, the alienation and yet the affection, the care and concern along with the thoughtfulness and determination to not give in or give up and carry on and to move on in the hope that one day it will all come out and we shall sing and dance to this and others in the open.



His music and his magical voice took me back to my university days when I first became familiar with such great names as Leonard Cohen, Cat Stevens, Janis Joplin, Joe Cocker, John Lennon, and many others.  I just hope that you can find and listen to his uncut works wherever you are.  His music and his singing are very modern and to me a true and real combination of great Persian sense and modernity, even my husband is murmuring his lyrics these days.  Mohsen Namjoo is a true artist with many different and diverse talents.



I would like to add that he is just one of many young phenomena happening in the Iranian art scene.  What is happening in Iran these days reminds me of New York in the mid 1960's with so many young talented people around and a greatness of noavari (innovative) works in many fields, art, music, film and - wow!! - It is great to be around and see these flowers blossoming!


Finally, with the kindness of some friends, Ayzim, Nader and Abolfazel, I had the pleasure of meeting this great artist a few days ago and we took some photos that we share with you.  For more information, and to hear samples of his music please check his website:




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