"Kâtibim" ("my clerk"), or "Üsküdar'a Gider İken" ("while going to Üsküdar") is a Turkish folk song about someone's clerk (kâtip) as they travel to Üsküdar. The tune is a famous Istanbul türkü, which is spread beyond Turkey in many countries, especially in the Balkans.
Lyrics and score
Recordings by Naftule Brandwein
The melody was imported to North America in the 1920s. The renowned klezmer clarinetist and self-proclaimed “King of Jewish music” Naftule Brandwein recorded a purely instrumental version with the title “Der Terk in America” in 1924. Brandwein was born in Peremyshliany (Polish Galicia, now Ukraine) and emigrated to the USA in 1909 where he had a very successful career in the early 1920s.
Recordings by Safiye Ayla and similar versions
A notable recording is that by Safiye Ayla from 1949. During the time of recording, Ayla was also a member of the assembly at the Istanbul City Conservatory. Classical composer Saygun included 'Variations on the Old Istanbul Folk Song Katibim (Varyasyonlar)' as the last part of his choral Op.22 Bir Tutam Kekik of 1943. Similar compositions of Ayla's "Kâtibim" have followed it, including:
- With lyrics, and incorporating an English adaptation by Stella Lee, in 1953 the song was recorded in the USA as "Uska Dara - A Turkish Tale / Two Lovers" by Eydie Gormé and Eartha Kitt. The interpretation of the internationally known vocal star Eartha Kitt, accompanied by an instrumental set, could be based on that of Safiye Ayla.
- Other modern composers such as Ali Darmar have also arranged the tune.
- A very early publication for the Central European region took place from around 1960 by the second volume of the series of the UNESCO Commission European Songs in the Origins, whose song notation for "Üsküdara gideriken" goes back to a written source from 1952. It shows striking similarities with the version sung by Ayla.
Alongside Ayla, Zeki Müren's recording of Kâtibim was also very popular. Müren appeared as an actor in the 1968 film "Kâtip (Üsküdar'a Giderken)" directed by Sadık Şendil , in which his recording played an important role and which became very popular in Turkey and the Turkish diaspora.
Adaptations from around the world
Many versions of the song can be found in countries neighboring Turkey and beyond, usually with entirely different lyrics. A documentary film entitled Whose is this song? and an international youth project called Everybody's Song documented many of these versions. Here are to name a few:
- Albania: The tune in Albanian is titled "Mu në bashtën tënde", which has some variations by different artists. In 1993, the song was said to be a part of the repertoire in Albania, for example, of the Roma musicians who tried to revive it in the traditional Turkish way.
- Bosnia and Herzegovina: The Bosnian adaptations of the song include a traditional Sevdalinka known as "Pogledaj me Anadolko budi moja ti", meaning "Oh Anatolian girl, be mine" and a Qasida called "Zašto suza u mom oku", meaning "Why are my eyes weeping?".
- Bulgaria: The melody comes in the form of a Bulgarian love song "Cerni oči imaš libe" (Bulgarian: "Черни очи имаш либе") and as a hymn of resistance to the Ottoman Empire in the Strandzha Mountains ("Ясен месец веч изгрява : "Jasen mesec več izgrjava").
- Greece: The Greek version of the song is "Μικρό Τρεχαντηράκι , Ήχασα μαντήλι , Στου Πάπα το μπουγάζι , Ανάμεσα Τσιρίγο , Από ξένο τόπο , Από την Αθήνα ως τον Πειραιά, Ο βαγγελησ : Íchasa mantíli, Apó xéno tópo, Anámesa Tsirígo" which translates to "I wore a scarf, From a foreign place, Between Chirigo (island of Kythēra)". One of the best known Greek interpreters of this song is Glykeria Kotsoula, which is also popular in Israel.
- North Macedonia: A recent performance of the Macedonian version of the song ("Ој Девојче, Девојче") comes from the musician Toše Proeski (Тоше Проески), who was described by the BBC as "Elvis Presley of the Balkans", who also worked as a UNICEF ambassador whose former accident death was mourned with a state funeral and funeral meetings in many places in the Balkans and in the diaspora.
- Romania: There is also a Romanian version of the song called "De ai ști, suflețelul meu" translated as "If you knew, my soul" collected and published by Anton Pann in the 1850s.
- Serbia (Formerly Yugoslavia): Kâtibim in the Serbian version is called "Ruse kose curo imaš" (Serbian:"Ај, русе косе цуро имаш") meaning "Blond hair you have, girl", traditionally sung in southeastern Serbian dialect.During the 1950s, the song has also been featured in the popular Yugoslav film "Ciganka" (Serbian: "Циганка") meaning "Gypsy". There is another version in Serbian titled "Poletela dva bijela goluba" meaning "Two white doves are flying" (recording from 1910)
- Ladino: There is a version of the song in Ladino named "Fel Shara".
- A traditional folk song in the Arab world with the same melody is known as "Ya Banat Iskandaria" (Arabic: "يا بنات اسكندريّة") meaning "Oh Girls of Alexandria". The song was later recorded by Lebanese Mohammed El-Bakkar around 1957 in his album named "Port Said".
- Another Arabic version of the Levantine folklore, mostly sung as part of the Aleppine genre, is "Ghazali Ghazali" (Arabic:"غزالي غزالي") meaning "My Gazelle".
- The melody is shared by طالما أشكو غرامي (talama ashku gharami), a traditional Arabic poem or Qasida for Prophet Muhammad and is similar to the Hebrew piyut Yigdal. It is said to be "deeply moving expression of infatuation, longing and yearning for the Prophet ﷺ".
- There is also another Arabic adaptation by Al Mulla Othman Al Mosuli named Ya Athouli la taloumni (يا عذولي لا تلمني).
- Afghanistan: Another version of the melody is known from Afghanistan , which was sung by Uzbek singer Taaj Mohammad.
- Bangladesh: The Bengali adaptations of this tune known as "Tri-vuboner priyo Muhammad" (Bengali: "ত্রিভুবনের প্রিয় মোহাম্মদ") and "Shukno patar nupur paye" (Bengali: "শুকনো পাতার নূপুর পায়ে") in 1950s were composed by the Bengali poet Kazi Nazrul Islam, who is also considered as the national poet of Bangladesh. It is thought that he learned the melody while he was fighting in the Middle East during World War I. As implied by its name, "Tri-vuboner priyo Muhammad" is also an Islamic Song for Prophet Muhammad.
- Pakistan: A Turkish-Urdu mash-up version titled "Ishq Kinara - Üsküdar'a Gider Iken" was performed on the Pakistani television program Coke Studio by Sumru Ağıryürüyen and Zoe Vicajji in 2013.
- India: In the 1956 Indian film Taj, there is a Hindi-language song titled "Jhoom Jhoom Kar Chali Akeli" by Hemanta Mukherjee, which has similarity with Katibim. In the 2012 Indian film Agent Vinod there is a Hindi-language song titled "I'll Do the Talking"; the song is a partial interpolation of "Rasputin". Kâtibim's original tune is easily guessed in this song.
- Indonesia: This song is used for Banser march.
- Malaysia and Singapore: Alangkah Indah di Waktu Pagi (A Beautiful Morning) in Ali Baba Bujang Lapok is a song originally tuned from "Kâtibim".
- Loreena McKennitt's studio album An Ancient Muse (2006) has a track named "Sacred Shabbat", which has the same tune as Kâtibim.
- Jamaican artist Ken Boothe recorded the song as "Artibella".
- Sami Yusuf's album Barakah (2016) has a track called "I Only Knew Love ('Araftul Hawa)" is also based on a similar tune.
- The third movement of Fazil Say's violin concerto "1001 Nights in the Harem" heavily quotes the tune.
- The melody in Boney M's 1978 Euro disco hit single "Rasputin" has been compared to that of Kâtibim, but the band denied any similarity.
- Nilüfer Göle, The forbidden modern: civilization and veiling, p.60, 1996 "It was even the case that, during the Crimean War, Sultan Abdulmecid asked all his clerks to wear frock coats, which was mentioned later in the well-known "Katibim" song."
- Liner notes for Naftule Brandwein, King of the Klezmer Clarinet, Rounder Records CD 1127, 1997.
- "North America". Archived from the original on December 10, 2015. Retrieved March 26, 2020.CS1 maint: bot: original URL status unknown (link), in: Everybody’s Song – Music as a tool for the promotion of diversity and intercultural understanding, Cyprus Neuroscience and Technology Institute, Nicosia, 2006-2008 (Project), Reinhard Eckert (Contact), Archived from original on December 10, 2015
- "Mediterranean region". Archived from the original on December 10, 2015. Retrieved March 27, 2020.CS1 maint: bot: original URL status unknown (link), in: Everybody’s Song – Music as a tool for the promotion of diversity and intercultural understanding, Cyprus Neuroscience and Technology Institute, Nicosia, 2006-2008 (Project), Reinhard Eckert (Contact), archived from original on December 10, 2015.
- Dorit Klebe (2004): The survival of an Ottoman-Turkish urban love song since an early documentary from 1902. Metamorphoses of a makam. Found in: Marianne Bröcker: The 20th century in the mirror of his songs. Writings of the Bamberg University Library, Volume 12, p85-116.
- Thomas S. Hischak, The Tin Pan Alley Song Encyclopedia (2002), page 382: "'Uska Dara (A Turkish Tale)' (1953) is a spirited novelty number by Stella Lee that is adapted from a Turkish song sometimes titled 'Uskadara.' Although Eydie Gorme introduced the song with a successful record, the piece is most associated with Eartha Kitt, who sang it both in English and Turkish, had a bestselling disc, and kept it in her nightclub act for years. Kitt reprised the number in the movie New Faces (1954)."
- Rough Guide to Turkey, p.1043, Rosie Ayliffe, Marc Dubin, John Gawthrop - 2003 " Safiye Ayla's rendition of the famous Istanbul türkü "Katibim" (covered bizarrely by Eartha Kitt)"
- Directed by Adela Peeva, Bulgaria, 2003. http://adelamedia.net/movies/whose-is-this-song.php
- Everybody's Song web site, 2008
- "South Eastern Europe". Archived from the original on December 10, 2015. Retrieved March 26, 2020.CS1 maint: bot: original URL status unknown (link), in: Everybody’s Song – Music as a tool for the promotion of diversity and intercultural understanding, Cyprus Neuroscience and Technology Institute, Nicosia, 2006-2008 (Project), Reinhard Eckert (Contact), archived from original on December 10, 2015.
- "Whose is this song?". Poemas del río Wang. Retrieved 2020-03-26.
- Tesha Teshanovic (2010-05-17), Mohammed El-Bakkar - Banat Iskandaria, retrieved 2018-03-09
- Assaaleek Band (2017-08-18), Assaaleek - Ghazali Ghazali
- "Talama Ashku Gharami". Muslim Hymns. 2017-05-09. Retrieved 2020-03-26.
- "Central Asia". Archived from the original on December 10, 2015. Retrieved March 26, 2020.CS1 maint: bot: original URL status unknown (link), in: Everybody’s Song – Music as a tool for the promotion of diversity and intercultural understanding, Cyprus Neuroscience and Technology Institute, Nicosia, 2006-2008 (Projekt), Reinhard Eckert (Contact), archived from the original on December 10, 2015.
- Khan, Mamunur Rahman. "ত্রিভুবনের প্রিয় মোহাম্মদ এলো রে দুনিয়ায়". nazrulgeeti.org. Retrieved 2016-09-22.
- banglaislamigaan (2011-02-27), Tri-vuboner prio Muhammad. naat-e-rasul nat islami gajal nazrul songit bangla islami gaan, retrieved 2016-09-22
- Khan, Mamunur Rahman. "শুকনো পাতার নূপুর পায়ে". nazrulgeeti.org. Retrieved 2016-09-22.
- Nazrul. "শুক্নো পাতার নুপুর পায়ে - বাংলায় গানের কথা | Bangla Song Lyrics" [Nupur leaf nupur feet - song lyrics in Bengali | Bangla Song Lyrics]. banglasonglyric.com. Retrieved 2016-09-22.
- swe1281 (2008-11-14). "Nazrul Song - Shukno Patar Nupur". Retrieved 2016-09-22.
- Hyatt, Rohail. "Ishq Kinara - Üsküdar'a Gider Iken. Sumru Ağıryürüyen, Zoe Vicajji ", Published on 21 December 2013. Retrieved on 20 August 2015.
- "Pritam buys Boney M's Rasputin's rights". The Times of India. 3 February 2012. Retrieved 6 February 2012.
- The initial printing of the liner notes in 2006 erroneously attributed the song (instead of the arrangement) to Loreena McKennitt, but this was corrected subsequently: see Quinlan Road discussion forum.
- "1001 Nights in the Harem - NaxosDirect". naxosdirect.se. Retrieved 2020-03-25.
- Plastino, Goffredo (2003). Mediterranean Mosaic: Popular Music and Global Sounds. Psychology Press. p. 217. ISBN 978-0-415-93656-9.
- Plastino, Goffredo (2013-07-04). Mediterranean Mosaic: Popular Music and Global Sounds. From "About this book": "First published in 2003. Routledge is an imprint of Taylor & Francis, an informa company.". Routledge. p. 164. ISBN 978-1-136-70776-6.
“Rasputine” by Boney M was hotly debated in the 1970s due to its similarity to the “Katibim,” a traditional Istanbul tune, but this similarity was denied by the band.
- YouTube - Ishq Kinara - Üsküdar'a Gider Iken
- YouTube - Nazrul Song - Tri-vuboner prio Muhammad. Naat-e-rasul bangla
- YouTube - Nazrul Song - Shukno Patar Nupur paye
- YouTube - Jhoom Jhoom Kar Chali Akeli by Hemanta Mukherjee
- YouTube - Γλυκερία - Από ξένο τόπο | Glykeria - Apo kseno topo - Official Audio Release
- YouTube - Boney M. - Rasputin
- Violeta Tomovska - Oj devojce (ti tetovsko jabolce)
- Dön Bak Aynaya
- Ο ΒΑΓΓΕΛΗΣ, 1928, ΑΓΓΕΛΙΚΗ ΚΑΡΑΓΙΑΝΝΗ