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"My Grade-School Friend"

by SAYA OVAISY

17 Nov 2009 18:0611 Comments

[ art house ] Revolutionary anthems hardly come any more powerful than Yare Dabestani Man, or "My Grade-School Friend," Iran's resistance anthem par excellence.

The revolution-era classic, whose stirring lyrics epitomize the country's longstanding struggle for freedom, was originally composed by filmmaker Mansour Tehrani for his 1980 political drama "From Cry to Terror." In the film, three old friends cross paths after fifteen years. Hossein has become a drug addict; Davoud is the chauffeur of the head of the martial court; and Reza belongs to an underground armed resistance group. Reza is tasked with assassinating the martial court chief, but is killed by a stray bullet. Davoud is wounded, but manages to escape. And Hossein ends up dying from an overdose. The original version was performed for the movie soundtrack by renowned Shah-era crooner Fereydoon Foroughi (video above).

The song enjoyed a revival during Mohammad Khatami's presidency, whose election in 1997 marked the birth of the Reform movement. For many Yare Dabestani has become associated with the post-revolutionary generation and the bloody student uprisings of 1999.

After the 2009 elections, Yare Dabestani once more surged to the forefront of public protests, and has been passionately sung by demonstrators on the streets, at expatriate rallies outside of Iran, by student protesters at universities, and recently, even by students at a high school.

The anthem is somewhat akin to Joan Baez's "We Shall Overcome" in the American civil rights movement. In the throes of the current political deadlock, it is on the tongue of every Iranian opposition supporter.

My grade-school friend,

You're with me at my side

A ruler [wielded] above our heads -

You weep and sigh with me

Engraved on this blackboard

Are your name and mine

Tyranny's welt on our flesh

Has not faded with time

The fields of our culture

Have grown wild with neglect,

Come the good or the bad -

People's hearts are now dead

My hand and yours

Must tear down this curtain

Who but you and I

Has power to cure our pain?

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11 Comments

I actually listened to Yare Dabestani Man before leaving the house to vote in the June election.

It's kind of a downer song, especially compared to the far more passive We Shall Overcome, which the author compares it to.

I prefer Ey Iran. Ey Iran should actually be the anthem. Even the old royal and official IRI anthem can't compare to Ey Iran.

Pirouz / November 17, 2009 11:50 PM

No other song brings out the soul of Iranians more than Yare Dabestani Man, I cried the first time I've heard it. I think it brings out the soul reason of the green movement. The soul reason of why there is a need for reform and change in a country that has been struggling for the dignity of it's people in more than 200 years by sacrificing it's own children.
Beside it encourages the nation to say enough is enough. While the song provides courage it justifies people's upraising against Tyranny.
Thank you Tehran Bureau for this article, I am grateful for learning about the origin of "Yare Dabestani Man"

gheseh2000 / November 18, 2009 1:28 AM

Pirouz, I've been telling EVERYONE that "ey iran" should be our anthem ever since I heard it in grade 1 or 2. Glad someone out there agrees!

Pedestrian / November 18, 2009 2:53 AM

are Pirooz and Pedestrian one and the same, or just twin minds ...? soulmates, always in perfect accord!

farivar / November 18, 2009 10:24 AM

YAR DABSTANY june 09/ khordad 88:

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=NcvEIuLVEbI

Parrissa Y. / November 18, 2009 10:33 AM

My grade-school mate, you’re by my side and with me
When the wicker is wielded above our head, you cry and moan with me
Carved on this blackboard are the names of you and me
The lash of oppression and injustice has left its mark on you and me

Our uncultured forsaken fields are full of weed
Good may it be, bad may it be, Our people’s hearts do not beat
The curtains must be torn down by the hands of you and me
Who can heal our suffering, other than you and me!!!

My grade-school mate, you’re by my side and with me
When the wicker is wielded above our head, you cry and moan with me
Carved on this blackboard are the names of you and me
The lash of oppression and injustice has left its mark on you and me

Iman / November 18, 2009 11:33 AM

"ey iran" is a "sorud-e melli" (national anthem). this is a resistance song. two different things.

amir / November 18, 2009 11:46 PM

Both are them most influencive anthem in these days.

Faraz Amiralaei / November 20, 2009 7:42 AM

my dear old friend
you’re with me and on my path

the wooden baton above our heads
you are the lump in my throat, the ahhhh in my voice

my name and yours has been carved on this board of black
on our bodies remain the scars of oppression and injustice

on the field of our culture, the grass is now all weeds
good or bad, bad or good, dead are the people's hearts

your hand and mine must tear these curtains down,
for if not you or I, who else will heal our pain

Anonymous / November 22, 2009 4:24 AM

vc

Anonymous / January 31, 2010 2:31 AM

the green movement remake is impressive and affective

naqi akbar / November 15, 2010 3:43 PM