Morning in Hyattsville

Photo of Rahim AlHaj playing the oud courtesy of

An Iraq-born folk musician wrote a song once while staying in Hyattsville.

Rahim AlHaj studied music at a conservatory in Baghdad in the late 1980s, learning composition as well as oud-playing. After the first Gulf War, he was forced to leave the country because of his activism against Saddam Hussein. He eventually settled in New Mexico and became a U.S. citizen.

The Hyattsville song is included on his 2010 album, “Little Earth.” Here’s an account of its origins from the March 25, 2010, edition of the Weekly Alibi, an alternative newspaper in Albuquerque:

Called “Morning in Hyattsville,” that song got its start early one morning in a Maryland friend’s backyard as a call and response between AlHaj on his oud and a mockingbird hidden in the trees.

Also performing on the song are noted jazz guitarist Bill Frisell and Eyvind Kang on the viola. A review in No Depression magazine called the song “mesmerizing.”

Given the song and the Baghdad connection he shares with Busboys and Poets owner Andy Shallal, AlHaj seems like a great choice for a booking in Hyattsville.

You can listen to a snippet of the song on iTunes here.

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