August 30, 2017


There’s a scene in the movie Baby Driver when Baby and Debora are sitting in the diner, talking about hearing their names in songs.

It is a touching scene, one where their relationship (a flimsy one, in retrospect) takes root, bonding over the idea that music can define you in ways you may never have realized.

Growing up, I knew I would never hear my name in the music that I love to listen to; I knew, even then, that my name was not something I’d get to sing along to, as it would never appear in a lyric, despite its ease of rhyme. This, I thought, was the peril of having an Arabic name in an English world—I came to peace with this realization very young.

My wife’s name is not one you hear often in song, either. It appears very rarely in rare, obscure French music, but when we were courting, there were no songs bearing her name that I could sing to her before we went to sleep.

We may not hear our names in song, but when we speak each others’ names, we speak them in unconscious melody. Hearing my name spoken in her voice is sweet music, the best poetry. When your name is spoken in love, there is no need to hear it sung on the radio.

For this quarter’s edition of The Mixtape Concern, Names, I’ve made a playlist that is made up of, well, names—names of my first friends I made when I moved to Canada.

→ Mixtape