In the fall of 2004, I was teaching English to pre-teens and teenagers at Amideast in Damascus, Syria. One day, one of my students (an accomplished musician, at the tender age of 15ish) brought his guitar to class. In exchange for allowing him to leave early to attend a rehearsal, I had him play us a few songs. The other students and I gathered around to listen.
One of the songs he played was The Eagles' "Hotel California." I could not believe my ears when I heard that song, sitting there in an apartment converted into a school in the center of Damascus. After a while, he started singing along to his own playing - who even knows all the words that song?? Well, this student of mine did. And at the chorus, the whole class - all these Syrian teenagers - joined in. It was a watershed moment for me - the moment when Syria was no longer Other.
Well, in early 2005, Jeremy came to visit my class and we recorded this same student playing "Hotel California" (he doesn't sing in this version). Enjoy.