I was listening to some Turkish music today and recalled a lovely snippet of memories from my week in Turkey some years ago. I had wandered into a little village music store, and the young man in charge tried to interest me in the usual tourist range of CDs, Turkish pop music, and so on. Not in the least tempted, and not overly optimistic either, I said that I would like to hear something old, maybe something classical, maybe folky, something that evoked the old Turkey. Not an easy conversation to have, with neither of us possessing many words of each other's language, but he got it.
And he demonstrated this very surprisingly, by singing me an old folk song, to test whether or not this was the sort of music I would like.
And what a touching gesture! He stood very straight, looking directly at me, and without a shred of self-consciousness, sang beautifully, just for me. I found it hard not to fill up with tears, both at the song he sang and the loveliness of the gesture. Then he rummaged at the back of the shop, and brought out a boxed CD, making me understand that this had no words, just instruments, and that some of the music was very old. There was no pressure to buy; he seemed delighted that I had been interested and appreciative. After trying some of the tracks, I bought the CD for the usual astonishingly low price, and have played it many times since. The music it contains is very foreign indeed, and utterly beguiling; to my untrained ear it has no discernible links to Western music, and on hot sunny days like today, it's exactly right. And thanks to a lovely, open, Turkish boy in a tiny shop, it has to be the one of my best shopping experiences. HMV? No contest.