Everyone loves to listen to music. Whether you use it to jump around and dance or as an escape mechanism to teleport you another place in time – it’s a pleasure no matter the reason. Nowadays you can instantly go online and download from an unlimited supply of music, but it wasn’t always as easy as it is today.
First there was vinyl, then came cassettes, and it eventually evolved to CDs. With the arrival of the cassette, we were finally able to take our music on the go. The Sony Walkman made that possible – but can you imagine walking around with a bag full of cassettes instead of just one simple iPod? We’ve come a long way in the music field, which is why it was a complete surprise when we passed by an open, functioning cassette store in Hamra.
We knew that for a shop like this to be open in today’s music climate it really had to be special. Curiosity always kills the cat but that’s never stopped us before. We walked in cameras ready to unlock the story behind Deep Music Cassette shop.
When we walked in we were instantly greeted with a woman with a smile that matched her welcoming eyes. We introduced ourselves, as did she. Sabah Batal, the current owner of the Deep Music Cassette shop in Hamra has been running her small music dynasty with her husband since 1991. You’d be forgiven if you’d never noticed the shop; it’s a tiny little room with cassettes and CD’s stacked from top to bottom in all corners of the store. You don’t see a wall but rather a collection of various artists that make up a wall and yes – believe it or not one of Justin Bieber’s CD’s was spotted in the corner of our eye. Simmer down Justin haters; the shop consists of classics such as Fayrouz, and Um Kulthum as well as many other different iconic artists from years gone by. When Sabah told us they’ve been here since 1991 she explained her and her late husband’s love of music didn’t start there. Before they opened their store in Hamra they we’re selling cassettes out of a station wagon in Souk El Raouche for many years. She smiled and said, “Those were the glory days, the days where people would travel for miles and save for days to be able to buy one cassette.” But that world is decades gone, in today’s world the need for cassettes and CDs are slim to none – so why would she choose to stay open? She smirked and said, “I love it. I love it because my husband and I lived through this musical era. We lived through the cassette golden ages and it’s something that is so close to my heart.” She loves her job so much that if she doesn’t come to the store for some reason she feels like something is missing in her life. She then narrowed her eyes and said, “Don’t get me wrong, I’m not in business to solely sell cassettes and CD’s, I’m in it to help people as much as I can.” She explained to us that the little fact that we were there talking to her, especially about music, was enough to make her heart skip a 100 beats. She loves the company that walks in and what she loves to do even more is give advice to those seeking it.
From one music fanatic to another we were dying to know, out of all the artists on the wall who was her favorite? Without hesitation, she said Fayrouz. She expressed, “Fayrouz was one of the main reasons my husband and I opened this store, the love for her music was indescribable. Her lyrics and her lyrical meaning is beyond explanation.” Sabah explained that her husband would follow Fayrouz from show to show just to be captivated by her songs. Even when she was performing at a church he would go sit in the last row and listen to her voice. With such a strong number 1 spot we wondered if there was a number 2 spot open and without a doubt there was. Um Kulthum holds a strong number two spot because she expresses a time of real romance in her music, an aspect of life Sabah thinks is lacking in today’s generation.
In store with so much music history, we knew people that there must have been a few famous faces that stopped by for a few cassettes back in the day and we were right. Artists such as Fulla, and Soumaya Baalbaki have stopped by several times. With Sabah holding onto a legacy with her husband we wanted to know if any of her 3 kids have plans to take over. She explained that each one of her children has their own thing going on but if she ever needed help they are the first ones by her side.
Deep Music Cassette is located on Baalbak Street, Hamra.