Mood: Revolution is a lot of things, but in this song, we hear the joy of it, the groove within a movement.
In the Musical: Fadwa sings this in the first scene of We Live in Cairo. She is an unapologetic revolutionary, always has been, always will be, and believes deep down we all are.
Favorite Lyric: “Join the creators who made a bold choice / Coloring the bricks that their father laid / reading from the books their fathers forbade.” The generations! How we use what our fathers have built before us, how we defy them for the sake of our future!
Featured Artist(s): Mohamed Araki and his friend from Cairo —who, for safety concerns, is going by “Haboya” —gives us this infectious, Sudanese-inspired interpretation. is a Boston-based, internationally-touring keyboardist and producer and the first Sudanese musician to be nominated for a Grammy. Mo saw Mohamed We Live in Cairo at the American Repertory Theater as protests were starting in Sudan in 2019, and we had many long conversations about the ties between what was going on for him back home and the show. And also, just listen to him . rock
Recording Locations: Cairo, Boston, Washington D.C., NYC
6. Flap My Wings (featuring animation by Ganzeer) Mood: Restrained, furious, sung with gritted teeth
In the Musical: This song comes when the six activists learn about the killing of an Egyptian student, Khaled Said, at the hands of the police. It explores the ways the deep state manipulates, corrupts and makes injustice status quo—and how we have, totally and completely within ourselves, the tools to change that.
Favorite Lyric: There’s one verse that I think distills the hypocrisy of autocratic governments: “Their rooms are filled with men/ who tell them yes and ask them questions on the cost of roads / and just how much is left / for the function celebrating thirty years of this / they rent a tent to celebrate and then they celebrate / as they meditate on all the ways to tell the truth while drinking cups of tea / no whiskey for them / well maybe some / maybe some though it’s haram.”
Featured Artist(s): Daniel and I sing the vocals on this one, but our friend and close collaborator , along with incredible animator Paul MacLachlan, made a stunning music video for the song. You can watch it Ganzeer . here
Recording Locations: NYC, Boston
7. Living Here (featuring Emel) Mood: Heart wrenching, life-affirming, honest, then overwhelming, powerful, rousing.
In the Musical: Layla’s love Amir has been killed in a protest, and Amir’s brother is in jail. Layla visits Hany at a moment of intense doubt—is revolution even worth it? How far can one go, how much can one lose for the love of their country? She can’t go on, she can’t go on… then she sings “Living Here” and realizes: she must go on.
Favorite Lyric: “I fold my clothes / the way my mother does.”
Featured Artist(s): Emel Mathlouthi, known as Emel, is a Tunisian singer-songwriter, activist, and icon. Emel is best known for her (“My Word is Free”), which became an anthem for the protest song Kelmti Horra and the Arab Spring. In our writing of Tunisian revolution We Live in Cairo, we became obsessed with Emel’s Kelmti Horra and it actually influenced the tone of Living Here! It’s wild to us that Emel is interpreting a song that she directly inspired. Some other Emel songs you must listen to: and Holm . Ma Lkit
Recording Locations: Paris, NYC, Boston
8. Each & Every Name (featuring Naseem Alatrash) Mood: Elegiac
In the Musical: Fadwa, the most outspoken activist of the group, sings about the martyrs of the revolution and the responsibility we have to honor them.
Featured Artist(s): This song has been interpreted by the Palestinian cellist Naseem Alatrash as an instrumental piece—an ode to all martyrs who give depth and meaning to all movements. Hear more of Naseem’s aching, expressive playing here, with . Lifta
Recording Location: Washington D.C.
Cast of We Live in Cairo in rehearsal
9. The 18 Days: In The Morning 10. The 18 Days: A Million People 11. The 18 Days: Our Square Mood: This one is so much: it’s uncontrolled, it’s larger than life, it’s power ballad, it’s chants, it’s hollers and found recording, it’s experimental, it’s expressionistic, it’s rousing with crazy hand percussion and kinetic string lines.
In the Musical: This comes at the end of Act 1 of We Live in Cairo. It is a devised music and movement-based journey through the 18 days of protests in Tahrir Square, January 25–February 11, 2011.
Favorite Lyric: At the end of the song, Layla sings a line that’s rather simple, but I think packs quite a bit of punch, especially how it’s set musically: “I’m one person of one million / every person is one.”
Featured Artist(s): Music supervisor was the mastermind behind these tracks. Her arrangement creates a sound world that takes listeners through the major moments in Tahrir Square. The A.R.T. cast—Sharif Afifi, Abubakr Ali, Jakeim Hart, Dana Saleh Omar, Gil Perez-Abraham, Parisa Shahmir and Layan Elwazani—are the featured vocalists. They give us the same fire and electricity they brought to the stage every night in Cambridge. Madeline Smith
Recording Locations: NYC, Mexico City, Boston, Washington D.C., Various
12. Tahrir is Now (featuring Ramy Essam) Mood: Rousing, the moment
In the Musical: Dictator Hosni Mubarak still hasn’t stepped down. Our characters are exhausted, depleted, then Amir decides to sing the song he’s been working on throughout Act 1.
Favorite Lyric: Ramy contributes an entirely original verse in Arabic. You just have to hear it. No one can beat Ramy’s voice, its strength. The thing is gorgeous.
Featured Artist(s): Videos of Ramy Essam singing for hundreds of thousands of people in Tahrir Square was our first access point to the Egyptian Revolution back before we even wrote a word of We Live in Cairo. Now, Ramy, the Singer of the Revolution, is interpreting Tahrir Is Now. I wish I could accurately convey how major this was for us, to have the man whose story fueled every draft of this show sing its score. is a video of Ramy singing for the people in Tahrir Square in 2011. Here
Recording Locations: Stockholm, NYC, Various
Daniel Lazour and Patrick Lazour
13. Dreaming Words (Demo) Mood: Raw, simple, loving
In the Musical: In the second to last scene, Hany sees the ghost of his brother Amir. They sing together about the revolution that could have been.
Favorite Lyric: “And we’ll be a city of the sky, a river to the sea.”
Featured Artist(s): Daniel and I sing this one.
Recording Location: Seabright Beach, Santa Cruz, California
Flap My Wings (Songs from We Live in Cairo) is available via iTunes and Spotify.