Pop culture | Turkey

Protest songs from the car radio

When screenwriter Cem Kaya reflects on his childhood, he remembers the long car journeys from Germany to Turkey - and the music of the “Aşiks”. On the travelling singers of Anatolia and their links to pop music by immigrant workers in Germany
The director Cem Kaya can be seen holding a microphone. He is wearing dark clothing and a baseball cap

For centuries, the aşiks, travelling singers in Anatolia, dealt with political topics in their songs. In the 1960s, this tradition also arrived in Germany via immigrants. This music, which we listened to on our annual car journeys back to Turkey, had a huge impact on me. 

Guest workers sang, with long-necked lutes in their hands, about racism in their new country. There are examples like the song “Liebe Gabi” from the band “Derdiyoklar”. In it, a Turk with a twinkle in his eye explains, half in Turkish, half in German, to his German girlfriend: “Helmut Kohl and Strauss too, le-le-liebe Gabi, want foreigners out. It's not enough to say ‘I love you’.”