Monday, June 3, 2013

Report to Greco (Nikos Kazantzakis, 1961)

Nikos Kazantzakis

"I grabbed my stick and a bag heading to the mountains. It was the time that the Germans were pressing Norway, fighting to conquer them. 
One afternoon, passing by Psiloritis foothills, I listen to a loud and rough voice up there: 
— Hey, my friend, wait! Wait, I want to ask you. 
I lifted my head and I saw a man rolling down the rocky hill. He was descending with broad strides, from rock to rock, the stones trickled noisily under his steps, one would think that the whole mountain was rolling with him. I could see now clearly that it was a giant old-shepherd. I stood there and waited. What does he want from me? I thought; and why so passionately?
He came close, stood on a stone; his chest open, hairy, it steamed. 
— Well, my friend, he says panting, how is Norway? 
He had heard that a country was in danger of enslaving, and he didn't even know what is Norway, where is it, which people live there; one thing only was clear to him, that freedom was in danger. 
— Better, granpa, I responded, don't worry; better. 
— Thank god, the old-shepard roared, crossing himself. 
— Do you want a ciggarette? I asked. 
— What is to me the ciggarette? I want nothing; If Norway is better, that's enough! 
He said, stretching his shepard's stick and started walking uphills again, to find his herd. 
It is true, the Greek air is holy, I thought, it was definately here where freedom was born. I do not know if any other shepard of this world would live in such an agony and selflessly as this one the despair of this distant unknown land, that fights for its freedom. Norways' fight has become this Greek shepard's fight; because he thought of freedom as if she was his daughter."

Nikos Kazantzakis, Report to Greco,  p.448-449. 1961

Undoubtedly the most important Greek writer and philosopher of Modern Greece. We chose this small quote as an expression of solidarity to Turkish people and their just fight.

This amateur translation from Greek was written by Skip the Greek.

Saturday, March 17, 2012

Arzentina (Chimerinoi Kolymvites, 1981)

long drive you did. I see, buying a musical instrument is not something you can do by phone... but still. Long drive." she said, laying the silver tray on the wooden table. A coffee and something sweet is always a warm welcoming treat to a stranger.

Her husbant smiled gently entering the living room. "Welcome, young man".
"It's very nice to meet you Mr. Papadamou", I said.

There were all kinds of stringed musical instruments all around the place. Bouzoukis, baglamas, uds, tzouras, mandolins, lutes etc. hanged on the walls, laying on the couch, everywhere.

Driving all the way to Thessaloniki (300km) to meet a musician and constructor of musical instruments and come back with a bouzouki in the backseat of the car was indeed a long drive. However, the instrument I bought was special enough to worth it. Mulberry wood, walnut, fir wood, wenge and poplar combined at the various instrument parts along with Mr.Papadamou's handcraft produced a sound that is slightly different from the typical bouzouki's sound. This happens -in different ways- with all his instruments. In all 5 albums he has been a vital part of the band Chimerinoi Kolymvites we can listen to that difference. He made his instruments and he performed with them too - which is notably difficult if you think the different abilities somenone's hands should have: strong enough to work with wood and elegant enough to run precisely at a strigned instrument.

Chimerinoi Kolymvites, First album cover (1981)

Chimerinoi Kolymvites (= winter swimmers) have been active since 1979, and besides Mr.Papadamou, there is an other man -their "frontman", if we may use that term- that is the soul and the voice of the band. Argyris Bakirtzis voice is a remarkably destincive and peculiar one. Even when he just speaks. The band is still active consisting of a big group of friends at their sixties, that mostly live on the northern parts of the country. Most of them have their jobs too, but they often meet for concerts and - if in the mood - for albums too.

The song we present today is a sword, blading your evening. Few seconds with no intention to become music. A song about the eternal will of joy. Argyris sung it because they couldn't afford paying someone else to do so at that time. Fortunately, as it appears. But singing a moment of happiness can't last long. So it's just one and a half minute. The band usualy performs this one at the peak of a concert and people stop talking and dancing. They all raise their drinks in the air and they sing loundly with a smile on their face.

Chimerinoi Kolymvites, the band

Music, Lyrics: Argyris Bakirtzis
Vocals: Argyris bakirtzis, Isidoros Papadamou

The sea waves told me
tonight; that is all,
who knows about tommorow.

Come, my bird, let's go to Peramos
to be at "Arzentina"
fires, the seas will see
oh-oh, joys will see the stars

And the living-dead of our memory
ether flying,
flying in chaos, in dream
totally desparate.

*"Arzzentina" had been the first disco of >Peramos, a seaside resort close to the city of Kavala.

Saturday, September 10, 2011

John the Murderer (Fleury Dandonaki, 1980)

Fleury Dandonaki

leury Dandonaki was Manos Hadjidakis' favorite singer. She was born in Crete in 1937. She studied philosophy and theater at the University of South Carolina in the late '50s. In New York she made her first steps on the stage of Broadway and critics recognized something different in her wonderful voice, full of sensitivity, and in her large expressive eyes. The «New York Times» declared her talent equal to that of Liza Minnelli's.
In 1970 she meets in New York Manos Hadjidakis as she replaces an actress of the Broadway show "Jacques Brel is Alive and Well and Living in Paris". Manos is astonished by her performance. Fleury becomes his favourite singer and during the '70s they work together in many successful theatre and music projects. In 1980, it was at the insistence of Manos Hadjidakis, who was back then director of ERA's Programme C (radio broadcast) that the recording below took place.
Fleury Dandonaki died on July 18,1998 at the age of 60, after a long struggle with cancer and rests in peace next to her long time friend Manos Hadjidakis in a semetery in Athens.

The song was first released by Columbia in 1976. The name of the album is "Immortality". Music by Manos Hadjidakis and poetry by Nikos Gatsos. It is a masterpiece.

John the murderer [Ο Γιάννης ο Φονιάς]
music: Manos Hadjidakis
lyrics: Nikos Gatsos
vocals: Fleury Dandonaki

John the murderer
-son of a woman from Patras
and of a man from Messolonghi-
last Sunday
right after the prison
passed by our house

We treated him desert
we treated him mint
but the murder
we didn't mention (x2)

Only Phrosi
-shedding sea coloured tears
of her large eyes-
kissed silently
his precious hands
and went out of the hall

No one made it
to bear her pain
and no one from the family
found a word to say

And John the murderer
at the corner of the street
with the longing's thorn
remembered again
moons so distant
and the dream that was gone.

Thursday, June 9, 2011

The Oath (Foivos Delivorias, 1995)

Foivos Delivorias

oivos Delivorias was born in Kallithea in 1973, one of the densest Athens neighboorhoods. His guitar teacher was Orfeas Peridis, an artist we haven't had the chance to present yet but we will certainly do so in the future. In 1989, 16-year-old Foivos meets Manos Hadjidakis to presenthim his unreleased songs. Manos is impressed and this meeting results to Foivos first album called "The parade". Six years later (1995) he releases with Sony his second album - clearly more mature than the first - "Life if beautiful, only this way". His first concerts to music halls and univeristy festivals come after his third release called "Mess" in 1998. Since that time he has recorded another 4 albums and perfomed at quite some music shows in Athenian music halls.

His music is easy listening. He easily swithces music styles (even within the same album) possibly because of his references that spread from Greek folk music to Hip hop and modern jazz. The lyrics of his songs (even from his very first album) are distinguished for the excellent use of the Greek language (speaking Greek is tough, but speaking correctly is almost impossible), the natural and "easy-looking" way he expresses complicated stuff, his imagination, politeness and his references.

Everyone appreciates his music but only ages 20-40 can listen to it. Google him or Youtube hime with "Φοίβος Δεληβοριάς" or "Foivos Delivorias".

Today’s song is from his second album, and it is a lover’s oath. A woman first, and then a man tie themselves beautifully.

The Oath
music, lyrics: Foivos Delivorias
vocals: Eleni Tsaligopoulou

"I swear on the cherry tree's dyed lips
that I'll build myself in the waves
that I'll build myself in the waves
if you leave me

I'll reap apart the kisses
I'll swallow the misfortunes
and alone I'll nail myself, my star
on the thorn of my sorrow..."

"And I swear on the sea
that if I leave you
I'll lie down on the sea shore
and as a writing I'll fade away

And my dust will be scattered
on all of the Earth from
so that it get into your eyes, my lovely
to cry with tears of mine..."

Wednesday, June 1, 2011

I Only Come With Ideas (Nicholas Asimos, 1987)

simos Nicholas was one of these guys they were appreciated long time after their death. He was born 3 months before the end of the Greek Civil War, in 1949, in Thessaloniki. He started his studies there on Philosophy right with the beggining of the 1967 military junta and little before its fall, he moved to Athens. He was recording songs to tapes which he has selling on the streets.

His songs are very sensitive and proud. "Marginalized" pretty much describes his way of life and his music. I copy from wiki the last paragraph:
In 1987 he was wrongfully accused for the rape of an ex-girlfriend and was forcibly led to a mental institution. Shortly after he was sent to Korydallos Prison and was later bailed out. He never managed to overcome his bitterness over this unfounded charge. The outstanding trial along with other personal problems affected his psychological state profoundly. After two failed attempts, he committed suicide by hanging on 17 March 1988 in his house which he used to call preparation area. It is rumoured that he kept a diary during the last 15 days of his life in which he describes his efforts to find something worth living for in his life. He marked the pages with an "X" which meant that he had not found anything worth living for. The 15th day was also marked with an "X" which is the day he hanged himself.

The following song is a monologue. Nicholas Asimos signs it together with Sotiria Leonardou (that you might remember from this old post). Not much to say about it. It's very famous and I think that it's one of his most representative songs. If you like it, look for more.

I only come with ideas [ Εγώ με τις ιδέες μου]
lyrics, music: Nicholas Asimos [Νικόλας Άσιμος]
vocals with Sotiria Leonardou
Illegal Tape No.000008, March 1987

Ι only come with ideas
you only come with money
I think you want it all yours, heads and tails
I don't need your small talk
neither knowing you at all

I'll punch you where it hurts
I won't let anyone to pay for me
I'll dub myself a knight and jedi
and if I sober up
I'll tell you a "goodbye"

Even gods may change their mind
when great need there is
I never played brave
when it comes to war
and neither a water gun
I have in my shack

I'll keep my way as far as it takes
I won't let anyone to pay for me
I will fire anyone that laughs on me
my pains gives birth
to a thousant truths

I hand it all prepared to you
but you want it all yours
your greed won't let you in peace
take your money and go
and neither with my small toe
I can compare your pride

You can't look me in the eyes
and you'll die without a past
You are a victim of law and order
you don't even know the reason
to conquer me.

Sunday, April 10, 2011

The Price of Love (Dimitra Galani, 1983)

scene from the movie "The price of love", 1983

oday we host the soundtrack of a 1983 movie (by Tonia Marketaki) which was based on a 1912 book (by Konstantinos Theotokis) which was based on an imaginary love story in Corfu of 1900.

Dimitra Galani is singing this simple yet stongly emotional song, explaining how priceless love is. There is barely anything else to say, besides the truth that just a guitar can sometimes bring up to the surface the colours a whole band couldn't.

The Price of Love
music: Eleni Karaindrou
lyrics: Tonia Marketaki
with the voice of Dimitra Galani

There is no price for love
and neither for life there is
Who is selling it? Who is buying it?
Who is taking it to auction?

There is no price for love
and neither for life there is
Whoever loves can give it
with just a glance, a kiss

If you have a little love, give me
to sweeten my life
There is no price for love
there is no price for pride.

Saturday, February 19, 2011

"Is this where we vote?" (Our great circus, 1973)

reece was under a military junta between 1967 and 1974. In June 22, 1973 Tzeni Karezi and Kostas Kazakos started the theater play "To megalo mas tsirko" ("Our great circus") at the downtown Athens theater "Athinaion". Stavros Xarchakos did the music, Iakovos Kampanellis the lyrics, and Nikos Xylouris was the lead singer. The play was a satirical historical flashback of the history of Greece from the Ottoman empire to what was then present time. It quickly became extremely popular, and transformed into an act of political resistance against the dictatorship. People would ask at the register "Is this where we vote?".

It wasn't easy to get through the government's censorship. The play was marketed as a comedy to do so. Here is how the play started:

"One final word, ladies and gentlemen. We told you that our play is a comedy, but it is not a comedy because we say so, or because it was written as such. It is a comedy for a much more serious reason. We declared it as a comedy. We submitted it to the control committee as a comedy, and it was approved as a comedy by state decision number 195. By no means I wish to tell you that you are obligated to laugh by law. I am just noting that every similarity of our comedy to a drama is purely coincidental."

The censorship office soon realized their mistake, detained the producers, and shut down the play. But history had already been made. 500000 people are estimated to have seen the play. In 1974, the music of the play was released as an LP, and in 2003 as a CD. Here is one song of the album.

Our great circus [Το μεγάλο μας τσίρκο]
Music: Stavros Xarchakos
Lyrics: Iakovos Kampanellis
Voices: Nikos Xylouris, Tzeni Karezi, and actors

Great news I bring from up there
give me a moment to catch my breath
and think whether I should laugh,
cry, shout, or be silent.
The kings have fled
and now at the port down by the shore,
the allies are sending them away.
As they manipulated and fixed things
from the outset they dag their own pit
and close up our great protectors,
slowly became the grave-diggers
and who is to pay the bill again
and how can I start over again
at least if I knew why.

What else does my fortune tell me
three schemers are studying it.
Priests and pen pushers will let us know
with drums, parades and celebrations.
Cops are holding the constitution
and the courtiers in the palace
are waiting for something new to turn up.
The foreign bankers have glammed up,
the Greek real estate brokers have shaved.
Seven the interest five the make-up
forty with the oil and the vinegar
and he who believed and had patience
dumb and drugged he stands and stares
at the freedom being auctioned.

People, do not tighten the belt anymore,
don't take hunger for glory any more
Your fights do not count
unless they make up for the blood that has been shed.
People, do not tighten the belt anymore,
hunger for glory is for the quitter,
it is for the the slave and it will bury him.

Sources for this post (in Greek): link 1, link 2, link 3

Wednesday, February 9, 2011

Zavarakatranemia (Nikos Xylouris, 1973)

Nikos Xyloyris/ Νίκος Ξυλούρης

evolutionary mood. Tunisia and Egypt recently walked that path with jaw-dropping and extremely massive demonstrations. The last 20 years -that I may say I am capable of such judjement- very few times I had this feeling that something historicly important happens somewhere, right now.
There are some people with the same energy-let's say. They would give you the feeling that they are important, they can change stuff, they simply do. And their way is simple and beautiful. One of them was Nikos Xylouris. We have already introduced his brother on an older post.
We skip the wiki info to go to the main subject: the song.

Nikos Xylouris

(the song's lyrics contain one repeated phrase of words that mean nothing in Greek. They only remind the phrase "Black flags waved, mother bring me the knife". A call for revolution against the 1967-1974 military junta while it tries to avoid its censorship).

Nikos Xylouris is singing. He is one of the most -if not the most- highly appreciated Greek singers ever to come. He died young, of brain tumor. He comes from Crete, Greeks still call him "the angel" and his voice is pure, wide, strong and sensitive. Diamond.

Wednesday, November 3, 2010

Days Strange and Beautiful (Active Member, 2000)

Active Member on stage

band that was formed a night after a live concert of Public Enemy in Athens, June 1992: "Active Member". On Sunday in Greece we have elections and there if there would be only one thing missing from these, this would be active members.
A great band, giving birth to a sound and a musical form that in 1992 would be a joke if with Greek lyrics, baptised its music as "Low Bap" and with sentimental, strongly political, urban lyrics did what no other Greek hip-hop band achieved: influenced & expressed a 80s generation and teased a 70s one that was facing this music with skepticism.

A song about days that feel as strange as beautiful. That's how most Greeks feel now. Or at least those with a greater sense of identity.

Days Strange and Beautiful
album: Days Strange and Beautiful (Μέρες Παράξενες Θαυμάσιες Μέρες), 2000

Saturday, September 18, 2010

A poem (G.Aggelakas)

"Sitting a whole afternoon
on my old patched armchair
not expecting anyone to knock on my door
and no one to caress me
and no one to whip me
and no one tto accept me
and no one to reject me

I felt something coming
that could be happiness
So then I stood up to write down these words
and everything got lost."

["Καθισμένος ένα ολόκληρο απόγευμα
Στην παλιά μπαλωμένη μου πολυθρόνα
Μην περιμένοντας κανέναν να μου χτυπήσει την πόρτα
και κανέναν να με χαϊδέψει
και κανέναν να με μαστιγώσει
και κανέναν να με δεχτεί
και κανέναν να με απορρίψει
Ένιωσα να με πλησιάζει κάτι
που θα μπορούσε να 'ταν η ευτυχία
Τότε σηκώθηκα να σημειώσω αυτές τις λέξεις
Και όλα πήγαν στράφι"]

a poem by G.Aggelakas.

Welcome back and shall we have a great new season.


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