Friday, November 27, 2009

A Subjected To Censorship (Vasilis Tsitsanis & Sotiria Mpellou,"Be A Little Bit Patient", 1948)

Vasilis Tsitsanis and Sotiria Mpellou

arming up with easy west-influenced listenings couldn't last long. So we go straight back to 1948, to listen to a recording of a love song that had been strictly censored because of it can also be read politicaly, "Be a little Patient". Times of civil war, since 1946. A war that was the first act of cold war in Greece which ended in October of 1949 leaving behind a totally demolished country, socially and politically. Vasilis Tsitsanis -the composer- sung this song with Sotiria Mpellou, an incredible and unique woman voice. A little bit of background about that man can be found on Rebetiko Row website link for him.

Rebetiko (which may also be found as rempetiko, rembetiko) is a music kind oriented from the East. As such, or more specifically as "of Turkish influence and origin" rebetiko is officially prohibited in 1936. Do not look for glory, decency or elegance on the lyrics or the music. It was played for many years by lower social classes, drop-outs, also by some considered "criminals" at their time. But still, look for emotions, for pain, for love, for humor, for a fight against the Establishment and the social injustice. Some sort of blues, you could say. The wiki article is surprisingly nice:
Rebetiko, plural rebetika, (Greek ρεμπέτικο and ρεμπέτικα respectively), occasionally transliterated as Rembetiko, is the name for a type of Greek urban folk music. A roots music form of sorts, the sound of the genre reflects the combined influences of European and Middle Eastern music. Rebetiko music has sometimes been called the Greek blues, since like the blues, it grew out of a specific urban subculture and reflected the harsh realities of an oppressed subculture's lifestyle: poverty, alienation, crime, drink, drugs prostitution, and violence. But rebetiko's subject matter also extends to other subjects: romance and passion, social matters, people such as the mother, death, the difficulties of living in a foreign country, army life, war, trivial matters of everyday life, exotic places, poverty, labor, illnesses, and the minor sorrows of people. A major theme of Rebetiko is the pleasure of using drugs, especially hashish. Rebetiko songs of this kind are called Χασικλίδικα (hasiklidika). Also like the blues, rebetiko progressed from being a music associated with the lower classes to becoming during the 1960s and later a revived musical form of wide popularity, especially among younger people. Rebetiko music was closely associated with the mangas Greek urban subculture. Finally, rebetiko songs usually display the same chord progressions found in songs from classic Mississippi delta bluesmen like Robert Johnson and others.
All the rebetiko songs are based on traditional Greek or Anatolian dance rhythms, zeibekikos, aptalikos, chasapikos and servikos being very common but they also include tsifteteli, karsilamas, syrtos and other dance styles.
Petropoulos divides the history of the style into three periods:
1922–1932 — the era when rebetiko emerged from its roots with the mixture of elements from the music of Asia Minor
1932–1942 — the classical period
1942–1952 — the era of discovery, spread, and acceptance.
So, there we are. Third period, lets say. However the song doesn't know about periods. It talks about things without age. It's one of those that you can dance. Zeibekikos is the rhythm called. A beautiful male dance that originates from the Zeybek warriors of Anatolia. Since we are definitely going to come back to that later (while this post is already getting to big), you can read the wiki article for some introductory information.

Sotiria Mpellou

This specific unique record is dated at the 11th of November of 1948. The key word for its censorship (that continued even after the civil war) was the word "dawn". Tsitsanis as well as many other composers wrote songs about love with undercover meanings of that form to cheat the censorship. In 1950 the song entered the Athens Police Department's list of "forbiddens" under the title "The Patient". At that time there were policemen destroying hundreds of gramophone records with that song... Tsitsanis himself at his autobiography is stating:

"It was very hard to write what you really wanted to. You wouldn't get the licence even to record it. [...] At that time, around 1948, I wrote one with symbolism in lyrics hoping that it would pass the censorship, while its meaning is clear.. "Don't fall in despair for he won'’t be late at the crack of dawn he'll come by you to beg from you a new love's beginning be just a bit patient..". The first part talks about the soldiers' needed patience since he might be on the mountains, in exile or in prison. The second "pushes the clouds away" from their hearts and the last part symbolises the hope for peace.."

The translation given below the song was dragged from and it is also available in Italian, German, Hebrew, Turkish and French. You can check there.

Be a Little Bit Patient
Vasilis Tsitsanis - Sotiria Mpellou

Don't fall in despair for he won'’t be late
at the crack of dawn he'll come by you
to beg from you a new love's beginning
be just a bit patient

Push the cloudy darkness away from your heart
and don’t lose your sleep sobbing all night
what if he is not in your cuddly arms as yet
he'’ll come one day, don'’t you forget that

Some sweet daybreak he'll awake you
and your love for each other will resurrect
a new love will bloom again
be just a bit patient...

1 comment:

  1. What is the name of Tsitsanis autobiography?



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