All levels/ The Most Famous Russian Bard

 

Watch a 60 Minutes episode featuring an interview with Vladimir Vysotsky conducted by Dan Rather in 1976. While listening to the songs performed by Vysotsky, you can follow lyrics I provided below, then you may want to try your hand in translating them. Note that Vysotsky often plays with words in such a way that there are double meanings that could not easily be rendered in English.

33 years after his death, Vladimir Vysotsky, who has often been called the “Bob Dylan of the USSR” is popular as ever.  In the masses of books and newspaper articles and magazine stories written about Vysotsky after his death, he has been described as an iconic Russian actor and a provocateur, a poet and an alcoholic and a drug addict, a singer-songwriter and a debauchee, a romantic and a ladies' man. He actually has been a revered national figure whose heritage has been in the limelight in recent years.

He early discovered his true vocation around which his life had revolved -- performing in theatre and movies. His leading roles in such the Taganka’s productions as Hamlet, The Cherry Orchard and Crime and Punishment remained legendary. However writing poems and singing songs was equally important for him. He performed his own songs with a deep, hoarse and intense voice, tuning his guitar to the "low pitch A". He was influenced by the "standard" folk melodies which he utilized to elevate songwriting with his extraordinary body of work: more than 700 songs and over 2000 public and private performances. As a songwriter, he became really famous at 35 with his stylized outlaw songs, then even more so with songs that ranged from lush and romantic topics to various issues considered taboo in Soviet culture, such as un-heroic aspects of war, ever-watchful neighbor, corruption, the tyrannical bureaucracy, psychiatric hospitals. Vysotsky renders the narrator’s voice as that of a man looking back on his experiences with greater perspective. His first person narration allows alter ego for himself to say shocking things about convicts, drunkards, recent political returnees, sailors, athletes, scientists, and survivors of the Gulag, war veterans, gold miners, historic, mythological, or folkloric figures or animals. Whatever the mask, the narrator always proves very

intelligent and deeply introspective, saying things that people would have loved to say, but never dare to show of themselves.

 He was way ahead of his time in laughing at public obsessions and Soviet politics. Despite Vysotsky’s contention that he is not a satirist, some of his songs are obvious allegories. You can just read his lyrics of Козел отпущение [Scapegoat] (“В заповеднике, вот в каком забыл…”) to find a story that may mean so many things and makes you feel as if you are solving a puzzle. Since his songs assumed to threaten social order, Soviet authorities banned his public performances and during his lifetime Soviet television did not broadcast his concerts, however, his fans would record the songs on their reel-to-reel tape players, and cassette-tape recordings of live performances of his songs achieved wide circulation.

His marriage to Marina Vlady, a famous French actress, gave him some advantages, such as getting visas to go abroad, touring around Europe, driving an extravagant Mercedes-Benz through Moscow and behaving like a Western rock star. Although KGB might have been monitoring his correspondence for quite some time and was probably following his every move. In fact, due to his very public presence as an actor, he was most recognized Russian bard, nevertheless Vysotsky never gained direct access to the media and remained an enigmatic figure.

Even his death that occurred when Moscow was hosting the 1980 Moscow Olympic Games was ignored by the country’s authorities. A true testament to his symbolic power in the society was his funeral, when dozens of thousands of Muscovites abandoned the Olympic Games and came to Vagankovskoe Cemetery to say their farewell to the most famous Russian bard.

 

 

Я НЕ ЛЮБЛЮ

Я не люблю фатального исхода,
От жизни никогда не устаю.
Я не люблю любое время года,
Когда весёлых песен не пою.

Я не люблю холодного цинизма,
В восторженность не верю, и ещё -
Когда чужой мои читает письма,
Заглядывая мне через плечо.

Я не люблю, когда - наполовину,
Или когда прервали разговор.
Я не люблю, когда стреляют в спину,
Я также против выстрелов в упор.

Я не люблю, когда - наполовину,
Или когда прервали разговор.
Я не люблю, когда стреляют в спину,
Я также против выстрелов в упор.

Я ненавижу сплетни в виде версий,
Червей сомненья, почестей иглу,
Или - когда все время против шерсти,
или когда железом по стеклу.

Я не люблю манежи и арены:
На них мильон меняют по рублю.
Пусть впереди большие перемены -
Я это никогда не полюблю!

 

СПАСИТЕ НАШИ ДУШИ

Уходим под воду
В нейтральной воде.
Мы можем по году
Плевать на погоду,
А если накроют -
Локаторы взвоют
О нашей беде:

Спасите наши души!
Мы бредим от удушья.
Спасите наши души,
Спешите к нам!
Услышьте нас на суше -
Наш SOS все глуше, глуше,
И ужас режет души
напополам!

И рвутся аорты,
Но наверх - не сметь!
Там слева по борту,
Там справа по борту,
Там прямо по ходу
Мешает проходу
Рогатая смерть!

Спасите наши души!
Мы бредим от удушья.
Спасите наши души,
Спешите к нам!
Услышьте нас на суше -
Наш SOS все глуше, глуше,
И ужас режет души
напополам!

 УТРЕННЯЯ ГИМНАСТИКА

Вдох глубокий. Руки шире.
Не спешите, три-четыре!
Бодрость духа, грация и пластика.
Общеукрепляющая,
Утром отрезвляющая,
Если жив пока еще -
гимнастика!

Если вы в своей квартире -
Лягте на пол, три-четыре!
Выполняйте правильно движения.
Прочь влияния извне -
Привыкайте к новизне!
Вдох глубокий до изне-
можения.

Очень вырос в целом мире
Гриуппа вирус - три-четыре! -
Ширятся, растет заболевание.
Если хилый - сразу в гроб!
Сохранить здоровье чтоб,
Применяйте, люди, обтирание.

Разговаривать не надо.
Приседайте до упада,
Да не будьте мрачными и хмурыми!
Если вам совсем неймется -
Обтирайт
eсь, чем придется,
Водными займитесь процедурами.

Не страшны дурные вести -
мы в ответе бежим на месте.
В выигрыше даже начинающий.
Красота - среди бегущих
Первых нет и отстающих!
Бег на месте обще-
примиряющий.