Wednesday, October 21, 2009

Where Have All The Flowers Gone - in Russian



This is a tribute to Mary Travers, an icon of the 1960s protest song generation, who died 16 September 2009.

The group Peter, Paul and Mary was engineered by Albert Grossman as a folk "supergroup" by bringing together "a tall blonde (Mary Travers), a funny guy (Paul Stookey), and a good-looking guy (Peter Yarrow)" in an entrepreneurial response to the stupendous popularity of protest songs that were quickly becoming a pop-culture phenomenon. They recorded their first album, Peter, Paul and Mary, in 1962 having already gained a loyal audience through live singing in New York's Greenwich Village. The album included "500 Miles", "Lemon Tree", and the Pete Seeger hit tunes "If I Had a Hammer" (subtitled "(The Hammer Song)") and "Where Have All the Flowers Gone?"

All of these we used to sing in Moscow in the 60s and 70s,  as part of our English language education - and simply because we loved the songs. I was glad to discover that the songs live on and are being performed in Russian.  The text  Masha Makarova and Oleg Nesterov sing here is a true and fine translation of the original.

Where Have All the Flowers Gone is based on the Russian cossack song Koloda-Duda (Колода-Дуда) which appears in Sholokhov's novel And Quiet Flows the Don ("Тихий Дон"). Pete Seeger read the book and the song inspired him to write the Flowers. Masha Makarova and Oleg Nesterov sing Seeger's lyrics translated back into Russian. It is a fairly faithful translation but it's not clear who is the author. The circle stays unbroken.

I was looking for the Hammer Song in Russian, but couldn't find it. Please send me a link if you know of one.

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