Sunday, August 26, 2012

Manchester et Liverpool (Russian cultural references)

Marie Laforêt

A friend reminded me about this song today. Because Manchester City plays Liverpool and he is a great football fan and a great francophile.

Me, I have been boycotting football ever since the brilliant Dutch side of Johan Cruyff lost in the final of 1974 World Cup to the cautious bores of Franz Beckenbauer. I decided then that there is something wrong with the game and nothing has prompted me to change my mind since.

But I am not writing about footbal. 'Manchester and Liverpool' is a song that had served as the background music to the weather forecast at the end of 'Programma Vremya' (Time), the main Soviet TV news programme at 9:00 PM.

Just imagine: 250 million people had listened to this same tune day after day for more nearly twenty years!

Few knew what it was, it was just an instrumental piece. I was surprised to learn it was foreign when my father, who had just returned to Moscow after a long stint abroad, told me its title.

I am not sure why this particular melody was chosen for the Soviet weather forecast, some TV boss must have been smitten by the French film star and folk-pop singer Marie Laforêt.

But it's a lovely song and still touches nostalgic strings in the hearts of former Soviet citizens.

The opening music was Georgi Sviridov's triumphant 'Time, Forward'. It is still the signature tune for 'Vremya.'

Here is Marie Laforêt singing her 1967 hit:

And here is a sample weather forecast at the end of 'Vremya':

Special thanks to Maxim Yusin.

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