Filipinki were an all-girl vocal group founded in 1959 at a technical college in Szczecin and became popular through exposure at song festivals and other events during the years that followed. By 1963 they were well-established, and while relatively mild by the standards of Polish beat music (Filipinki were generally given the kind of material associated with teenage life in a slightly earlier era, and steered towards a more ‘family entertainment’ ethos than some of their later peers) they are important historically, as the first of their kind in Poland, and did get to perform the occasional song that allowed them to deliver on their potential. The exuberant Nie Ma Go, for example, is as memorable a mix of sweetness, twang and lurching horns as anything in the back pages of the girl-group sound.
In Wala-Twist the musical aspects of the song and arrangement may be fairly saccharine, but the twist in this particular twist is its lyric, which celebrates the achievement of the female cosomonaut Valentina Tereshkova who became the first woman into space aboard Vostok 6 in June 1963. One reference in the opening verse may need clarification: Pan Twardowski is a sorcerer in Polish folklore whose story shares many features with the Faust legend. One difference lies in the story’s conclusion, when Twardowski prays to the Virgin on his way to Hell and is saved, but deposited on the Moon, where he remains to this day, his only companion a former colleague (turned into a spider by Twardowski himself) who descends on a thread from time to time to gather news of earth. The Filipinki version can be heard here, and there’s also an alternative take from Karin Stanek, recorded the same year: the Polish lyric is available here.
(after J. Janikowski/W. Patuszyński, 1964)
Pan Twardowski has been waiting for years
with his sorcery and spider to bring him news.
He’s put his flags out all over the Moon,
calls through the clouds: “Bravo, Wala, well done!”
He sings Wala, Valentina, Valentina Twist
among the rocks and craters of lunar space –
yes, sings Wala, Valentina, Valentina Twist
among the stars and comets of outer space.
Valentina, the planets already know you well
because today you became the world’s first sky-girl.
Your name’s Wala, Valentina, the Satellite Miss,
because today you are the first girl in space!
We gave flowers to Gagarin, made this twist for you,
singing Wala, Valentina, Valentina Twist:
yes, gave flowers to Gagarin, made this twist for you,
singing Wala, Valentina, Valentina Twist.
Maybe the moon will send you a letter today.
He’ll find two guitars, pick up the spare, and play
(to welcome you, as you take your bow in space)
this song called the Wala, Valentina Twist.
Valentina, the stars and land know your name,
they’re singing this Wala-Twist with us:
Valentina, even oceans and clouds sing your fame,
twist for Wala, Valentina: first girl in space!