Archive | January, 2012

Halina Frąckowiak: Idę Dalej (Muza, 1974)

26 Jan

Halina Frąckowiak had long been known as the lead vocalist with Andrzeja Niebeskiego’s Polish soul outfit Grupa ABC when she released her first full-length solo recording, Idę, in 1974. While many of the songs were in more mainstream idioms, the best material used progressive instrumentation and arrangements, many composed by Frąckowiak herself (including the song that concerns us here, Idę Dalej) with some additional material on the LP arranged by such notable composers as Katarzyna Gärtner and Wojciech Trzciński. The supporting musicians on Idę are drawn from a wide pool of Polish players of the time, so the approach here appears to have been for Frąckowiak to put together an appropriate backing for each song rather than work with a more stable line-up (on her second solo release, Geira, she worked more consistently with the progressive rock band SBB). Idę Dalej itself has a heavy organ-based sound and a dynamic that underscores its message perfectly: as Frąckowiak walks out on her dying relationship into some unknown future, to be lived on her own terms, the slow sections describing what she’s leaving behind are contrasted neatly with the uplift of the choruses that describe her going. I can’t help suspecting that this song might well have a similar status in Poland to that held by Gloria Gaynor’s I Will Survive in the UK: a perfect marriage of heartbreak and exhileration precisely engineered to make the ending of a relationship feel like the most exciting thing in the world, tinged with sadness though it might remain. The full song can be heard here and a transcript of the Polish lyric, written by Janusz Kondratowicz, can be read here:

Ide Dalej (Going On)

(After Janusz Kondratowicz/Halina Frackowiak, 1974)

There’s not much I can give you,
I’ve so little left in hand:
while the clock ticks ever faster
my days fade out like sound.

I shared everything I had with you,
each word, each passing thought,
each touch and fleeting moment:
what’s left now is not enough.

So your silence grows in volume,
impatient stares turn dark,
moods shift from cold to black,
sway like palm trees in a storm.

I’m going, I’m going back to live my life.
I’m going, as one thing’s born and another dies.
I’m going, you’ll write your own account of us.
I’m going, don’t miss me, I’ll find my own way out.

I’m going, along the path I have to walk.
I’m going, where horizons fall out of sight.
I’m going, without you at my side,
I’m going, I’ll keep going. I’m moving on.

There’s not much I can give you,
I’ve so little left in hand:
while the clock ticks ever faster
my days fade out like sound.

I shared everything I had with you,
each word, each passing thought,
each touch and fleeting moment:
what’s left now is not enough.

Today, there’s nothing left of us,
what I know I’ll no longer hide.
One hope I’ll carry against the wind:
that the memory helps me live.

I’m going, I’m going back to live my life.
I’m going, as one thing’s born and another dies.
I’m going, you’ll write your own account of us.
I’m going, don’t miss me, I’ll find my own way out.

I’m going, along the path I have to walk.
I’m going, where horizons fall out of sight.
I’m going, without you at my side,
I’m going, I’ll keep going. I’m moving on.

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Sarolta Zalatnay & Metro Együttes: Mostanában Bármit Teszünk (Qualiton, 1967)

25 Jan

I’ve wanted to include this particular song since a friend first alerted me to its importance in the Hungarian context around two years ago, but that same importance has made it something it seemed crucial to get at least approximately right, and the absence of any workable and reliable gloss from the Hungarian has meant it’s only now that I’ve had an opportunity to make even this tentative attempt at an English version of the lyric. Written by the Belgrade-born but Hungarian-resident brothers Zorán and Dusán Sztevanovity for their group, Metro, in 1967, the song gained prominence when featured in a film documenting the emerging youth culture of the time, Ezek a Fiatalok (These Young People). The lyric in Hungarian runs roughly as follows:

Mostanában bármit teszünk, egyre több a vágy.
Ki az, akit vádolnak? Ki az, akit vádolnak?
Téged is, ha életkorod nem sokkal a húsz év fölött jár.
Mondd csak, mivel vádolnak? Mondd csak, mivel vádolnak?
Tűnik az, hogy korosztályunk másképp él, mint jó apáink,
nem hasonlít mégse rájuk, náluk néha többre vágyik már.
Mostanában bármit teszünk, egyre több a vágy.
Ki az, akit vádolnak? Ki az, akit vádolnak?
Téged is, ha életkorod nem sokkal a húsz év fölött jár.
Mondd csak, mivel vádolnak? Mondd csak, mivel vádolnak?
Vétek az, ha hajunk hosszú,kedves táncunk nem a tangó.
Ki az, akit vádolnak? Ki az, akit vádolnak?
Tánczenénk ha gyors, ha lassú, számukra csak fület bántó zaj.
Mondd csak, mivel vádolnak? Mondd csak, mivel vádolnak?
Évek múlva biztos mi ishallunk ehhez hasonlókat,
egyszer tán a fiaink is így mondják el bánatukat majd.

Coming only a decade after the brutal suppression of the 1956 uprising, the accusatory tone, and the song’s assertion of a basic right to be, well, young, was a potent mix. The studied insolence of the very young Sarolta Zalatnay in this performance is utterly remarkable, every bit as charismatic as her Western contemporaries and predecessors, but it’s the context of the song that seems most forceful. The refrains demanding to have accusations and charges spelled out would have had a particularly powerful bite in a context where dissidence could still be an arrestable offence, so while on a par with many equivalent Western songs asserting the rights of the young, Mostanában is a song that in its own time and place must have made a stronger statement than the familiarity of some of its sentiments to Western ears would, by themselves, indicate. The song, as performed in Ezek a Fiatalok, can be heard here.

Mostanában bármit teszünk (These Days, Whatever We Do)

(after Zorán Sztevanovity/Dusán Sztevanovity, 1967)

These days, whatever we do, it seems we want more:
What are we accused of? Who has been accused?

We’re not even twenty, hanging out with our friends:
Tell me, what’s the problem? Tell me, what’s the charge?

Our fathers are another age, we don’t compare, we want more now!
What are we accused of? Who has been accused?

We’re not even twenty, hanging out with our friends:
Tell me, what’s the problem? Tell me, what’s the charge?

We don’t dance the tango, and you think it’s a shame:
What are we accused of? Who has been accused?

Our dancing’s fast, our music hurts your ears:
Tell me, what’s the problem? Tell me, what’s the charge?

I’m sure when we’re older, we’ll dance more slowly ourselves:
What are we accused of? Who has been accused?

That day, our sons will start to complain about us:
Tell me, what’s the problem? Tell me, what’s the charge?

But these days, whatever we do, it seems we want more:
What are we accused of? Who has been accused?

We’re not even twenty, hanging out with our friends:
Tell me, what’s the problem? Tell me, what’s the charge?

What are we accused of? Who has been accused?
Tell me, what’s the problem? Tell me, what’s the charge?