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?

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