Vladimir Vysotsky performing in Yaroslavl in 1979TASS
Born into a poor family in Moscow in the turbulent year of 1938, Vladimir Vysotsky went on to become a very talented singer, songwriter
Everything Vysotsky did – whether performing in the theater, or singing, or just living - he did with
His life was much like that life of a Hollywood movie star. He always had expensive cars, fashionable leather jackets, and of course, the most beautiful women. His last wife was French actress Marina Vladi – being married to a foreign woman was something that all Soviet men were envious of.
Vysotsky composed nearly 600 songs, which he performed playing his guitar. Here are a few that are still popular and that for sure reflect the mysterious Russian soul.
"Better than all the mountains is the Mount,
Which nobody has mounted yet!"
This phrase is now an aphorism in Russia. It’s a song from the movie Vertical (1967), where Vysotsky played one of the leading roles and performed several songs. He says that every time people leave the mountains, they leave their hearts there. And each time they feel sorrow when leaving the mountains, there’s nothing one can do because " sometimes even gods descended to Earth."
This song is a kind of anthem for Russian alpinists and backpackers. So, next time when you're in the mountains, take a guitar and sing this song when sitting around the campfire. Here’s an English translation of the entire song.
“I don’t like when a stranger reads my letters
Glancing over my shoulder.”
This is an interview with Vladimir Vysotsky, and with this song, I don’t like (1969), he tried to explain to journalists his life credo.
Generally speaking, he doesn’t like the things that a strong and honest man wouldn’t stand for: rumors, extreme self-confidence, when someone stabs you in the back and when someone tries to get inside your soul. He feels anger “when innocents suffer,” and isn’t happy with himself if he acts cowardly.
The full English translation is available here.
“But my horses are so wayward, so hard to please,
Leaving no time for a life, for a song...”
This song is an imitation of ancient Russian tunes and contains even motifs from an old gypsy romance. That’s one of the best examples of
Take a look at the episode in the movie, White Nights, where Mikhail Baryshnikov dances to this Vystotsky song.
“If you’re in your apartment,
just lay down on your carpet!
One-two-three! Complete correct movements!”
Alongside serious songs full of anguish, Vysotsky also composed cheerful ones, such as “Why Did the Savages Eat Captain Cook,” or “A letter to ‘Incredible But True’.” “Morning Gymnastics” (1968) is probably one of his most famous funny songs.
Find the song's English translation here, and try a gym workout in the Soviet style.
“So, agree with the heaven
If the palace is taken by others!”
As a man of deep thought and
Read the full text of the song here.
If you want to know more about the soundtrack to the Russian soul, listen to 11 songs that explain everything.
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