By the long road

You probably never heard of Boris Ivanovich Fomin, but you ought to.
In 1920, he composed a song called Дорогой длинною (By the long road) with lyrics by the poet Konstantin Podrevsky. This tune subsequently went around the world like wildfire.

The above might not mean anything to you, but this traditional Russian folk song is better known in America as “These were the days” and this might ring a bell. I am pretty sure that everybody has heard this tune in one language or another at least once. In France it was known as “Le temps des fleurs” and it was performed among other artists by Dalida.
In Russia “By the long road” is considered a drinking song and is widely performed everywhere.

My wife helped me to discover a Russian singer who does a fantastic job with this tune. His name is Aleksandr Malinin and I bought at least half a dozen of the songs he performs. I am totally bewitched and I cannot stop listening to him.

The first verse of By the long road goes like this:

You rode on a troika with sleigh bells, 
And in the distance lights flickered.
If only I could follow you now
I would dispel the grief in my soul! 

I consider this to be a rather awkward translation, but it gives you an idea of what the song is about.

By the long road, in the moonlight, 
And with this song that flies off, ringing,
And with this ancient, this ancient seven-string,
That has so tormented me by night. 

This by the way (for the conspiracy-obsessed) is not a Russian presidential interference. There is no hidden message here and I am not supplied with any hush money by the Kremlin.  I just love the sound of the Russian language, and frankly, I am tired of contemporary American music. Just repetitive, monotonous, unmelodic crap.

One of my personal challenges during this dreadful pandemic is also to improve my  Russian (I have to know what my wife is plotting with her cronies) and it is a way to “joindre l’utile à l’agréable” (mix business with pleasure).

You can, by the way, hear Aleksandr Malinin on YouTube.


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