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Sunday, December 17, 2006

The Sunday Photos Russian Rock & Roll Special: Made in the USSR

La Russophobe is pleased to offer another window into Russia by way of translation, this time a multi-media presentation with some insights regarding pop music.

One of Russia's most tried-and-true pop stars is Oleg Gazmanov (pictured, left), who one might say is roughly the Russian version of Bon Jovi (sure Oleg doesn't have that kind of talent, but talent has never stopped anyone from becoming a rock star in Russia -- or "president" for that matter). Here is Oleg's patriotic answer to Bruce Springsteen's "Born in the USA." If this doesn't send (the wrong kind of) chills (of terror) down your spine regarding the horrors of the neo-Soviet Union, nothing will. Following the translation, you can watch Oleg and his boys performing the track in concert as well as view a montage created for the song by a fan. To those of you living in Urkaine, Belarus, Moldova, Kazakhstan and the Baltics who may not consider yourselves Russians or wish to become so, La Russophobe apologizes in advance for this affront. On the other hand, it's a much-needed wakeup call for many.

Can you imagine a German version of Bon Jovi singing "Adolf Hitler and the Gestapo, this is my country, I was made in Nazi Germany!" with pride and a spring in his step as thousands of crazed fans wave German flags with jingoistic fervor? Can you imagine him singing "Poland and France, this is my country!"? It sounds vaguely like the plot of a new Mel Brooks comedy, but it's not. It's Russian reality.

Oleg is currently out an eponymous tour and performed the little ditty most recently on November 12th at the Fox Theater at the Foxwoods Resort Casino in Mashantucket, Connecticut. Tickets ranged from $45 to $150 and Oleg was billed as "Russia's most celebrated songwriter and performer making his Foxwoods debut in a one-of-a-kind power packed show featuring his show group 'Eskadron.' His new show 'Made in the USSR' will include new material as well as hits from the past decade including 'Moryachka', 'Tuman', 'Ofitseri', 'Moskva' and many more."

Made in the USSR

(a direct translation, without the rhyme or meter in the original)

The Ukraine and the Crimea, Belarus and Moldova
That is my country.
Sakhalin and Kamchatka and Ural mountains
That is my country.
Krasnoyarsk Region, Siberia and Volga Region,
Kazakhstan and the Caucasus, and the Baltic States too

Chorus

I was born in the Soviet Union
I was made in the USSR
I was born in the Soviet Union
I was made in the USSR

The Ryuriks, the Romanovs, Lenin and Stalin
They are my country
Pushkin, Yesinin, Vystotsky, Gagarin
They are my country
The ruins of churches and the brand new temples
Red Square and building the Intercontinental Highway

Olympic gold, the races, the victories
This is my country
Zhukov, Suvorov, combines, torpedos
This is my country
The oligarchs and the beggars, the might and the ruin
The spies and the secret police and the great scientists

Glinka, Tolstoy, Dostoevsky, Chaikovsky
Brudel, Shalyapin, Chagal, Aivazovsky
Oil and diamonds, gold and gas
The Navy, the Army, the Air Force, the Marines

Vodka, caviar, the Hermitage, the rockets
The most beautiful women on the planet
Chess, opera, the best ballet
Just tell me something that we haven’t got!
Now Europe is trying to form a union
But in the past our ancestors struggled in battle
Together we won the World War II
Together we are the world’s biggest nation
Dissolve the borders, there’s no need of passports
Without us you’re nothing, together we’re friends

Here's the Russian original text, for those who may be interested:

Сделан в СССР
1
Украина и Крым, Беларусь и Молдова -
Это моя страна.
Сахалин и Камчатка, Уральские горы -
Это моя страна.
Красноярский край, Сибирь и Поволжье,
Казахстан и Кавказ, и Прибалтика тоже ...
Припев
Я рожден в Советском Союзе,
Сделан я в СССР
Я рожден в Советском Союзе,
Сделан я в СССР
2
Рюрики, Романовы, Ленин и Сталин -
Это моя страна.
Пушкин, Есенин, Высоцкий, Гагарин -
Это моя страна.
Разоренные церкви и новые храмы,
Красная площадь и стройка на БАМе ...
3
Олимпийское золото, старты, победы -
Это моя страна.
Жуков, Суворов, комбайны, торпеды -
Это моя страна.
Олигархи и нищие, мощь и разруха,
КГБ, МВД и большая наука ...
4
Глинка, Толстой, Достоевский, Чайковский,
Врубель, Шаляпин, Шагал, Айвазовский
Нефть и алмазы, золото, газ,
Флот, ВДВ, ВВС и спецназ.

Водка, икра, Эрмитаж и ракеты,
Самые красивые женщины планеты,
Шахматы, опера, лучший балет,
Скажите, где есть то, чего у нас нет ?!

Даже Европа объединилась в союз,
Вместе наши предки сражались в бою.
Вместе выиграна Вторая мировая война,
Вместе мы самая большая страна.
Душат границы, без визы нельзя,
Как вам без нас, отзовитесь, друзья !




Oleg and his band doing "Born in the USSR" in concert



A video montage of Soviet images with Oleg crooning "Born in the USSR" in the background





Heroic Cartoon Oleg struggles against corruption (is that little Volodya Putin in among his merry men?)

16 comments:

Commenting said...

"Triumph of the Will", anyone? Your analogy about Nazi version "Poland and France, this is my country" sums up everything and leaves no need for further comments. Chills down the spine indeed. Yet they are supposedly anti-fascists. Oh yes, and we need enemies, thank God for NATO. And whole Western world.

The maker of the slideshow in the second clip had enough stupidity to include propaganda posters depicting USSR vs. capitalism economy, welfare level and foreign policy comparisons, making the whole thing good for laughs. However, its target audience is not widely known for good critical thinking skills.

USSR was artificial country at best, where several totally unrelated cultures were held together by a soldier boot. Here is a simple question for neo-soviets: name a single thing, that was common in, for example, Estonia and Turkmenistan.

La Russophobe said...

Commenting: You're quite right of course, and the worst thing about it is that the Russians themselves don't see these other countries as peer equals but rather as colonies, yet expect them to love Russia. The worst example is Chechnya, where Russia definantly says to the world that it can't defend the Chechens from human rights abuses because Chechnya is "part of Russia" and not a colony, but when Chechens ask for equal rights under Russian law they are spit upon.

This explains why Russia now stand alone in the world, on the verge of oblivion.

anton said...

very interesting blog. Regarding Gazmanov, I do not see his display of 'patriotism' any different than what we have seen here in America after 9-11. It is easy for the masses to cross the line between patriotism and nationalism, and I think you will agree that both countries have shown that tendency.
Regarding the historical reference to the times of tyranny, the United States do not have much to be proud of in that department, either. "Harding and Nixon, Reagan and Bush Jr., Cuba, Vietnam, Laos, Iraq -- I was made in the USA!" I am reminded of slavery and consequent oppression of black people, women, the systematic extermination of 'Indians' and so forth. This does not prevent most Americans from being proud of their country, often excessively so. The point I'm trying to make is that many countries have episodes in their history which are not to be proud of. But if you consider yourself a patriot, you take the good with the bad. One thing the Russians do have going for them is they know their history, their art and literature, which is more than I can say for the vast majority of Americans graduating schools and colleges today.

penny said...

anton - the US ended slavery forever on it's soil 200 years ago, got that, how many political dissidents toiled for 70 years in Russia's gulags into the 80's? Stalin's death toll, anton? Got the number on that? So civil rights was a bit late in coming to Russia, if it ever really got there at all. And, the wars and US presidents that YOU don't approve of count only as that, your opinion. Your vacuous shallowness is the hallmark of the history challenged.

Oh, and, history, art and literature are pretty much found across all cultures, unique to each. Too bad you didn't go to college, you would have learned that in a basic humanities/anthropology course.

La Russophobe said...

ANTON: Thanks for your comment. I couldn't disagree more strongly that Russians know their history. If they did, would they elect a proud KGB spy as their president and play the Stalin hymn as their anthem? It seems unlikely. That would be like Americans singing a slavery tune and electing the KKK. I try as you might, I don't think you'll find an American pop star of Gazmanov's magnitude singing that Canada and Mexico are really part of the USA. If you did, likely the world would condemn them with seething and quite proper outrage.

And after all, just because America does something bad doesn't mean Russia can do it too, does it? If it did, America could build a gulag archipelago. I'm routinely outraged at the way Russians will justify their bad acts by referencing America, yet when an American virtue is raised they say "Russia is a different country" and cannot be compared to the U.S.

penny said...

His concert was at Foxwoods Resort Casino in Mashantucket, Connecticut...this guy is so seriously B List that it's hilarious, and never mind that he doesn't get Springsteen's context for "Made in the USA".

Russians need to seriously stick with classical music for export. Anything simulating American music from the 20's on isn't working for them.

La Russophobe said...

PENNY: Indeed. And yet the ticket prices were high enough, which means that a bunch of expats were willing trek in from all over the place to see him, including undoubtedly a whole bunch who don't even agree with his sentiments, just out of nostalgia. If you go to Brighton Beach in NYC you can still find Russians buying the inferior (and unhealthy) food products they get at home out of the same nostalgia even though they now have better choices. The force of habit is one of the neo-Soviet Union's most powerful allies, it seems.

Anonymous said...

u stupid bitch made a wrong conversion of the last two lines

Russian Patriot said...

Not understood by LR:

Gasmsnov performing in the USA was not for Americans but for Russian speaking USA residents who came form all the republics of the former USSR. And the song is about their shared past. It is not about getting the lands back under Russian control. It is about shared history (good and bad), shared values, friendship, good neighbourhood. It is the appeal: "We were together. Let's stay in touch, let's stay friends".
Not everything was bad in the USSR. I read an article the other day about some dumping place in Kirgizstan, where in the Soviet time a plant stood to make electric bulbs. Now people are diggin the hills of glass debris to get nickel wires and sell the metal. And one of them, a Kyrgis man said: "When it was the USSR we lived well. I had my 1 mo. vacation every year. Ones I travelled to the Baltic states and it was very nice to be there. Now I have to dig here to support my family".
I heard a lot of good words about the USSR from Azerbaijani people, from Armenians, Kazakhs, Ukrainians...

LR certainly has lack of knowledge and no feelings (other than russophobia) about Russia and the USSR- that is why she can not understand what is going on there and her comments sound stupid most of the time...

Alexandr said...

The translation is more or less correct, except the last stanza, which was definitely mistranslated, on purpose or not. It should read something like this:

Even Europe formed a union,
Together our forefathers have fought,
Together the Second World War was won,
Together we're the world's largest country,
The borders are choking us, can't go without a visa
How do you get along without us, please let us know, friends!

I agree somewhat with Russian Patriot about the meaning of the song, although in my opinion the text is too forced and insincere, therefore it sounds more like ominous propaganda that promises to put USSR back together.

What kind of idiot put Hermitage and rockets on the same line, for God's sake!

La Russophobe, you are indeed right on many issues regarding Russia, but, please, don't make the mistake that's made by the official propaganda that often bends and hides the truth to sound more convincing. Once you make that mistake, you lose credibility. Only if you stay objective will your criticism be well placed. In other words, if you report the TRUTH and FACTS, whatever they are, even if they might compliment my country and people, and let other form their own opinion, instead forcing your own, will you be able to actually change and convince.

After all, if you present Russian people as being equivalent to their government, as though they have no future, no hope for change, you only breed negativity, alienation and hatred. One stupid Russian person's words and actions do not mean that every other Russian thinks and acts the same. It would be a giant mistake to judge the entire people by their worst representatives. Russians had a very tough 20th century, and strong desire for at least some stability is understandable. It's hard to rock the boat when you've only started to feel that normal life is starting to take place, even though the government policy is puzzling and has some very undesirable tendencies.

Anonymous said...

Elmer here.

LR, how can I explain this?

First - this is funny. A guy who is trying to look like Bruce Springsteen singing about how the USSR was "one country," how everyone was made in the USSR, and how everything still belongs to the USSR.

I think the Beatles had a much better song, including references to girls - "Back in the USSR."

Better melody, bettey lyrics, lots more fun.


Second - to me, the Russians are like schoolyard bullies.

As one of the commenters noted, they held together the USSR with a boot on the necks of people - and with the Russian language, just like other empires have tried to do.

The only empire that I'm aware of that did not impose their own standardized language on the people they conquered is - the Mongols.

Back to bullies - when you finally stand up to the bully, and hit him on the nose, invariably the bully goes away crying.


Historically, Russians have flocked to the "strong man" government. And have used force to bully other nations.

Then, they claim that everyone is Russian or soviet. One country - one people. One Russian people, that is. Homo sovieticus.

Here's the problem - yes, Russians have produced some good things culturally.

But when it comes to good, decent, honest, fair and open democratic government - they fail miserably.

And they try to deny it, or overlook it, or justify it by referring to Pushkin.

So then you get an idiot like this guy, who is entirely serious about it, trying to resurrect the USSR.

And, as noted above, you get the same idiot singing about the Hermitage and rockets in the same line.


And by the way - it's not the first time I have heard the "how are you getting along without us" line.

It's a form of sour grapes, obviously, and it assumes that countries like Ukraine, or Bulgaria, or Hungary or Poland, or Estonia, etc. simply can't get along without Oily Mother Orthodox Russia.

They can't stand the idea of not being an empire any more.

Rock and roll ought to be fun.

The Russians love misery - it makes them happy.

That's why they will never have good rock and roll.

Good literature and classical music - yes.

I hope they finally get their act together and stop playing the learned helplesness game when it come to government.

Anonymous said...

elmer here again.

LR - I don't mean to hog your site, but I forgot.

There it is again - the "now-you-see-it-now-you-don't" glorification of Stalin.

Russkies are used to talking out of both sides of their mouth - at the same time.

So, when you mention the Holodomor, the Artificial Famine in Ukraine - they start screaming "it wasn't us, it was Stalin, blame him, he was Georgian, not Russian."

And they you get this idiot glorifying Stalin in a bad rock and roll video.

It's not the first time I have seen that, either.

Or the "Slavic brotherhood" theme.

Or the "nationalities are bad" theme - well, except for Russian, of course. One nation, one big Russian homo sovieticus.


Lasha toombai!

Anonymous said...

elmer here again.

LR, I really don't mean to hog your web site, but the more I think about it, the funnier this gets.

I think the guy is absolutely schizoid.

He sings about "no passports."

In the sovok union, what difference did that make? Well, none.

Because they had a system of "propysky", which meant that you weren't allowed to travel anywhere without permission.

Foreign tourists were not permitted outside of designated areas.

And if you were a sovok citizen and traveled abroad, for example, in a dance group, you had "guardian angels" to make sure that you didn't go where you were not supposed to go.

I wonder how come he didn't mention jeans?

In the sovok union, jeans were a huge status symbol. People would walk up to you, if you were a foreigner, and ask to buy your jeans - Levi's (pronouned "levees") and Wranglers (pronounced "vranglerrrrrrss") especially.

In every hotel for tourists, they played only one song - "Hotel California." Wherever you went, that's the song they played.

People on the street would ask you about Duke Ellington - and Michael Jackson.

And - the would ask to buy your dollars.

The official exchange rate was about 1.5 dollars for a ruble.

The people knew better. On the street, you could get 8 or 10 rubles for a dollar. That way, you could buy foreign goods.

Only the people who were "more equal" than others could openly get foreign goods or access to Western culture - like Brezhnev, etc.

Back to visas - what was the point? You were not permitted to leave the sovok union anyway, except in very, very special circumstances.

I know all of this from personal experience.

So much for nostalgia for the glorious workers' paradise.

Stupid, idiot schizoid russkies.

Russian patriot said...

To Elmer

Well, I agree, the song is not a masterpiece or even a high quality product. Russians call it "popsa". Just simple "musical popcorn" or "chips". So? It is not the reason for russophobia. American songs, like Justin Timberlake's, are even simplier and sillier. Show business in Russia is market regulated now, and the song come because there is a demand for this kind of nostalgia. In 1992 the very same Gazmanov sang the song "Veter" to greet the anticommunist reforms in the USSR. I do not see what is bad about people liking the contry, they were born in. It is like "God Bless America" feeling. Even if the Americans killed a lot of Indians, whiped out totally some of the tribes, conquered their lands, had slavery, greedyly exploited the Latin America nations, and now are bullying every nation in the world that did not agree with you.

Where did you find "the idiot glorifying Stalin?"
If you do not understand Russian, there is an English translation of the song. He just mentioned that Stalin was in our shared past.

People would walk up to you, if you were a foreigner, and ask to buy your jeans.

People on the street would ask you about Duke Ellington - and Michael Jackson.


So what? What is specificly "resskies'" about all this? The USSR economy was based on planning, not on free market. So the Planning Ministry (Gosplan) did not care about making jeans or Michael Jeckson vinils. It was not something absolutly needed to live.
But people always want something what the others do not have.
Especially if the things are in shortage.
When a new console X-Box (computer game) appeared in December, last year it was in shortage. And many Americans were ready to pay 8-fold price to get it. Does it mean Americans are miserable, unhappy people?

...they had system of "propysky", which meant that you weren't allowed to travel anywhere without permission...

Like LR likes to say: "You are an idiot!" Propiska was a registration of the place of residence. Someone moved to a new place to live -go to the miltia (police)department and get registered. That was propiska. In no way it was an obstacle for travelling.
I would recommend you not to talk about the things you do not understand.

In every hotel for tourists, they played only one song - "Hotel California." Wherever you went, that's the song they played.

Funny. Did they play it ALL day long?
You were just unlucky one. That was "sovok's" torture by music for those foreigners who were not liked because of their stupidity.

Anonymous said...

elmer here.

Against my better judgment, I'm going to go ahead and feed a troll.

The capacity of russkies to make up excuses and rationalize bad things, even Stalin, is absolutely astonishing.

I haven't heard any "nostalgic" rock songs about Hitler.

My family could not more freely anywhere they liked during the sovok union. And propysky was a part of the reason.

sovok citizens were not permitted inside tourist hotels - unless they worked there.


And even during the sovok system, people found a way to get around a horrid sovok system that was not working. Even Brezhnev, who had some nice Mercedes.

That's why they engaged in "speculatsia" - which was illegal.

They bought dollars on the street, because they were smart enough to get around a horrid system - even at the risk of jail.

Anonymous said...

To Elmer.

It may be said for you to here that, but you are a complete DOLBOEB. Same goes to La Russophobe.