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Living Freely by Djordje Balasevic (translated lyrics below) is one of my favourite tunes - a song about the nineties in Serbia, written about the generations of Yugs born in the 70s and 80s. It's been a bit complex to translate, and I think it would be difficult for people not in Yug during that era to understand, but I'll do my best to explain.

The Vizier and the Wizard of Oz etc. refer to Slobodan Milosevic (the song was written before he was overthrown), and to some of the propaganda of that time. There was a mass Exodus out of Yugoslavia in the 90s as the war began and the regime clamped down, and the standard governemnt claim was It's all right to let all the people leave, because the best ones are the ones who choose to stay in the country.

The bleak chronicles are partly in reference to obituaries which came pouring in in the early part of the 90s while the Balkans War raged, and Toronto and Sydney refer of course to Canada and Australia- the most popular destinations of the scattering Yugs.

There was at the same time a slowly growing resistance in Serbia itself, which persisted despite the lack of support from the West although it was not hugely effective, and *the walkers* and *paroles about freedom* is mostly about this. The walkers because during the winter of 1996 there were massive protests and demonstrations staged by *walkers* - people just massed together and walked around town, shouting, making noise, singing songs and carrying paroles about freedom and the overthrow of the regime.

And the last two stanzas are mostly about the lost generations of the 70s and 80s and about the clash of generations (between the old ones who often supported Milosevic out of fear and delusion) and the young ones whose youth had been effectively lost - whether through getting sent away to the front or living in a country that was hugely repressive and blighted personal creativity and freedom.

And encouragement to people not to give up, and to keep resisting even against a much more powerful seeming adversary - to take responsibility for the shitness of the situation and believe that even miraculous change is possible, and that even in the face of extreme repression (the wall of thorns growing ever tighter) a way out is still possible (the shortcut through the sky - the huge expanses of freedom that cannot ever get fully taken away as long as the hope to look up remains).

Not to succumb to corruption and false values, and that one day the roads in and out of Yugoslavia would open again, we'd be able to travel again as we had in the 80s (ie. we wouldn't need so many visas) and our footsteps would once more sounds on the streets of the world beyond Serbia.

It's a shame that the song does not translate well- the words in Serb are very lovely, and that the music cannot be conveyed, as it's a cool jazzy tune.

A long time ago the devil seated himself on your threshold, Serbia...
Nobody alive can recall so many misfortunes under one Vizier*
Around you neigbours build up walls of bitterness and contempt
That's never happened before... the crazy ones are glad and the others are ashamed

Bleak chronicles** and harmonicas... the remains of rock & roll
Fairytales that only the best ones stay no longer hold water
From the dark side of the globe it's plainly visible that the best ones are leaving
The pavements of Toronto... eyes the colour of the warfront... the password of us all

What does the story come to? Paroles about freedom
The walkers?*** And Weak support
It's not heads or tails... are we or are we not
This heart drums the tam-tam of eternal resistence

To live freely... To shout through the world
Decorated with the falcon's feather as a charm against manacles
to live freely... to conquer with song
Your grip on every city is where someone is happy to see you

As soon as you mention the phantom of change, the helmets flash ****
God pity the old ones, they lock themselves in as soon as the bosses raise thier voice
The children have to strain themselves to break their father's habits of lying
And so what happens in the end? Passangers for Sidney, exit so and so..

How long, for God's sakes, to let the evil wizard of Oz drive us
How long shall we let that supid joker tell us "Be quiet, all is well?"
Even if they gather all thier loot, they won't be able to buy you
To count out your youth like small change

Every morning is our haven...Flow like the mountain stream
Let the thorns be woven more closely.. The sky's your shortcut
And crush false diamonds like the shell of a hollow nut
Let the boulevards of the world recall the music of your footsteps)



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Comments

( 3 comments — Leave a comment )
mooism
Aug. 30th, 2004 02:54 pm (UTC)
“paroles about freedom”
“promises about freedom”?
“stories about freedom”?

Not sure I’ve made sense of it…
rainsinger
Aug. 30th, 2004 03:16 pm (UTC)
Re: “paroles about freedom”
ah good point, I;ve been making Yugisms again.

English word escapes me, it means words - sort of like a catchphrase. Slogan?
mooism
Aug. 30th, 2004 03:21 pm (UTC)
Re: “paroles about freedom”
“Slogan” works. Makes that part sound more cynical and despairing.
( 3 comments — Leave a comment )

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