Tuesday, April 19, 2011

The 1980s were an intense time to be living in Moscow. Even (especially) for a kid.

These things mean everything to me, that's why I never share them here. But let me give you a little culture lesson about some good stuff that transpired at the time of my childhood.

Yanka Dyagileva was a young poetess /musician from Novosibirsk, Siberia who managed to produce a small amount of records, all released after her death.

She was also the lover and friend of Yegor Letov of "Civil Defense" (pictured).

She lived with her dad in a one story wooden house with no indoor plumbing. In May 1991 she went out for a smoke and disappeared. Her body was found a week later in the Inya river. She was 24 and depressed at the time of her death.

Her death was registered as suicide but I guess there were rumours that she could have been killed because of the open anti government sentiments in her songs. Most of her work at the time was published by Magnitizdat (illegal self recording/distribution to avoid political censorship, sort of like Samizdat but for music).

http://yanka.lenin.ru/ <<< is mostly in Russian but if you can get through it there's a great archive of photo/music files.

Yanka Dyagileva: For a Rainy Day

Yanka & the Great October Revolution: On the Train Tracks

Yegor Letov was also a poet and musician from Siberia. He's the founder of Grazhdanskaya Oborona (Civil Defense) or GrOb, which means "coffin" in Russian.

In the mid 1980s shortly after GrOb came to exist Letov was thrown into a mental asylum by the KGB for writing anti communist lyrics and inciting riots.

he was administered anti-psychotic drugs that he said gave him "blind spells"

As soon as he was released from the hospital he promptly wrote a song called "Everything's Going According to the Plan" about "grandpa Lenin rotting in his mausoleum".

Yegor Letov and Yanka Dyagileva. Apparently he was an awful friend and lover to her, which was the main reason for her depression. Listen to this song (LINK), it's my favourite performed by both of them. It's called "Poppyseed Bagel//May Day"

In the mid 90s when USSR was finally over he lost it a bit with nostalgia and became one of the co-founders of Nazbol (National Bolshevik Party) with Alexandr Dugin and Eduard Limonov. FYI Limonov wrote some great books in the 1970s when he was young, if you ever want to read about soviet youth during those days you should look him up. My fave one of his, "A Young Scoundrel" can be found online HERE.

Yegor Letov died of heart failure in his sleep in 2008, he was 43.

Alexandr Bashlachev produced a lot of poetry between 1984 and 1987. His songs and poems mostly about an "authentic" Russian moral life, about the times before Tsar Peter I brought Western bureaucracy to Russia, laying the foundations to the Soviet regime and trampling the traditions of Russian culture. 

In 1988 he completely stopped making new work, refused to perform and eventually "fell" from the window of the ninth floor of his Leningrad apartment, he was 27.

Bashlachev playing a kvartirnik (house show). Music was under extreme censorship so musicians often played shows in their own homes to a small group of friends.

You can read some of his poetry here (link) but it's a pretty gruesome amateur translation by the person who owns the website. It's only the only translation available online so I guess you have no choice.
I was a kid then, and hearing or reading about those times today makes me feel a sense of belonging that is hard to feel where I am right now.

There you go. If you got this far down - I'm going to be in Toronto tomorrow. I want to see you! Bye.


isla.m.craig|at|gmail.com said...

i wish i wasn't at work so i could listen to all of these videos you posted. special post, xoxo

Anonymous said...

this is amazing music, just what i needed. x