On the Long Road
On the Long Road (Russian song “Dorogoi Dlinnoyu”) by Boris Fomin
Although an American listener may not recognize the title the music is anything but unfamiliar! Do you remember the famous hit from the sixties, “Those Were The Days, My Friend”? The songwriter Gene Raskin wrote his famous words to the melody of Russian-Gypsy song “Dorogoi Dlinnoyu”.
The original song was composed forty years earlier by Boris Fomin, the ill-fated Russian composer of the post-revolution era. He was born too late: his tastes were formed during the so-called “Silver Age” of Russian culture, at the beginning of 20th century, and he was forever at odds with communist’s ideas of art. His music was considered decadent and even counter-revolutionary, and he was arrested and sent to jail. Although he was later released, the strain took its toll, and Fomin died at the age of 50. His songs survived, though, and even flourished.
Fomin was not a Gypsy; nor was the author of the lyrics, poet Konstantin Podrevski). But, as with “Coachman, Don’t Rush the Horses”, the same thing happened again: the song became known as a Gypsy song. Indeed, its very images are Gypsy: carriage-and-three with bells, the old (Gypsy) guitar with seven strings, the song that flies far away, ringing... Even more Gypsy is the melody that alternates between slow, melancholy verses and fiery refrains (it is interesting, by the way, that the American variant doesn’t have these sharp rhythmical contrasts). And so both in and outside of Russia this song is thought of as the fine example of Gypsy music!
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This story is just a tidbit from Alexander's "Songs of Exiles" concert program. To hear the full story, together with Alexander's virtuoso performance, come see him at his next concert! To buy this track, or the full CD of the music from "Songs of Exiles", follow the link on the left.