Thursday, August 13, 2009

Vladimir Vysotsky

Vlladimir Vysotsky is one of the most beloved of Russian bards. "the greatest Russian bard of the second half of the 20-th century", "voice for the heart of a nation". "Admired by all circles of Soviet society, a voice of dissent, but not a dissident, accepted by the Soviet government as an actor, but never as a poet and singer, Vysotsky held no office, no titles. "He was simply a son of his country, he was very Russian. He did play a very political role, because in his songs he came out against evil force, against the ugly system under which he was born." It is often said that his lyrics are untranslateble but here is one I found that conveys a good point. Unfortunately the lyrics are always much better in the original language, and there is just something unrepeatable in the Russian language in poetry.

Be thankful
Russian title: Podumaesh, s zhenoj ne ochen' ladno...

Who cares that your old lady's always nagging?
Who cares that you are breaking out in hives?
Who cares that, once again, you're off the wagon?
Be thankful that, at least, you're still alive.

Big deal -- your only jacket doesn't wear well.
Big deal -- the nightmares tortured you till five.
Big deal -- somebody mugged you in the stairwell.
Be thankful that, at least, you're still alive.

Yeah, yeah -- your poker partner died of scurvy.
Yeah, yeah -- you're looking pale and sleep-deprived.
Yeah, yeah -- you spent a week-end on a gurney.
Be thankful that, at least, you're still alive.

So what if you've got footprints on your forehead?
So what if your career just took a dive?
So what if your cholesterol is horrid?
Be thankful that, at least, you're still alive.

No sweat -- you never learned to play the fiddle.
No sweat -- another summons has arrived.
No sweat -- your head is hurting you a little.
Be thankful that, at least, you're still alive.

It's true that it's my fault, and I am sorry.
It's true -- you can't achieve unless you strive.
It's true. I only have a single worry:
To whom should I give thanks that I'm alive?

In Russian:

Подумаешь - с женой не очень ладно.
Подумаешь - неважно с головой.
Подумаешь - ограбили в парадном.
Скажи еще спасибо, что живой.

Ну что ж такого - мучает саркома.
Ну что ж такого - начался запой.
Ну что ж такого - выгнали из дома.
Скажи еще спасибо, что живой.

Плевать - партнер по покеру дал дуба.
Плевать, что снится ночью домовой.
Плевать - соседи выбили два зуба.
Скажи еще спасибо, что живой.

Да ладно - ну, уснул вчера в опилках.
Да ладно - в челюсть врезали ногой.
Да ладно - потащили на носилках.
Скажи еще спасибо, что живой.

Да, правда - тот, кто хочет, тот и может.
Да, правда - сам виновен, бог со мной!
Да, правда. Но одно меня тревожит -
Кому сказать спасибо, что живой?

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