“Among all the remarkable Usvyaty singers it is necessary, first and foremost, to single out the name of Olga Fedoseevna Sergeeva [I can’t find any English website for her]. We communicated with Olga Sergeeva for ten years and recorded over 300 songs in the most various genres performed by her. I brought the singer to Leningrad three times and she performed in ethnographic concerts in the House of Composers, on Leningrad radio and made some records with “Melodia” company.
“Sergeeva is an outstanding folk singer. Ritual songs and old lyric prevail in her richest repertoire which indicates the high artistic taste of Olga Sergeeva, as most of her contemporaries prefer singing new lyrical songs of the romance type. In the lyrical songs especially loved by the singer, her voice sounds plummy, deep–however, reserved at the same time and even subdued a bit, and from the very first sounds it spellbinds the listener with its beauty and cordiality.
“There is nothing outward, emotionally open in her performance, this is singing for herself with no relation to the listener. At the same time plainness, naturalness, strictness, is combined here with improvised freedom and excellence of micro variation. “Each song has one hundred changes”, the singer remarked once. It is not by chance that Andrei Tarkovsky chose the recording of Olga Sergeevas’s 1971/2 recording of the old song ‘Kumushki’ for his film Nostalghia.” (From HERE.)
The second version that follows here is also very beautiful, but a more contemporary interpretation, by singer Pelageya off her album Girls’ Songs in 2007.
Here is a translation of the words that I found:
Oh, my girlfriends, be sweet;
be sweet and love one another,
be sweet and love one another,
Love me too.
You will go to the green garden,
take me with you.
You will pick flowers,
Pick some for me too.
You will weave garlands,
take me with you.
You will go to the Donau,
take me with you.
You will offer your wreaths to the river,
offer mine too.
Your wreaths will float on the water,
but mine will sink to the bottom.
Your boyfriends came back from the war!
Mine didn’t return.
Full album (1965).
In a review for the 1967 Takoma reissue, ED Denson called the liner notes (by Alan Wilson of Canned Heat) “…a paranoid vision of reality unrivalled since Kafka. Nothing is what it purports to be directly, but everything is “in a certain sense” — people make statements like characters in B-grade horror films, the trivial becomes significant, the meaningful, nothing.”
The notes begin thus:
A disgusting, degenerate, insipid young folklorist from the Croat & Isaiah Nettles Foundation for Ethnological Research meandered mesmerically midst marble mansions in Mattapan, Massachusetts. It was an unsavory, vapid day in the summer of 2010 as the jejune air from Back Bay transubstantiated itself autologically and gradually into an ozone-like atmosphere.
Knocking on a random door, haphazardly, the tasteless young man pondered the Hebraic inscription on the marble-tiled foot-brush, soporifically: “I wonder what the hell that means,” he said to himself reflexively.
The foot-brush backed itself into a corner at bay, with its back to the wall. Then, hissing at the wishy-washy young man, it reared up on its hind leg & stared into space, vociferously & stoicly.
At this juncture a somewhat equivocal shoe-shine man opened the door, munching on a vacant popsicle stick. Before greeting the young man he reached up with a tentacle and stroked the aging foot brush on its fore, thus quieting the beast’s existential anxiety.
“Pardon me,” the unflavored young man said casually, “Do you have any old arms and legs you’d like to sell? I’m paying thirty-seven, twenty-five, ninety-six, twelve cents apiece for old arms & legs depending on the condition they’re in.”
“Just one moment,” the splotched ontology professor mumbled, “I think we may have a few out back in the quagmire, or possibly near the fen, or then again we may have some by the waters of the boggy bayou. I must point out, however, that it is quite possible that we have none left. And I should also say that we may never have had any anyway. I certainly can’t remember ever having any.
Since the past went into a flux it’s very difficult to remember anything, you know. But I’ll certainly take a look. And don’t be afraid of my foot-brush. He’s been in the family for years. And, while it is quite true to say that he hisses a lot, and he certainly does, it is also quite true to say that he never bites anyone except when he does. But this is not the same as to say that he has actually bitten people, and I certainly wouldn’t go so far as to say that, because, well, for one thing I can’t remember anyway. But I’ll go look for those arms & legs like I said I would. Did I say I would?”
“Yes, you did,” the stale young man replied weakly.
“Well, then I will, in all probability,” the aging grave-digger muttered as he faded gradually through the irregular portal.
My new favourites out of Stockholm are this duo, and their album The Lost Colony.
According to their website (where you can also watch their videos and stream music):
“Siri Karlsson is a duo that have always gone their own way and broken with established standards. With one foot rooted in mystical folklore and the other constantly in search for new influences, they manage to create a highly personal expression. With vocals, alto saxophone, piano and key fiddles they create an unorthodox hybrid of folk, psychedelia and progressive.”
“Turn, Turn, Turn” is based on verses paraphrased from Ecclesiastes 3 in the Bible, widely believed to have been written by King Solomon around 1000 BCE. Pete Seeger put music to the words in 1959, recording his own version in 1962.
Miss Zingel, our sweet, slightly hippy music teacher at primary school during the last throes of 1980s apartheid, introduced us to this much-covered song, as well as to another of my favourites by Seeger/Malvina Reynolds, “Little Boxes”, which was released on CBS in 1963:
A recording of lined-out singing by the Indian Bottom Association Of The Old Regular Baptist Church in Appalachia.
“Lining out”, also called “hymn lining” or “line singing”, is a haunting form of a cappella hymn-singing or hymnody in which the song leader gives each line of a hymn tune as it is to be sung, usually in a chanted form suggesting the tune, and the rest of the congregation then sings the line. It can be considered a form of heterophonic call and response.
Although the practice has now all but died out, it was once very common in Old Regular and Primitive Baptist churches to hear line singing, because musical instruments were not allowed in these churches, and some people in the congregation could not read to use a hymnbook either.