The Hymn of the Soviet Union was the national anthem of the USSR from 1944 through 1991 (replacing the Internationale). The melody remains the anthem of the Russian Federation today, although the lyrics have been changed. (Indeed, the lyrics of the Soviet version were changed from the 1944 original as the past was revised.)
Just for fun, here is a stirring rendition of the hymn as misheard by an English speaker, illustrated by the images summoned.
Having been born in 1975, the ‘80s were my childhood. During that decade, there were a number of musical groups whose names were acronyms, such as R.E.M., AC/DC, REO Speedwagon, and ELO. In addition, there was also a short-lived country band called S-K-O, named after its three members: songwriters Thom Schuyler, Fred Knobloch, and Paul Overstreet.
I hadn’t thought of S-K-O in years, but my memory of them came flooding back a couple of days ago when one of their songs popped up on my YouTube Music app: “Baby’s Got a New Baby”:
Released in 1986, the song rose to number one on the country charts. It is a wistful, yet upbeat tune about a man worrying that he’s losing his girlfriend.
Regrettably, it was the only number one tune the group would ever have. Paul Overstreet left in 1987 to pursue a solo career. The band replaced him with another songwriter named Craig Bickhardt and renamed itself S-K-B, but it never again reached the same level of success and disbanded in 1989.
Meanwhile, Paul Overstreet achieved some notable success as a solo act with ten studio albums and sixteen charted singles, two of which made it to #1. My favorite song of his was “Me and My Baby,” released during the summer of 1992 just ahead of my senior year of high school.
Such songs evoke a sense of joy that has largely vanished from my life, and I treasure them as I would the most priceless jewels.
Dad died a year and a half ago. Gee I miss him. I was very fortunate to have him for so long; he was 85. I saw Fathers Day mentioned today, so when I got a chance to kick back this evening, I went to listen to the stuff he listened to. I was never musical much, though I enjoy singing in church. I also was never much into pop music. Not rock and roll, either. I was a jazz fan, because Dad was a jazz fan. We lived within radio range of the public radio station at the University of Tennessee, and they played jazz in the evenings beginning shortly before my bedtime.
I still have some of Dad’s favorites on real honest vinyl, but since we moved to new digs in February I have not found the time to set up the turntable. So here is a Youtube link to one of our favorites. Bossa nova. Enjoy; this is Stan Getz on saxophone, but the thing that makes the album shine is the fabulous guitar of Charlie Byrd.
A recently released song by two dead men has been weighing on my mind since it came out. The song is entitled “You Never Knew My Mind” off the new anthology album Forever Words. The album consists of songs that were originally poems written by Johnny Cash and adapted into songs by various artists at the request of the Cash family. This particular song was done by Chris Cornell of Soundgarden and Audioslave fame.
The song describes two people in a relationship: one of whom thinks the relationship is healthy, the other who is less positive and more aloof despite admitting there were good moments. What is particularly poignant about the song are the circumstances around the timing of its composition and release.
This is the first song by Cornell released since his suicide one year ago next week. Cornell had a history of drug addiction (which he put behind him over a decade ago) and depression which he apparently never had been able to overcome. He’d spoken of his depression before, “I know what it feels like to be suicidal, and I know what it feels like to be hopeless,”and, “No one really knows what run-of-the-mill depression is. You’ll think somebody has run-of-the-mill depression, and then the next thing you know, they’re hanging from a rope. It’s hard to tell the difference.”
To all outside appearances, his second marriage and children had provided him with the emotional grounding he needed, and the charitable work he did had provided him with purpose beyond music. His suicide says otherwise. His wife still maintains that he took too much Ativan and had a bad reaction, but the coroner says the drugs in his system played no part in his death. Cornell’s brother also maintains that Chris had undiagnosed mental illness that the family was too embarrassed to admit which led to his suicide during another depressive episode. The fact his wife refuses to admit the possibility that he chose suicide suggests she may not have known his mind like she thought.
The film Solaris touched on this idea of not truly knowing someone that you think you know well. In this film, George Clooney’s character is visited by a manifestation of his dead wife generated from his memories of his wife. He rejects this manifestation despite it looking and sounding like her because he comes to realize that his memories of his wife are his superficial impressions of her and lack her real personality.
It is hard enough for us to truly know others when we struggle to know ourselves. Even in antiquity, we find, “Know thyself,” as a maxim inscribed on the Temple of Apollo at Delphi and expounded upon by Greek philosophers. Man has an infinite capacity for self-deception. Pastor Richard Wurmbrand, who was tortured for 14 years in a Romanian communist prison for running an underground church, described this even among people who sincerely thought they believed in something. “There are two kinds of Christians: those who sincerely believe in God and those who, just as sincerely, believe that they believe. You can tell them apart by their actions in decisive moments.” “A man really believes not what he recites in his creed, but only the things he is ready to die for.” If we cannot know our own hearts without extreme testing, how can we know another’s?
We have long had a problem in discerning the real person when dealing with celebrities or public figures with whom we have no personal contact. What we see is an image, carefully crafted, sometimes by the person, sometimes by a PR team. We mistake that for the real person and then are shocked when we find out the real person isn’t like their persona at all. This problem has now extended into common life (if not entirely new, certainly to a greater extent than before) via social media. We now all construct online personae or ideal versions of ourselves to display to the world, often hiding the struggles and real person buried beneath. A recent article reported the following findings:
More than half of survey respondents — 54 percent — said they always or sometimes feel that no one knows them well. Fifty-six percent reported they sometimes or always felt like the people around them “are not necessarily with them.” And 2 in 5 felt like “they lack companionship,” that their “relationships aren’t meaningful” and that they “are isolated from others.”
As I listened to this song, it struck me that this would have to be just about the most devastating thing a loved one could tell me at the end of their life. I can’t imagine going through life thinking you know someone intimately only to find out at the end you never knew them at all. It is the essence of Christ’s warning in Matthew 7:21-23, “Not everyone who says to Me, ‘Lord, Lord,’ will enter the kingdom of heaven, but he who does the will of My Father who is in heaven will enter. Many will say to Me on that day, ‘Lord, Lord, did we not prophesy in Your name, and in Your name cast out demons, and in Your name perform many miracles?’ And then I will declare to them, ‘I never knew you; depart from Me, you who practice lawlessness’.”
For the past few days I’ve had an old Oak Ridge Boys song in my head:
Seems everything I buy these days has got a foreign name,
from the kind of car I drive, to my video game.
I’ve got a Nikon camera, a Sony color TV,
but the one that I love is from the USA standing next to me…
The song is “American Made” – released in 1985. It was such a hit for the Oak Ridge Boys that Miller Beer used a modified version of it for a series of commercials in 1985 and 1986.
These days, such a tune would cause any social justice warrior to faint dead away, and I’m not sure that much of present-day corporate America would be so enamored of the song either, given its direct appeal to traditional values and patriotism. And that is a shame.
Cold beer and beautiful women – ain’t nothing more American than that!
Have your mind blown:
This is the spectacular jazz fusion psych– hey, where are you going? No, no, really, this stuff is AMAZING! I dare you to go three minutes with this and not look forward to listening to the whole damned album.
Never heard of Radim Hladik; never heard of Blue Effect. Shame on me. This album is from 1971. Born the year after WWII ended, Hladik passed away about a year and a half ago, after touring for fifty years.