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Those Were the Days, probably, is one of the most popular Russian songs in the West. It was written by a composer Boris Fomin and poet Konstantin Podrevsky in Paris sometime in the 1920’s. The earliest recording by Tamara Tsereteli is marked 1925. Fomin was born in 1900 and that makes him a pretty young man to write such a great song.
Музыка Б. Фомина
Ехали на тройке с бубенцами,
А вдали мелькали огоньки…
Эх, когда бы мне теперь за вами,
Душу бы развеять от тоски!
Да с песней той,
Что вдаль летит звеня,
И с той старинною,
Да с семиструнною,
Что по ночам
Так мучила меня.
Да, выходит, пели мы задаром,
Понапрасну ночь за ночью жгли.
Если мы покончили со старым,
Так и ночи эти отошли!
В даль родную новыми путями
Нам отныне ехать суждено!
Ехали на тройке с бубенцами,
Да теперь проехали давно!
Music by B. Fomin
English text by Gene Raskin
Once upon a time there was a tavern,
Where we used to raise a glass or two.
Remember how we laughed away the hours,
And dreamed of all the great things we would do.
Those were the days my friend,
We’d thought they’d never end,
We’d sing and dance for-ever and a day,
We’d live the life we choose,
We’d fight and never lose,
For we were young and sure to have our way.
Lalala lah lala, lalala lah lala
Those were the days, oh yes, those were the days.
Then the busy years when rushing by us.
We lost our starry notions on the way.
If by chance I’d see you in the tavern,
We’d smile at one another and we’d say:
Just tonight I stood before the tavern,
Nothing seemed the way it used to be.
In the glass I saw a strange reflection,
Was that lonely person really me.
Through the door there came familiar laughter.
I saw your face and heard you call my name.
Oh, my friend, we’re older but no wiser,
For in our hearts the dreams are still the same.
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This Post Has 3 Comments
I want to personally thank you for lessons 29 and 30. These songs are within my abilities and your chords have given these songs a very sweet melody. I learned how to play kalinka back in 1979, however the version I was taught never sounded as good as your version. Those were the days, excellent chords although I have not yet mastered it I will difinately enjoy playing this with the base-line recordings. I have almost mastered lessons 1,2, and 3, however lesson 4 is very complicated and will require a lot of concentration and constant reviewing of your lesson exercise. To tell you the truth lesson 4 is intimidating to me, but I am determined to go in sequence lesson by lesson till I can get all of these lessons completed, although I am skipping to lessons 29 and 30 for right now. I noticed your translation for those were the days doesn’t match the Russian included with the words, was that deliberate? I am very excited now about actually learning to play the balalaika better now for these recent songs and hope to be able to play well enought to use the fast speed.
I may not have been accurate in my lesson descriptions, I can play the robbers, blue kerchief, and along the peterskaya road almost at your normal speed, I can follow kalinka but need practice and I’m still trying to learn those were the days, lesson 4 is still very intimidating to me, one of my favorites is dark night, but I don’t think it had the slow version you usually do after instructions so I couldn’t pick-up on it right away.
Paul, thanks for your kind words! That was not my translation, these are the lyrics by Gene Raskin.
As far as Dark Night is concerned I did not put the slow part because the song was already very slow.