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July 17, 2004 by AK

Pop poetry

 

As I’ve said before, Splean is one of the best Russian bands. Here’s the lyrics of a song that has to do, I presume, with a demographic mini-explosion in Russia’s two capital cities. Russian text here.  I tried to make the English version singable.

 

New People (2003)

 

A trolleybus froze in a trolleybus park–

A mechanic had messed up the wires in a rush.

Turning off lightbulbs of forty electrical candles,

People at nights are making new people.

Walls so thin of colored cardboard

In light-grey mansions of glass and concrete,

Trusting everything woven of afternoon news,

People at nights are making new people.

 

   People are screaming, choking from happiness,

   And moaning so sweetly, and breathing so quickly

   That you want to move faster with every second

   Making making making new people.

 

People believe, in Leningrad and Rome,

That death is what happens to others,

That life will keep spinning, spinning the wheel.

Did you hear the clock-hands freeze in the kitchen?

 

But it’s all right, it’s all right–grieve, then forget;

Over time, new people will come along.

Trolleybuses are rolling with corner lights off;

People at nights are making new people.

  

   People are screaming, choking from happiness,

   And moaning so sweetly, and breathing so quickly

   That you want to move faster with every second

   Making making making new people.

 

I’m not sure why Alexander Vasiliev, the band’s leader, put “Leningrad” instead of St. Petersburg–perhaps a reference to the past. Since Ekaterinburg is commonly called E-Burg, and bad rhymes are standard in pop verse, I’m tempted to rhythmicize those two lines as

 

People believe, in L-Grad and Rome,

That death is what happens to others alone.


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