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Friday, June 26, 2015

Beli Dunav, Part Two: More Songs from Bulgaria: Danube Blues

It's fun to sing sad songs. And it's fun to listen to sad songs. Enjoyable. Satisfying. Something.
Richard Thompson

Singing and listening to sad songs is a universal thing, especially when people have been drinking a little too much alcohol. This tends to bring out the maudlin streak. Songs about tragedy and lost love are common to many cultures, and today's post features four folk songs from Bulgaria. They mention the Danube, River of Many Names in the lyrics.

The first song is Dunave, Beli, Dunave,  (White Danube) performed by Lyuben Zahariev.  I couldn't find the lyrics or a translation of the song.  The overall impression that I get is that there is a loss, maybe someone traveling far away leaving a girlfriend behind. If anyone out there has a translation, please post it in the comments section.

The festive backdrop in the video is the set for the Bulgarian National Radio's Folk Party show, which is on at 11 a.m. Sundays on the Hristo Botev channel. If you're an early riser in the Eastern United States or Canada you can listen to it live; otherwise you can catch the broadcasts posted on the web page.



Lyuben Zahariev's singing style has often been compared to Kaicho Kamenov, who lived from 1923-1983.  Both men were from northwestern Bulgaria, Vidin region.

This song is about about a man watching the fog and dreaming about his lost love: It is titled Kolko sa mÅ­gli po Dunava (What is the Fog on the Danube? Unfortunately Google Translate is not always 100% accurate, this is the best translation I could find.)  Kamenov recorded most of his songs before the advent of color TV.  The video is in black and white and shades of gray  (fortunately not the Fifty Shades of Gray from that bondage and domination movie that was so popular recently.)  Fog is a common phenomenon around large bodies of water, especially during spring and fall. It is white and obscures visibility. Many accidents (both on land and water) occur on foggy days.

The text (in Bulgarian) includes a brief bio of Kamenov and mentions his most popular songs, and shows the album cover.  Back in the old days records (anyone remember those?) were 10" in diameter, held one song per side, and the rotational speed was 78 revolutions per minute.  The average recording was about three minutes long.We have come a long way since then.



In the next  video you get to watch a slideshow while listening to Radka Krai Dunav Stoeshe (Radka Stood Along the Danube).  Is she waiting for someone from far away?  Was she in love with a fisherman who never returned? This is another song with lyrics that could not be found, but the overall mood of the song is pure blues with accordion, clarinet, and lament. If you watch closely, you can see an ancient photo, most likely this is Radka. What color is the Danube here?  The same color as the song.



The video for Oj Dunave Beli is even more colorful, featuring people on a steamboat dressed in period costumes from the early twentieth century. The singer is Daniel Spassov, and is an excerpt from a longer video titled Ide Duhovata Muzika (Here Comes the Brass Band).

I was able to pick up some of the song's meaning, which has to do with nostalgia for the past and one's lost youth.



If you liked this you may also enjoy:

Beli Dunav Part One: Danube Songs from Bulgaria

The River of Many Names Part Five:  (Nostalgic songs from Serbia)

The Colors of Bulgarian Folk Songs

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