What’s the best Greek song that Stelios Kazantzidis, Greek singer, has ever made?

By: | Post date: 2015-12-04 | Comments: No Comments
Posted in categories: Modern Greek, Music

Kudos to Achilleas for his comprehensive answer, and for pointing out something unfamiliar to the contemporary Anglosphere: plenty of musical traditions, like Greece, don’t require singers to be songwriters for them to have credibility. In fact, not only songwriters, but  lyricists distinct from songwriters have a high profile—something I find cool, but which went out of fashion in the Anglosphere with Tin Pan Alley.

It took me a long time to warm to Kazantzidis, just as it took me a long time to tolerate Mozart. Both require a different kind of emotional maturity.

My favourite happens to be Η ζωή μου όλη:

My whole life’s a burden:
it takes it all, gives nothing.
My whole life’s a chimney:
I’ve fallen in, I’m burning.

My whole life’s a nonsense,
and my sole possession.
My whole life’s a offering
with no aim or meaning.

My whole life’s a ciggy:
hate it, but still smoke it.
Reaper Man can have it
when it’s time to  scarper.

Actually, that’s not a good translation of the last verse, I just settled on it for the metre. It’s combination of slang, contempt, and fatalism is very Greek, and very arresting…

And yes, the lyricist ended up honour-killing his daughter’s boyfriend. (Άκης Πάνου – Βικιπαίδεια) But the lyric isn’t his, it’s the world’s.

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