What is the weirdest song in your language?

By: | Post date: 2016-05-14 | Comments: No Comments
Posted in categories: Modern Greek, Music

Zavara Katra Nemia, Greek, 1968.

The songwriter Yannis Markopoulos was routinely subject to censorship during the Greek Junta, as a left winger. So he wrote a song with nonsense lyrics and lots of 5/8 and 11/8 metre, which got past the censors. And everyone assumed it was against the dictatorship anyway.

Zavara katra nemia Zavara katra nemia
Hallelujah Hallelujah

Zavarakatranemia Mercy Mercy
lama lama nama nama nemia
Hallelujah Hallelujah

To my disappointment, I find on the Googles that the songwriter himself has provided an explanation of the seeming nonsense lyrics, which turns out to be a call for revolt against the dictatorship. Whether or not it’s past facto, it’s plausible-looking: (Zavara = lavara, katra = katrami, nemia = anemisan, lama “blade”, nama = mana)

Pitch-black banners waving, pitch-black banners waving
Consequence Consequence

Pitch-black banners wave Mercy Mercy
Blade blade Mother Mother Waving
Consequence Consequence

And I have to say, it’s still disjoint enough to be not that much closer to lucidity. Everyone who quotes his explanation says sagely how obvious it is that he’s calling for a popular uprising. Maybe in Greek it is…

Doesn’t matter. The combination of the oracular music and Nikos Xilouris’ even more oracular vocals are meaning enough.

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