United Forever in Friendship and Labor
November 27, 2010 10:53 PM   Subscribe

The funny thing about the National Anthem of the Soviet Union is that through the sixty-so years of its existence the lyrics were written all by one man.

Yes. All three versions of it. Even the one that's for a country now named "Russia". (The main difference between the early and late version of it is ex-Stalination)

Sergey Mikhalkov was a remarkable man, but he was only a man. You must excuse him for not being able to translate his anthem into English or write ones for two nations like Mr. Tagore. And the music, originally meant as the Anthem of the Bolshevik Party by Alexander Alexandrov, was kept exactly the same, and Boris Yeltsin stopped singing it for ten years or so, but somehow I can't shake the feeling that Mikhalkov would not have gone to his grave unsatisfied.
posted by curuinor (21 comments total) 7 users marked this as a favorite
Purely on a musical level, I always liked this anthem. Very stirring.
posted by Cool Papa Bell at 11:02 PM on November 27, 2010 [1 favorite]

I felt a distinct urge to shovel more coal for the fatherland.
posted by joost de vries at 11:14 PM on November 27, 2010 [7 favorites]

The linked English version is sung by Paul Robeson. Which could be a post in and of itself.
posted by thecjm at 11:29 PM on November 27, 2010 [2 favorites]

His son is sort of a dick, though.
posted by cthuljew at 11:31 PM on November 27, 2010

He must be the man that arranges the blocks.
posted by b1tr0t at 7:34 AM on November 28

And you didn't link the video? Tease. Well, I'm not going to either. Even though it's awesome.
posted by Decani at 1:54 AM on November 28, 2010

That literally brought a tear to my eye. Thank you.

If I may be permitted a slightly off topic anecdote. My parents were communists and I was raised to be one too. But, capitalist lackey and running dog that I am, I changed my politics in my teens.

Still, I recall with great fondness my third birthday. I got a hammer and sickle decorated cake and the Paul Robeson version of the anthem was played several times. Best of all I got my own little black motorbike helmet.

I wore that helmet, along with a tiny black duffel coat, into my first placard waving charge against police lines at a demonstration a few weeks later. I was promptly scooped up and taken back to a safe spot behind the scrum, where I was questioned rather extensively about whether my parents were mean to me, and whether they fed me properly. Naturally enough I told the policewomen involved that I ate according to my needs.

I was ultimately reunited with my dad, who got a very stern talking to and (I assume) another black mark on his ASIO file. I don't think he really minded either of those.

For me, it was the proudest day of my life, and it started with this anthem. Thank you again.
posted by Ahab at 2:48 AM on November 28, 2010 [31 favorites]

And after sixty years the anthem was supplanted in 1993.
posted by joost de vries at 3:15 AM on November 28, 2010

Just for good measure.
posted by cthuljew at 3:28 AM on November 28, 2010

... the lyrics were written all by one man.

And that man was a pig, named Minimus.
posted by Slithy_Tove at 3:54 AM on November 28, 2010

I'm even fonder of Paul Robeson singing the Chinese National Anthem, Here's a longer version without visuals of Robeson singing but he also sings English lyrics (the video ends on a choral version).
posted by Kattullus at 5:09 AM on November 28, 2010 [2 favorites]

Kattullus, Robeson's Chinese National Anthem is such a find! His pronunciation isn't bad but the phrasing is definitely off. :)
posted by of strange foe at 5:40 AM on November 28, 2010

Workers of the world unite....you have just lost your jobs...but Monday is cyber Monday so
let us do our bit for mother and country.

This anthem like all anthems meant to stir the people to fight and die for their country, to remember that now we live in an age when State and not God is uppermost, and that it is Us against Them. We are to lose our individual Self and merge with the All of our Nation. Take off your hat, then, salute, stand up, let a tear dribble down your cheek, present your gun if you are in the military, and think of The Greater Good, while you lose perhaps life and limb for The Great Cause. Or if the tune is just being done out of habit, let the Game Begin.
posted by Postroad at 5:55 AM on November 28, 2010 [1 favorite]

it is Us against Them.

And all other countries are run by little girls.
posted by twoleftfeet at 6:01 AM on November 28, 2010

The Soviet national anthem is one of the greats, especially when sung by the Soviet Army Band. The Internationale is a wet noodle by comparison. As Postroad says, "Play Ball!"
posted by Faze at 6:24 AM on November 28, 2010

Incidentally, the account in Shostakovich's Testimony of how he almost convinced write Stalin to let him write the new anthem for the USSR in the middle of World War II is hilarious: "During the war, it was decided that the 'Internationale' was not fit to be the Soviet anthem. The words were deemed inappropriate, and really, words like 'no one will give us release - not God, not Tsar, not hero,' were wrong. Stalin was both god and tsar, so the words were ideologically impure. They wrote new lyrics: 'Stalin raised us' - you know he was a great gardener."
posted by Doktor Zed at 6:57 AM on November 28, 2010

My mom, who sacrificed enormously to bring me out of communism, came into my room one day when I was a high school student and heard me listening to this (I was curious) and FREAKED THE FUCK OUT.

She was like, "what... are... you... doing???"

I didn't even consider messing with her and telling her I was a communist.
posted by prefpara at 8:16 AM on November 28, 2010

Did somebody mention the Soviet national anthem?
posted by Tsuga at 8:58 AM on November 28, 2010 [1 favorite]

Faze: The Internationale is a wet noodle by comparison.

Let me respectfully disagree. The Internationale is the only, besides Le Marseillaise, song I know that has me at the brink of erecting barricades in the street by the end of it, even in the comparatively subdued version of Alastair Hulett and Jimmy Gregory.
posted by Kattullus at 9:56 AM on November 28, 2010 [1 favorite]

Wow, Paul Robeson is a totally interesting cat!

Heh - during my masters, my supervisor was an American who married a (Chinese) Canadian and practiced (medicine) in Canada; but was very capital-C Conservative. During one of those dreaded lulls in conversations at a Christmas party at his house after a "discussion" of the differential merits between the American and Canadian national anthems (and identity), I brought up that I really liked the musical qualities of the Soviet national anthem.

Which created an even longer, deader, and colder lull. And this was in fucking 2004, or so.

Luckily, I was kinda-sorta saved when the summer student eventually asked, "That's what the sailors were singing at the beginning of The Hunt for Red October, right?"

Then I think the conversation went onto how if my supervisor (purest windswept white) started saying how he'd still be where he was in life even if he had been born black and poor.

The totally left-wing Scottish post-doc (also with a Chinese-Canadian spouse) kept his mouth shut and his face artfully blank.


I'm surprised that I've never looked up the translation for the Russian national anthem, but now (from the English sung version link) that I've read it... I'm... very sympathetic. I love the Canadian national anthem, but there are definitely parts in it that make me cringe - "home and native land" (we were told in elementary school that we could substitute "chosen land," but I don't know how official that is), the "all thy sons command," and the "God" bits.
posted by porpoise at 8:02 PM on November 28, 2010

through the sixty-so years of its existence the lyrics were written all by one man
El-Registan would like a word with you.
posted by unliteral at 8:04 PM on November 28, 2010

I felt a distinct urge to shovel more coal for the fatherland.

Mother Russia is going to be disappointed. You should be shoveling coal for the Mother Motherland.
posted by kirkaracha at 7:45 AM on November 29, 2010 [1 favorite]

« Older 1. Evil. 2. ??? 3. PROFIT   |   Ni hao, Brute Newer »

This thread has been archived and is closed to new comments