Sunday, August 6, 2017

Limeliters – "Those Were the Days" (1962)

Remember how we laughed away the hours
And dreamed of all the great things we would do?

Here’s Alexander Verlinsky’s 1926 recording of “Dorogoj dlinnoju,” which was Russian composer Boris Fomin’s most famous composition:

Sound familiar?

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In the early part of the 20th century, Russians went gaga over “Russian romance” songs.  

The songs of that genre seem to have had a lot in common with classic American country-western weepers – rarely do the lovers who are the subject of Russian romances live happily ever after.  (It’s not uncommon for one or both of those lovers to commit suicide.)

Perhaps the most popular of all Russian romances was “Dorogoj dlinnoju” – the title is usually translated as “Endless Road” – which was composed in 1924 by Boris Fomin.  

Boris Fomin
But Russian romances were pronounced “counter-revolutionary” a few years, and Fomin’s 400-odd songs were banned.  Decades passed before Russian singers could perform “Dorogoj dlinnoju” in public.

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Gene Raskin– who was born in the Bronx in 1909 – was something of a Renaissance man.

He earned his undergraduate and master’s degrees from Columbia University, and later became an adjunct professor of architecture there.  

In addition to being the author of three architecture books, he wrote a novel and two plays.

Raskin was also a folksinger – he and his wife performed as Gene & Francesca at the height of the Greenwich Village folk scene in the early sixties.  

Gene & Francesca
In 1962, he wrote new lyrics (in English) for Boris Fomin’s “Dorogoj dlinnoju,” which he had grown up listening to.  He then copyrighted not only the lyrics, but also the music – which wasn’t exactly kosher.  

In 1968, Mary Hopkin’s recording of the song became a big international hit.  We’ll learn all about Hopkin’s cover of “Those Were the Days” in the next 2 or 3 lines.

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The Limeliters, a very popular folk trio that was formed by Glenn Yarbrough, included the song on their 1962 album, Folk Matinee.  Here’s the Limeliters’ recording of “Those Were the Days”:

Click below to buy the song from Amazon:

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