Позабуду лагерные муки

An older documentary on Russian prison tattoos was posted on youtube in June 2012 and contains a musical sequence that will easily bring a sentimentalist to tears.

In the clip, the guitarist plays a version of a song that is either called Гитара Семиструнная ['7-String guitar'], or Здравствуй Мама (Разве не узнала….) ['Hello Mother (You really didn't recognize....?)'].

The only other version I can find online is a chanson-style recording by Петлюра, but the lyrics differ greatly. Here are the Petlyura lyrics: http://www.blat.dp.ua/bv3-4.htm
(the song may have been written by Михаил Круг, I really am quite confused).

Transcribing the prisoner’s version yields the following (English translation is in the clip above):

Не под звон гитары семиструнной
А под звон ключей у сторожей
Стоя у окошка, ночью лунной
Я прощался с матерью своей

Неужели Мама не узнала
Своего родимого сынка?
Молодым, меня ты провожала
А теперь встречаешь старика

Мне сказали, что зарыт землею
За Печорой, быстрою рекой
И старушка горько зарыдает
Обливая жгучую слезой

Не был, Мама, я зарыт землею
Но с землею крепко связан был
По глубоким шахтам и забоям
Много, Мама, горя пережил

Так налей же, Мама, больше водки
Водкою свою я грусть залью
Позабуду лагерные муки
И от счастья песни вам спою

Позабуду лагерные муки
От счастья песни вам спою

A photo album of Russian prisoner tattoo art was posted in this space less than two months ago:
http://oniondome.wordpress.com/2012/09/17/russian-prisoner-tattoo-art/

I think the logic of Воры в законе bears repeating: in the post-Soviet transition, when a highly atomized society emerged from totalitarianism, it is not surprising that the underlying order of thieves remained intact, as it had emerged in one arena beyond the Soviet ideological mission: within prison walls. There, it evolved organically, and hence it survived the collapse of inorganic state structures.

Finally, here is a site with a glossary of prison language (феня):
http://www.compromat.ru/page_24482.htm

The only of these terms that I hear regularly in Russian are бабки ['cash'] and шарашка ['disorder']. I might add that двустволка produced a few chuckles.

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One Response to Позабуду лагерные муки

  1. onion dome says:

    As a (cynical) friend says, ‘блатные песни – целый пласт русской культуры и подсознания’.

    More of this oeuvre (‘избитая тема про маму’):

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