The Volokh Conspiracy

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Ukraine War Music

"Oh How Good / Our Bad Life Was"—"That Era Is Over"

From a prominent Russian singer, apparently referring to pre-war Russia.


My favorite stanza, very loosely translated (I translate it more precisely below; note that the rhyme in the original, unsurprisingly, is much less banal):

Протянулась здесь на километры
С близкими невидимая нить,
А времени безжалостные ветры
Рвут всё то, что стоило ценить.

Over the many miles had stretched
The hidden thread connecting to our nearest,
But the winds of time, so pitiless
Now tear apart all that is dearest.

(Compare, from an earlier post, "*Every* bond between Ukrainians & Russians—familial, cultural, historical—is being broken.")

The song is "Trifles," by the band "Leningrad" (led by Sergey Shnurov); the video below has had nearly 1.5 million views since being posted two days ago.

Here's my loose and not-free-from-doubt translation:

We lived without working very hard,
The past is past, pardon me.
That, which in the past we counted horror—
Wasn't horror, but just crap.

All is known, of course, by comparison,
There's nothing on which we can ground ourselves.
We sent the young fools to fight a war,
Oh, sorry, the "special operation."

[Refrain:] Тhat era is over, my buddy said,
Life was so bad, but somehow pretty good.
[Female singer, singing in an upbeat pop style that strikes me as deliberately inapt for the words:] Oh how good,
Oh how good,
Oh how good,
Our bad life was.

The stars every New Year's
Used to make us crazy with their repetitiveness,
But if we look back on it today,
We wouldn't call that such a crime.

Into our brains the bullhorn blares the propaganda,
Whatever you turn on, you hear the savage roar,
On Instagram pages former call girls
Post pictures of corpses.


Over the kilometers had stretched
The invisible thread connecting to our nearest,
But time's pitiless winds
Tear apart all that's worth valuing.

The old apartment house, the city block
Where under the mat the key is always left
The bows that my daughter tied for her doll
The trifles that are precious to the heart.