RUSUK The Musical
Photograph of Dean Lewis

When we were talking about this week’s subject, I said the topic says more about the writer than it does about the country in question. Take my country America for example, I could say:

  1. Dust in The Wind, Kansas
  2. God Bless the USA, Lee Greenwood

I’ll not pick either of those, too simplistic and little more than propaganda.

I like Philadelphia Freedom but again that is a bit too one sided. And Sir Elton’s passport is the wrong color. It’s also true that Americans have been telling themselves the freedom myth so long, we believe it. We have laws on anything you can think of. The most libertarian country I have spent much time in is, ironically, Russia. Too much freedom is not a good thing but that’s a different blog. The more I think about this, the harder the question becomes.

Of the three of us, mine should be the easiest. Imagine Roger’s dilemma: Is the UK even A country? As an aside, I love the UK and I’m even a mild Royalist – again, different blog. But what the hell?

So next I went to my iTunes and found Old Town Road. This song, in my opinion, captures just how complex, fun, and messed up America really is.

I got the horses in the back

Horse tack is attached

Hat is matte black

Got the boots that’s black to match

Ridin’ on a horse, ha

You can whip your Porsche

I been in the valley

You ain’t been up off that porch, now

Old Town Road Album Cover
Old Town Road Album Cover

The song is sung by Lil Was X, an Urban/rap singer, and Billy Ray Cyrus of country music fame. Yep, one’s in his Porsche and the other one:

Cheated on my baby

You can go and ask her

My life is a movie

Bull ridin’ and boobies

An urban, country song; I think that sums up the “hold my beer” country I call home. As a bonus the chorus is:

Can’t nobody tell me nothin’

You can’t tell me nothin’

Can’t nobody tell me nothin’

You can’t tell me nothin’

Well hell, ya’ll, if that ain’t Merican, nothin’ is.
Yo, for you’uns from the wrong damn country, here, click this and smile:

Улетай / Fly Away

Our Rusuk Blog writer Sergey

This song’s title is translated as ‘Fly Away’ by a Russian folk rock band ‘Kalinov Most’. I am not a very big fan of any folk rock, including its Russian variation. Still, I kind of hooked up on this one. Suddenly. Years ago. 

It has everything that a good song has to offer: nice melody, decent vocals, a good arrangement, and finally, smart and poetic lyrics. You have to grow up to these lyrics in a way. As a journalist and a copywriter, I just admire this ancient art of weaving when it comes to the lyrics; it is deep inside, very out-of-the-earth and, at the same time, very simple. 

Here’s a part of the song in Russian – even translated, it won’t feel authentic and as poetic as it is, still…

Улетай первым проблеском солнца.
Улетай в гордый вызов орла.
Брось в огонь шелест в грубых ладонях.
Не догнать окриком тебя.

Без одежд, прямо к горным вершинам.
Без надежд возвращаться назад.
Пусть гроза прогремит твое имя!
И слеза вспомнит детская.

Без оков, рвешься облако пенить.
Далеко крики гнева слыхать.
Унесло вихрем в дальние звезды.
И молва перьями легла.

Забыть виска узор нет задора и силы.
Среди трясин и зол пенятся следы.
Кто завязал узлом горсть волос и жилы.
Проклял дым синий горький дым…

This one has even more: this is something that is very Russian. Beautiful but sad. Sad but hopeful. Hopeful but hopeless. Hopeless but promising… The Great Sorrow of Russia…

Imagine you’ve had some high hopes but didn’t succeed, and not because particularly you were bad in trying: it just went out of control. Such a thing is essentially Russian and is a part of the national mindset. 

Or you are freezing to death in a snowbound field in the night, amid winter, far away from any living soul, and only distant stars indifferently blinking from above… 

Or you’re riding a horse through the southern steppes, and the blinding sun is shining from the blue sky, and the soft wind brings flavors of grass and flowers…

This song also sounds very Russian musically, to me. 

To make a long story short, here is the video; it’s pretty outdated, back from 1995, but the sound and the mood are true. 

Which song best describes my country….

Roger Bara

It would have been easier if the title had been “Which Band best describes my country” – undoubtedly, I would have said “Dire Straits”, but sadly, that won’t count.

My country, the U.K., is in mortal decline. Run by a corrupt, tinpot, sleaze-bag bunch of charlatans, we have long since completely forgotten what or who we are, and what we stand for. The loss of faith in Britain, by the British, is now so pervasive that I reckon it cannot be rebuilt. It feels like there is no hope, only a future of stunning hopelessness, with its people facing years of austerity, continual rising costs, and an ever-lowering of living standards.

Yes, apart from the privileged few (the government and their cronies), the rest of the population are hurting – really hurting. And they will continue to hurt, badly.

Many years ago, I was introduced to a track from a band with which I was not familiar. The band was REM, and the track was ”Everybody Hurts”. It was my wife, Mrs B, who let me in on this. At the time, she was a director of one branch of the Samaritans, an organisation that listens to people who are at the end of their tether, people whose coping mechanisms are maybe not sufficient to ensure their survival.

She was organising a conference of Samaritan volunteers, and in writing a sketch showing how this amazing group can help people in huge distress, she included this music.

The lyrics tell of a need to hang on, every single one of us hurts at some time, and we can get through this together. 

The song has long since become a “classic”. But instead of relating to an individual, I now see it as relevant to an entire country. Sad.