Singer, Sailor, Soldier, Spirit

Singer, Sailor, Soldier, Spirit
ALBUM
Singer, Sailor, Soldier, Spirit
Vadim Astrakhan
  • Artist:

    Vadim Astrakhan

  • Release Date:

    2008

BUY THIS ALBUM

Singer, Sailor, Soldier, Spirit

Recorded in May 2007 – January 2008 in six studios in Metro New York, primarily Polina Music studio.

Production, engineering, mix:  Polina Goudieva
Co-production:  Vadim Astrakhan
Mastering:  Dave Darlington

The album title is a reference to the English nursery rhyme, “Tinker, tailor, soldier, spy” (“Царь, царевич, король, королевич”), meant to celebrate Vysotsky’s unique manysidedness and versatility.

The CD is $15 US + $3 S&H, regardless of the quantity of discs that you order or your address, foreign or domestic. 

Songs:

THE ONE WHO WAS WITH HER BEFORE

That night at all I didn’t drink, I didn’t talk, I didn’t sing,
I was just watching her and sipping beer.
But the one who was with her before said “You’re heading out the door,”
He said: “You’re leaving now, for you there’s nothing here!”

And he, who was with her before, began to bully me some more.
But I ignored him.  I just ignored him.
When it was time for me to go, she said:  “You’re leaving?  No, no, no!”
“You aren’t leaving, no, no, no.  It’s still too early.”

But he, who was with her before, decided to engage in war:
He did remember me, yes, he remembered.
Once me and friend walk down the street.  Guess whom, with company, we meet?
Guess whom with company we meet?  Eight, altogether!

I didn’t run, I drew a knife.  You bastards won’t take my life!
We’re gonna make it!  We’ll make it through it!
For nothing I’m not gonna die.  I was the first to strike the guy,
I was the first to stab the guy.  I had to do it!

They charged ahead, they didn’t wait.  The fight was going all the way,
No chance to stop it.  No chance to cool it.
Somebody jumped me from behind.  I tried to reach him and struck blind
I tried to reach him and struck blind, but it was too late.

The cops appeared on their tail and they got hospitals in jail.
It was rewarding.  It was rewarding.
The surgeon cut me with both hands, he said:  “Hold on, bro, if you can,”
He said:  “Hold on, man, if you can,” and I was holding!

I left the hospital too late.  Regretfully, she didn’t wait.
But I forgive her.  There is no hating…
Of course, I let it go for her!  As for the one who was before,
As for the one who was before – I will be waiting!

 

THE CAB METER

He told me: “Fine.  But she is mine!”
You just don’t get it, man.  You just don’t get it!
Just let it go.  You’re drunk, you know,
Or you’ll regret it, man.  You will regret it!
But he just yelled:  “It’s all the same today!
Let’s catch a cab, the night is getting colder.
The meter’s ticking, but it’s OK.
We’re gonna pay up when the ride is over.”

I have no pity for this sort of men.
“Don’t push me, man, let go of that story!”
But he just talks and talks of her again.
Oh, you’ll be sorry, man, you will be sorry!
My blood then started boiling in my veins
Sometimes it does that, when I’m not quite sober.
I told him quietly:  “(You know) it’s OK.
You have to pay up when the ride is over.”

It’s gonna end.  Tonight it’s gonna end!
I want to fight, I’m full of pure hatred!
You want it, friend?  Or you don’t, friend?
You’re gonna pay for it, you’re gonna pay, friend!
Life is flashing in the windows of the cab.
I’m feeling high, I can’t get any lower!
The meter’s ticking, ticking, ticking, but it’s OK.
You’ll have to pay up when the ride is over!

 

SEVEN YEARS OF BLUE

You’ve left me – fine! I will not miss ya,
Pray I won’t see you again!
I’m off to goldmines in Siberia,
Riding on a prisoners’ train.

I know you won’t cry, won’t wait for me,
And you won’t miss me at all.
That’s OK with me, here for my country
I’m gonna be digging gold.

Don’t wait, I say, and don’t be dismayed,
Don’t waste your worries in vain.
Just remember:  god help you if one day
I will ever see you again!

It’s all over now.  No more clacking wheels,
As the railroad tracks disappear.
I can’t even howl out the pain I feel:
Tears are gone for (the) next seven years.

I will do my time, yes, I will endure,
And will come out free, just like that.
But I’m now inside, properly secured,
And I’m gonna try to forget.

Here are the storms and the blue winters,
I will live through them and through you.
Behind me – seven thousand kilometers,
And ahead – seven years of blue.

 

EVERYBODY’S GONE TO WAR

Every term is over nowdays,
And by the prison’s central door,
That is nailed and shut, the note says:
“Everybody’s gone to war.”

We are pardoned for our sins and crimes.
Cuz that’s the way our nation works:
When the Motherland falls on hard times,
Everybody goes to war!

It’s a good deal, if you’re loved by God
Each sentence year counts for four!
We’re (now) equal with our former guards:
Everybody’s off to war.

Our warden never had a heart,
Always arrogant and sore,
With his arrogance and soul cross-barred,
He was also sent to war.

And for that he wasn’t suited.
Not so brave without his goons!
One day he was executed
For a self-inflicted wound.

Afterwards, all scores were settled,
And rewards to us were tossed:
Those who stayed alive – the medals,
And those that died – the wooden cross.

And another wave of prisoners
Can read now by the doors
Our note, under glass preserved:
“Everybody’s gone to war.”

 

THE AIRFIGHT

It’s two versus eight; that’s the matchup we’re facing.
We’re given a bad hand to play.
Straight into the dogfight together we’re racing,
But chances are equal, I say!
I will not abandon this tiny sky square
The numbers mean nothing to me.
My friend’s got my back, so, to me, it’s all fair
The odds will get even, you’ll see.

The bandit’s on my tail!  Next moment he’s smoking.
Propellers howl and whine.
Hey, on their graves they will not need the crosses:
The crosses on wings will do fine!
I’m holding it steady, but they are below you…
I’m trying to intercept!
My friend, run for cover!  Hide in the clouds!
No miracles here to expect!

Your plane is on fire.  I know you’re praying
The parachute ropes are strong!
Too late, one more bandit is coming out at me.
Farewell, I will take him head on!
I know, our friends will avenge our death later
But over the clouds and the rain
Our souls are now flying, like two planes together.
We’re flying together again.

In heaven to angels we will not listen,
We know we must carry on.
And we’ll ask the Lord if we can be enlisted
In some sort of angel squadron!
The Father, the Son, and the Holiest Spirit
Will grant my desire, alright!
They will leave my comrade forever defending
My back, as in that final fight.

We’ll ask God for wings and we’ll ask him for arrows,
He could use an angel ace!
But if he has too many fighters, he’ll make us
The guardians, in this case!
To guard is just as important and noble,
To bring luck to those that dare
To carry on fighting, fighting the battles
On the ground and in the air!

 

WAR IN THE MOUNTAINS

By the glacier’s edge you walk the ground,
The vertical is promising adventures.
Mountains are breathing in the clouds,
Breathing out deadly avalanches!
Mountains are always on alert,
They will warn you when a threat approaches.
So to home, to safety you return
From the landslides and the gaping gorges.

Mountains now hear the falling shells.
Smoke is rising over hills and canyons.
Back then, it was hard for you to tell
Falling rocks apart from firing cannons!
If you ever called for help, the peaks
They would send your message with the eagles.
Winds would carry over mountain creeks
Cries of echo, like radio signals.

And when men were fighting on the cliffs,
Rocks they were lending you their shoulders.
By the snipers’ bullets you were missed,
Guarded and protected by the boulders!
If you’re weak, the mountains won’t help!
But to you they walk, not to Mohammed.
The rocks would soften, and the ice would melt,
And the fog would cushion up the summit.

But if you forever find your rest,
Mountains won’t leave you in the cold:
Your peace is guarded by their crests
Like the firmest tombstone in the world!

 

BALLAD OF THE HIGH JUMPER

I run, I push… and look for a place to hide.
I know again I failed to progress.
Two meters twelve.  I cannot beat this height!
The bar gets in the way of my success!

High jump is an interesting sport,
Illustrating the pro sports the best.
For a brief moment, you are on top,
And then down you fall very fast.

But from the forbidden tree I’ll eat the fruit.
I’ll catch the glory bird by the tail tonight.
Let everybody else jump off their left foot.
But my jumping foot is the right, right, right.

I run, I push.  But it’s not getting better.
Again, into the same old bar I bumped.
My coach called me up and said with anger:
“You keep forgetting this ain’t no long jump!”

“Your groin pull is making you flop!
Stop this nonsense and jump like the rest!
Otherwise, you will not reach the top
But instead you’ll go down very fast!”

But no matter how angry and upset I felt,
Still, to the coach I explained my plight:
“They all, they all are jumping off their left,
But I can only jump off my right, right, right.”

The run, the push.  Oh, that goddamn Canadian!
He tops “two-ten” and laughs at me, when flies.
And I just hit that old same “two-twelve” bar again,
And the coach told me straight into my eyes

That he will drown me in the lake!
It would be better off in the end!
So no one would make that mistake,
Jumping off of the right foot again!

But I would rather just commit suicide!
I’d do something nasty to myself!
But I will never switch from my wrong right
To the right one, the left, left, left.”

The fans began to boo, but I said “Oh well,
“Let’s see who is the last to laugh today!”
Here we go:  the run, the push, and now “two-twelve”
Is mine, and I have put this one away!

So what if my groin made me flop?
And so what if I am limping now?
But, still I have been at the top,
And nobody is pushing me down!

So from the forbidden tree I snatched that fruit
And caught the glory bird by the tail tonight.
Let them all jump with their left foot.
But my forever foot is the right, right, right!

 

FROM THE CYCLE: “LOVE & FAMILY AFFAIRS THROUGHOUT HISTORY”

I. CAVEMAN’S LOVE (STONE AGE)

Don’t touch the furs, I only have a few.
And give me back my stone battle mace!
Shut up, I don’t even notice you!
Sit down and clean up the fireplace!
Don’t worry about the petty things to save
You won’t have to, if you do the toil.
The stove’s dirty, and so is the cave.
Since Matriarchy, you’ve grown spoiled!

I do not care what you think!
I am the man, and with me you live!
So, let’s keep our relationship
Just the way it is – primitive!

They’ve killed a mammoth (and a big one too)
And now are giving everyone his share.
I cannot spend my whole life here with you,
I need to run immediately there!
The elders will be here any time.
Put on your skins when you are not alone.
Yes, it’s stone age, but that is still a crime!
I don’t want to see my woman stoned!

If I only had four more wives
I would end all this agony.
But, because of my lousy life,
I am forced to monogamy.

And all this loser family of yours!
My uncle, back when he was still alive,
Had cautioned me:  “Do not make matters worse!
“From cannibals, one shouldn’t take a wife.”
Community declares that you lie,
When sayin’ that some boys harassing you.
These boys, they are the future of the tribe.
Don’t go around slandering our youth!

I’m asking nicely, give me back my mace
And don’t you cry – I haven’t hit you yet!
Get dressed or neighbors will laugh in my face.
I count to three, and then I choke you dead!

 

II. KNIGHT’S TALE (MIDDLE AGES)

One hundred Saracens I killed to honor her!
One hundred deaths gone to the lady I adore!
But our king, deceitful sire,
Declared a tournament, that liar.
Kings of the world, to me, are rotten to the core!

Here is my opponent, the Royal Court’s First Knight.
The king has sent another one for me to fight.
But it is for her loving heart
My spear’s aiming so hard.
I don’t care for his royal tricks tonight.

A coat of arms is on his chest – a gallows pole
Like in a sunken ship there I’ll make a hole.
The king may be his dear friend,
But, anyway, I’ll kill him, and
Today about the king I don’t care at all.

The king proclaimed: “For him it’ll be an easy win!
“You rest in peace, my friend!” he added with a grin.
When I’ll die and rot in grave,
The king will wed my dear dame.
Oh, God forgive me, I despise the king!

The sign is given, and so we begin.
We charge our horses, and we’re closing in.
No helmets worn, it will do.
The king’s excited with the view,
But still today I don’t care for the king!

It’s over finally. The battlefield can rest.
His blood is spilled all over feather-grass.
The king’s as mad as one can be,
But now she belongs to me,
Today about the king I couldn’t care less!

No happy endings. Our love was betrayed.
The king has sent me on a Holy Land crusade.
Neither of us could do a thing:
We’re both vassals to the king…
For it’s too early not to care about kings!

 

III. LOVE IN THE AGE OF RENAISSANCE or THE REAL SECRET OF MONA LISA’S SMILE

After some drinks downed easily,
An artist, unknown and unpaid,
Found a palette, a easel,
And then decided to paint.

Now, another small matter:
A model is needed for that!
Here comes one!  Couldn’t be better:
Cute legs and a confident head!

So, he ran straight to this fairy:
“Hey, do you hear, what they say?
Dante, you know, Aligieri,
Goes down to hell every day.”

“To enter heaven is harder.
I do not need all that stress.
My name is, well, Leonardo.
So, hurry up and undress.”

“Don’t be afraid to remain nude:
I won’t offend you, no way.
Let me please, well, paint you!
Or mold you out of clay.”

But the proud woman said, laughing:
“Shame on you, sir, do you know,
I’m a good girl, a Catholic,
And, in simple words, no.”

“Some dirty fashion you’re preaching,
Straight into bed taking me.
Huh, Leonardo Da Vinci!
Some Raphael wannabe!”

“Always I despised the harlots.
Never you’ll strip me like that.
I don’t care if you’re an artist!
First, let’s get properly wed.”

“After the folk will have seen us
In church, I’ll strip, very well.
I don’t care if you’re a genius,
I ain’t stupid myself.”

“But I’m full of such inspiration,
Can’t turn away from your face!”
The artist cried in exultation.
Soon after, the wedding took place.

The girl that was clearly easy
I met in the midst of the night
It was, of course, Mona Lisa.
The one from the painting, alright.

To all her girlfriends in Naples
She bragged about her success:
“See, just like that, I’ve landed
A celebrity husband, no less!”

Over his work he then struggled,
Full of expression and joy.
His wife, that schemer, just chuckled:
“I got you now, silly boy.”

Such is the smile’s solution.
Let me re-state it again:
Women are always laughing
At simple-mindedness of men.

 

HEAVENBOUND (BALLAD OF THE GALLOWS FIELD)

Also inspired by “Ballad of the Reading Gaol” by Oscar Wilde, “Hallowed Be Thy Name” by Iron Maiden, “Last Rites” by Morgana Lefay, and “Painless” by Tarot

Once upon a time in a cold, dark land, since the day when he was born,
All his life a poor, poor lad walked barefoot on the thorns, the thorns…
Life of endless scorn he lived, more than he could bear.
As for the grief that he received – nothing can compare!
Drink the poison till you drown!  Good thing you won’t have to leave no tip!
The rope’s twisting, twisting down:  it will tie into a whip!

Loser walks around the world, his misfortune calling.
Life, it seems to pass him by, between his fingers rolling.
As for those walking ice so thin, their road is seasoned!
They are dragged by wicked winds to the chains and prisons!
And no mercy here is shown.  Tortures ripping off your flesh, your flesh!
The rope’s twisting, twisting down:  it will tie into a lash!

Ah, through this strange land I stride…  Entering, abandon hope!
Gallows Field is this land’s pride and the soapy rope.
And the Satan, Devil-in-Chief, laughs at people swinging.
Mother, why this endless grief?  No life for the living!
But don’t you cry and don’t howl!  They won’t pardon you for tears, no way.
The rope’s twisting, twisting down:  they will cut it off one day!

Thinking bitter thoughts tonight:  gallows waiting for me.
Cannot even have last rites:  hanging starts too early!
Missed the prayer?  No regret, no regret!  What am I delaying?
And the rope that I get has no knots, they’re saying!
So rest, ye, heaven-bound!  Until dawn you’re free to snooze!
The rope’s twisting, twisting down:  it will tie into a noose!

 

ROBIN HOOD

If they hunt for that rebellious and unruly head of yours
To make your neck at the gallows even thinner than it was.
You can find yourself a shelter in the woods; you won’t regret!
It is definitely better than the whip you always get!
All you paupers and you beggars, born to live the life of rats,
And the vagabonds and stragglers who have nothing but their debts.
If you find yourself in trouble, seek your freedom in the wood,
It’s the kingdom of the noble King of Rebels, ROBIN HOOD!

They’re happy with each other, not afraid of edgy jokes.
They accept and treat with honor all the crazy rough neck rogues.
Even knights sometimes are hiding in the forest for a time:
Those that aren’t law-abiding never have a silver dime!
Looking out for deer and merchants that may take the forest route.
They were slaves and they were servants, but free archers they are now.
Those who’ve lost all of their fortune, given shelter, given food.
On the forest path is walking King of Rebels, ROBIN HOOD!

So they live without a care and against all sheriff’s laws.
And they’re happy in their lair, with their arrows and their bows.
They’re sleeping barely covered, underneath the rustling trees.
By the cold they aren’t bothered, glad to be alive and free!
Yet at times they miss their homes, then the wistful mood prevails,
And they tighter grip their bows so in battle they won’t fail.
But tomorrow they will march – a mighty freemen’s brotherhood.
At their helm – the king of archers, King of Rebels, ROBIN HOOD!

(Even knights are hiding here, in the forest for a time
Those without reproach and fear never have a silver dime!)

 

CHILDREN OF BOOKS

In the safety of bedrooms, beneath candlelight,
In the world of war trophies and bonfires of peace,
Kids were living adventures, knowing no real fights.
Lived and languished their small tragedies.
Boys are always a lot burdened by their years,
And each other we fought, fought to scratches and tears,
But our mothers repaired our clothes in time.
While we stared and swallowed books, line by line.

We were enchanted with books casting their spell.
We were enamored with the magical age.
And our heads were spinning from the magical smell
When it carried the spirit of battle from every page!
We have never known wars, but we honestly tried,
Wielding our plastic swords, imitate battle cries,
Comprehend the commands and mysterious words:
“Charge” and “ambush” and “borders” and “war chariots.”

Boiling in cauldrons of history’s wars
There’s so much food to digest with our brains.
For the slots of traitors, deserters and other bad roles
We appointed our personal enemies in our games.
In the world of our games, villains weren’t let off.
And our beautiful dames we would swear to love.
And the weak we consoled and protected our friends,
And for heroes’ roles we appointed ourselves.

But inside the books one cannot eternally hide.
Plays don’t last, for there’s so much pain in this world.
Try unclenching the fist of a friend that just died,
And from the labored hand take the labored sword!
With your armor suit on and the blade in your hand,
What is right, what is wrong, you try to understand.
Try to learn who are you?  Born for battle or flight?
Feel the taste of the true and the ultimate fight.

And when by your side your comrade is killed.
And over this loss now you howl like a wolf.
And when you feel like you have been skinned,
Just because it is him who is dead – but not you!
That’s when you realize you now found your path
In the skulls without eyes – it’s the snarl of death!
Lie and evil, you see how cruel is their gaze!
And their road always leads to the crows and graves.

But if you’ve never eaten your food off a knife,
If you calmly observed from on high all your life,
If you didn’t challenge the wicked and wrong,
Then in real life you have never belonged!
But if you made your way with your father’s sword,
Taking heed what’s around you:  both tears and joy,
In the heat of the battle your lesson was learned,
Then you have read some valuable books as a boy!

 

THE SUBMARINE (Save Our Souls)

On recycled air
We’ve been for so long.
Our boat can stay there
For over a year,
And if we are cornered
The sirens will warn us:
The heat is now on!

The oxygen’s low.
We’re scraping for breath.
We can’t rise, we know.
We’re cruising below.
There is no escaping
Above us, it’s gaping:
The pronged silent death!

S. O. S., Save our souls!
We’re here, suffocating
For the rescue we’re waiting
Please save our lives!
Somebody, hear our calls!

But they are quickly fading
And terror’s mutilating
Us like a knife!

She cannot be captured
We all understand.
How crazy we must feel
Rise into the minefield
We all die tomorrow,
“Crash into the shore!” was
The captain’s command.

At dawn we will surface.
There’ll be no more games.
To die in our life’s prime
Is better in day time.
Our path is not mapped.
We’re trapped!  We’re trapped!
But remember our names!

S. O. S., Save our souls!
We’re here, suffocating.
For the rescue we’re waiting
Please save our lives!
Somebody, hear our calls!

But they are quickly fading
And terror’s penetrating
Us like a knife!

We finally surface
But no escape still!
Full speed at the docks!
The target is locked
All hopes can now flee us
Despair will lead us
As human torpedoes
We rush for the kill!

S. O. S., Save our souls!
We’re here, suffocating
For the rescue we’re waiting
Please save our lives!
Somebody, hear our calls!

But they are quickly fading
And terror’s mutilating
Us like a knife!
S. O. S., Save our souls!
…—…

 

THE FLIGHT ABORTED

Someone spotted an unripe fruit in a lot.
It fell down when they shook the tree.
Here’s a tale of a man who did not, did not
Finish singing, it was not to be, not to be.
Maybe he had some problems with fate, I don’t know.
And some issues with fortune and luck, at that.
But a metal string had a tiny flaw,
When he stretched it over the frets, the frets.
Then cautiously he played his note,
But didn’t finish it, did not…

His lonely chord has fallen flat, fallen flat.
Has not inspired or surprised.
The dog was barking and the cat
Was chasing mice.
A funny joke, indeed, but – my oh my! –
Haven’t gotten to the funny part!
He didn’t finish tasting wine, his wine.
In fact, he didn’t even start!

He was preparing the debate, the debate,
Checking the argument for holes, for holes,
And out of the pores like sweat, like sweat,
He was oozing the droplets of soul, his soul!
On the floor he barely began the duel,
In the very beginning of the first round,
In the game he barely learned the rules,
And the ref hasn’t opened the count!
He wanted to learn what is what,
But didn’t get to it, did not!

Did not discover mysteries unknown:
The bottom of the sea and skies above.
The girl who’s always alone, alone
He hasn’t loved, he hasn’t loved, he hasn’t loved, he hasn’t loved!
A funny tale, indeed, but – my oh my! –
He raced and hurried through the world!
The problems he could not resolve in time
Remained forever unresolved!

I never lie, not in a single word.
He was a servant of the purest verse.
He wrote the poems on the snow for her.
It’s a pity that snow it melts, of course!
But it was snowing heavily on that day,
And the freedom to write was still his!
And the largest snowflakes, snowflakes
He’d grab on the run with his lips!
And in the shiny car he bought
He didn’t ride with her, did not!
He didn’t cross the finish line, the line!
He didn’t reach, he didn’t reach, did not attain!
And Taurus, his Zodiac sign,
Was lapping up the Milky Way…

A funny thing, indeed, a funny thing,
When you’re falling, seconds short!
When you missed by a missing link!
And you abort, and you abort, and you abort!
A funny joke – hey, you all!
Now you can laugh… and I can laugh.
A racing horse, a bird in flight, may fall.
But who is left?  But who is left?  But who is left?

(Now you can laugh!  I’ll do the same!
But who’s to blame?  But who’s to blame?)

 

SHIPS

Ships they rest for a while and then set on their course,
But they always come back.  Any storm they can bear.
Half a year goes by, and then I return,
Just to leave once again, just to leave once again, for another half a year.
Half a year will pass and I will return,
Just to leave once again, just to leave once again, for another half a year.

Everybody returns.  Everyone in the fleet.
Everyone but the best friends and most loyal women!
Everybody comes back.  Except those we need.
Destiny I don’t trust, and myself I don’t trust, as it’s common for seamen.
Everybody comes back.  But the people we need.
Destiny I don’t trust, and myself I don’t trust, as it’s common for seamen.

But I want to believe that it’s not a trend:
Old ships are never burned but are always spared.
I will surely return, full of plans, full of friends.
I will surely sing, I will surely sing, after less than half a year.
One day I will return, full of dreams, full of friends.
I will sing once again, I will sing once again, after less than half a year.

 

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Vadim Astrakhan Album

Vadim Astrakhan - Be Grateful You're Alive

Two Fates
ALBUM
Two Fates
Vadim Astrakhan
Vadim Astrakhan Album

Vadim Astrakhan - Race to the Horizon

Studio Outtakes, Rarities, & Live Cuts
ALBUM
Studio Outtakes, Rarities, & Live Cuts
Vadim Astrakhan
Vadim Astrakhan Album

Vadim Astrakhan - Minds Upside Down