From “Changes” to “White Roses”. Artemy Troitsky on the music with which the Soviet Union collapsed

From “Changes” to “White Roses”.  Artemy Troitsky on the music with which the Soviet Union collapsed

Under what music did the Soviet Union collapse? How dangerous is music in that country and can it affect the current country? Arseny Vesnin spoke with music critic Artemy Troitsky about what happened 30 years ago. Together they made a playlist of the most popular songs.

Among music lovers, there is a common argument that it was rock music that destroyed the Soviet Union. Or at least share. do you agree?

On the one hand, these are beautiful conversations and elegant theories, but on the other hand, there is a lot of fairness to them. Western rock had a very strong influence on Soviet youth in the 1960s and 1970s. The astonishing popularity of the Beatles, the Rolling Stones, Led Zeppelin, and Deep Purple drew millions, perhaps millions, perhaps tens of millions of Soviet youth into the orbit of Western culture. A culture that was partly anti-Soviet, but primarily not Soviet.

And since the guys sincerely loved and admired this music, this first of all led to the fact that their worldview largely rejected the various Soviet beliefs about the fact that Western culture is harmful, corrupt, decadent, etc. On the contrary, they saw this culture as fascinating, high, fun and exciting.

On the other hand, they saw how much more boring official Soviet culture became and, as they say now, sucked out of Western culture. And this is purely sentimental, I will not deal with the topic of ideology, anti-communism and anti-Sovietism here.

Most fans of Soviet rock music were not dissidents, did not think much about the problems of politics and ideology, but in purely emotional terms Western music to a large extent attracted Soviet youth to the Western side and, on the contrary, expelled them from official Soviet culture. It is certainly a mass phenomenon.

In the 80s, near the 90s, perhaps the situation has changed somewhat?

In the 80s, the situation slightly changed in the sense of the appearance of Russian-language rock, which appeared in the blink of an eye with the filming of the films “Time Machine”, “Aquarium”, “Kino”, “Alice” and “DDT”. , “Nautilus” etc. became very popular very quickly. But not at the expense of western rock – the popularity of western rock has remained consistent. Soviet music simply added to it and did not replace it.

It is important that, in contrast to Western rock, since the lyrics were understandable, Russian rock carried a certain semantic and ideological load, which was completely different from the official Soviet musical.

Before perestroika and glasnost, it was absolutely impossible to imagine that the song “Kino” about the slacker, the song “Aquarium” about Ivanov, or the “Nautilus” song “Farewell, America” could be heard on the radio or out on the records, because they do not quite represent The image of the young man, the builder of communism, which was actively repeated in the pre-Gorbachev era.

Spectators at a concert by the rock band Alyssa in Sochi on June 15, 1988. Photo: Carl de Keizer/Magnum Pictures/Forum

In addition to the fact that underground rock gave birth to a huge and underground recording industry, the so-called magnetizdat, this also played a huge role. But this is a phenomenon of the eighties, not the sixties and seventies, and therefore it can be said that during the years of perestroika Soviet rock became one of the main cultural beneficiaries of this new setting. Then dozens of underground rock bands from blacklists and from ban underground stormed stadiums. It was an amazing move.

Western rock remained in good shape, and the Western bands tour slowly began. Perhaps from the Youth and Student Festival in 1985, and then we go. In 1986, the British arrived – UB40, in 1987 – the American Billy Joel, and, starting from 1988-89, prominent foreign actors came in a stormy stream – there was Pink Floyd, and many, many others. These tours were a huge success and were done with a full house.

Did music participate in the collapse of the Soviet Union?

It’s hard for me to say. This in itself is a rhetorical question. There were various reasons for the collapse of both Soviet and Soviet ideology: economic as well as, as they want to say now, geopolitical, i.e. the war in Afghanistan and so on. The reasons were different, but I think that this old Soviet culture and the popularity of rock music, both Western and Soviet in the 80s (I emphasize this), also played a certain role, but it was not decisive.

Year 91. What is the most popular and most advanced music?

The music was very diverse and not necessarily sophisticated. It is possible that the peak of the popularity of domestic rock fell in the year 88-89. And here were the most popular groups … Without a doubt, No. 1 is the Kino group with Viktor Tsoi and in all the surrounding places of honor – DDT, Alisa and Aquarium.

But by the end of the ’80s, it was clear that people were exaggerating about rock music. The end of the eighties and the year 90-91 was the time when the widespread attack of the so-called pop music began. This is exactly the period when, along with Kino, the most popular band was Tender May, and this is really White Roses and completely different music. This isn’t rock ‘n’ roll, this is sentimental, primitive, without any fun dancer message.

People on the barricades at the White House. August 20, 1991. Photo: Georgy Pinkasov/Magnum Pictures/Forum

But of course no one ever performed “White Roses” on the barricades surrounding the White House. I was there all three August days, and they sang completely different songs there. They only sang “Kino”, “DDT” and “Nautilus”, sang “Everything Goes According to Plan” “Civil Defense” and sang long-forgotten songs, something about “tanks, punk soldiers sitting in them.” It rhymed “Bad tanks” are of great interest in those days.

The music at that time was very diverse – from Tinder May and Mirage to cinema and civil defense.

That is, the Soviet Union collapsed under Tsoi’s “changes” and under the “White Roses”?

You can say yes, yes. Well, let’s also not forget western rock. We have never had such a clear division of fan armies into Western music lovers and Russian music lovers. Most rock fans listened to both Nirvana and Kino at the same time. But maybe at that time in 90In 1991, the most popular western group was Depeche Mode. I heard the personal song of Jesus from every window. Then it was difficult to say who is more popular in the country – “Kino” or Depeche Mode. Both were in high demand.

In my opinion, music in the USSR played a huge role in the period from 1986 to 1988. It was the time of the absolute victory of Soviet rock, not only Russian, but also Ukrainian (“Screams Fedublyasova”, “Collective resident” etc.). In Estonia, they generally spoke of the “singing revolution”, and there were giant rock concerts and concerts that combined local Estonian rock with folk choral singing, and this had a distinctive national liberation character.

In Russia, almost all perestroika anthems of Gorbachev were rock songs, that is, again, the songs “Kino”, “Changes”, “Blood Type” and the song “Aquarium” “This train is on fire”, “Nautilus” “Tied in one chain” and “Khaki ball”.

Then the music played a big role. By 1991, this music had subsided somewhat. In part, this may be due to the fact that Bechlashev died, Tsoi died, and Mike had already been in twilight for several years. By 1991 Russian rocks were considerably weak. And I wouldn’t say that music played a prominent role during the August events.

I remember in Ukraine on the field There was a lot of music – from Okean Elzy to various small folk groups. There was a lot of creativity. What do you think, if it is time for a change in Russia, what kind of music will be played? In general, is this important?

barely. This requires some conditions that do not currently exist and may not exist. One circumstance is the actual role of music. The role of music has decreased significantly over the past twenty or thirty years.

In the sixties, seventies and eighties, music, especially rock, was an absolute cult of youth and the core of all cultural resistance.

Attitude to this music was as serious and reverent as possible. This is no more. That’s no longer the case in the ’90s, and I’m not talking about the 21st century. Music now occupies a modest place in the iconostasis of modern youth, and now social networks and all kinds of multimedia are more important for her. Music plays a certain role, but it is not a central, but an auxiliary one. This is reason #1.

Tsoi’s Wall in Moscow. August 15, 2010. Photo: Vladimir Astapkovich/TASS/Forum

And the second reason is that in both the West and Russia in the eighties – it happened, this is a mysterious and inexplicable phenomenon – it was this period that gave rise to a whole galaxy of wonderful talents. There were no other bands in the West like the Beatles, and musicians love them Jimi HendrixAnd poets like Jim Morrison, nor in Russia until the 80s of the last century there were such huge personalities as Tsoi, Bashlachev or Igor Letov. The big question is whether such numbers will appear in the future. I don’t think anyone can answer this question.

That is, the “changes” of Viktor Tsoi will still be heard at the protests?

Yes, because people like Tsui are born irregularly. And now there are very beautiful songs, but one thing is a good song and another thing is a great, great song.

interview done Arseny Vesnin

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