The unbroken popularity in today’s Russia of Sergey Solovev’s 1987 cult film Assa and of its soundtrack, written by the best underground bands of that period is well attested by the following video on which old Udmurt women in folk costume sing the most beautiful song of the film, the City – in Udmurt language. I do not know whether its text matches the Russian original, but I hope that our Udmurt readers (who also perfectly know Hungarian) will send us both the Udmurt text and its translation so we can include it here.

Update: In the meantime István Kozmács has sent us the following transcription and translation of the Udmurt text. Thank you very much!

Лыз-лыз инбам улын
Вань паймымон дунне
Пытсаськисьтэм капкаосыз,
Яркыт кизилиез.

Выемын со дунне
Вож-вож садъёс пöлы.
Аддзылымтэ пöйшуръёсыз
Эркын ветло отын.

Огез джуась зарниен кисьтаське,
Мукетыз паймымон чебер адске.
Вадьсазы öрзи волъя бурдъёссэ,
Вунэтын уд быгат тон синъёссэ.

Со лыз-лыз инбамын
Яркыт кизилиез
Тынад луоз лулы мынам
Тынад вань даурлы

Ачиз кин яратэ – яратiсез шеде.
Чылкыт малпанъёсыд сюлмад –
Сайкыт лулыд тынад.

Огез джуась зарниен кисьтаське,
Мукетыз паймымон чебер адске.
Вадьсазы öрзи волъя бурдъёссэ,
Вунэтын уд быгат тон синъёссэ.
Under a blue-blue sky
there’s a wonderful world
with never closed door
with a shining star

This world is merged
between green-green gardens
never seen beasts
go freely there

One shines with living gold
the other is wonderful
an eagle opens its wings between them
you’ll never forget its eyes

On that blue-blue sky
that shining star
will be yours, my soul,
will be yours forever.

Who loves – will also find love
if your heart’s thoughts are clean
if you have a shining soul

One shines with living gold
the other is wonderful
an eagle opens its wings between them
you’ll never forget its eyes

Our Finno-Ugric relatives, the Udmurts live in the Udmurt Republic of Russia where they constitute about one third of the population (in 1917 they were still the majority against the Russian immigrants). Some twenty kilometers of Izhevsk, the chief town of the republic lays the village of Buranovo in whose community center the folk choir of elderly women, before performing their own Udmurt folk songs, first sing the City. “This song is about our village”, they say touchingly. But local teacher Olga Tuktareva, the youngest member of the choir also adds in her beautiful essay written on the group:

Когда Катяапайка. Наша самая дисциплинированная и немногословная Бабушка (она наш камертон и знаток всех наших текстов) услышала «Город Золотой», тихо сказала «Как молитва»… А позже я узнала, мелодия той песни аж 15 века!

When Katyaapaika (Aunt Katya), our most disciplined and most silent Granny – our tuning fork and guard of all our lyrics – heard the Golden City for the first time, she only told: “Like a prayer…” And I got to know only later that the melody comes from the 15th century.

We found the above video last autumn. Since then, however, the Buranovskie Babushky, the Grannies of Buranovo have gained nationwide fame. They were invited to the Russian preselection of Eurovision-2010 where they – as the Finno-Ugric blog MariUver proudly announces it – came third among the twenty-five participants, preceding even a number of popular pop singers. Their show included besides the Udmurt folk songs not only the City, but also Yesterday by the Beatles – in Udmurt language. “The Udmurt text is not an exact translation of the English original. It sets out from that, but it speaks about the singers’ own lives”, says Olga Tuktareva. The video clip of the song is composed of tableaus reminding of vintage photos, similarly to that of the ballad Cry Zara by the Serbian group Kulin Ban.

The Udmurt version of Yesterday was transcribed and translated by László Fejes, and first published on the Finno-Ugric blog Rénhírek, when this post was taken over there. From there we take it back now here, in the original post.

Куректон вужерен кадь
шобыртӥз монэ
Ӵук лысву кадь тöлӟемед бере
ортчем нунал кинлы кулэ?

Вылез вордӥське
вайыса мыным кайгу
Кыӵе тон кулэ мон валай
сое али гинэ

Ог нунал, асьмеос
вал ог нунал гинэ
улонэ, яратонэ но висёнэ
мынам тон мусое

Вылез вордӥське
вайыса мыным кайгу
Кыӵе тон кулэ мон валай
сое али гинэ

Мон шудо, мон шудо
валай толон гинэ
мон ӧй тоды, ӧй вала
кузьытсэ та улонлэсь туннэ

Вылез вордӥське
вайыса мыным кайгу
Кыӵе тон кулэ мон валай
сое али гинэ
Sorrow covers me
like a shadow.
After you disappeared as the morning dew
who should need the past day?

A new (day) is born
bringing sorrow to me.
Only now I understand
how much I need you

One day,
only one day
my life, my love, my pain,
you are mine, my dear

A new (day) is born
bringing sorrow to me.
Only now I understand
how much I need you

I am happy, I am happy
Only yesterday I understood
I had not known before
how bitter life would be today

A new (day) is born
bringing sorrow to me.
Only now I understand
how much I need you
my dear

The third song they performed besides the Udmurt folk songs was also composed by a character of Assa, Viktor Tsoi, a leading star of Soviet underground rock who wrote his The Star called Sun in the 80s, during the Soviet war in Afghanistan. Here follows his original performance of the song with his band Kino.

Белый снег, серый лед,
На растрескавшейся земле.
Одеялом лоскутным на ней –
Город в дорожной петле.
А над городом плывут облака,
Закрывая небесный свет.
А над городом – желтый дым,
Городу две тысячи лет,
Прожитых под светом Звезды
По имени Солнце…

И две тысячи лет – война,
Война без особых причин.
Война - дело молодых,
Лекарство против морщин.
Красная, красная кровь –
Через час уже просто земля,
Через два на ней цветы и трава,
Через три она снова жива
И согрета лучами Звезды
По имени Солнце…

И мы знаем, что так было всегда,
Что Судьбою больше любим,
Кто живет по законам другим
И кому умирать молодым.
Он не помнит слово “да” и слово “нет”,
Он не помнит ни чинов, ни имен.
И способен дотянуться до звезд,
Не считая, что это сон,
И упасть, опаленным Звездой
По имени Солнце…
White snow, gray ice
covers the cracked earth
like a patchwork quilt.
City in the road loop,
clouds floating above the city.
The heavenly light is closed off
yellow smoke all over the city
which has lived two thousand years
under the star
called Sun…

And two thousand years of war
without any special reason.
War – the matter of the youth,
the best medicine against wrinkles.
Red, red blood –
after one hour only earth
after two hours grass and flowers
after three hours life again
warmed by the star
called Sun…

And we know that it has always been
like this, that by Destiny we prefer
him who lives according to others’ laws
and who must die young.
He does not know “yes” and “no”,
he does not remember ranks and names
and he is ready to reach the stars,
knowing not that it is just a dream,
and then falls down, scorched by the star
called Sun…

“When I translated the song from Russian to Udmurt, I was worrying whether the Grannies would understand the metaphors”, says Olga Tuktareva in the report of the Russian TV1. “Of course we did”, they say beaming. “For this is our life. It sounds as if it was a folk song of ours.”

Viktor Tsoi: The Star called Sun, sung by the Buranovskie Babushki, with the scenes
of Fedor Bondarchuk’s epic film
9 рота (2005) on the war
of Afghanistan in the background.

Three stories from the essay of Olga Tuktareva. “When in 2009 we came to Moscow for the preselection of the Eurovision”, there was one thing the grannies wanted to see by all means: the mausoleum of Lenin. They had heard so much about it throughout all their lives but had never seen it. After the visit we went to light candles in the Cathedral of Christ the Savior, and there it turned out that it was the feast day of Christ’s Ascension. “You see, nothing happens by chance”, the grannies said.

Then we went to the GUM supermarket. We visited it as a museum. “What a surprise it was when some fashionably dressed salespersons – they called themselves managers – asked us: «The Buranovskie Babushki, personally?» I almost fell down flat from the surprise! Then they asked us to sing the song of Tsoi, but we felt that this place did not suit Tsoi, so we left in silence.” Granny Zoya, whose legs ached, remained at the entrance of the supermarket. When we returned to her, she was beaming with glory. She said that passers-by wanted to give her money, but she refused it with resolution: “I do not need your money!”

The dinner was paid by the TV, costs what it costs. The grannies were browsing the menu, but they found  the prices of 400 rubels (about ten euros) in the downtown restaurant
shockingly high. “Can you serve cooked  potatoes only?” they asked. They were served it, for 50 rubels (about 1 euro), accompanied with tea and bread for free. At the end of the dinner the grannies packed the remaining potatoes in their handkerchiefs. “They will be useful on the way back home”, they said.

„И когда говорят о славе, что она людей портит, то это к моим Бабушкам не относится. Они такие же остаются искренние, открытые, настоящие, живущие одной большой мечтой – чтоб в селе была церковь, как тогда в их далеком детстве, чтоб звенели колокола, чтоб шли отцы под ручку с детьми на воскресную службу, а не собирались возле магазина, надеясь на подачку. Чтоб на полях колосилась рожь, а не бурьян, чтоб люди пели, чтоб помнили о своем главном предназначении – быть лучше, чище и порядочнее по отношению к окружающему нас миру.”

“And when they say that glory bewilders people, this surely does not apply to our Grannies. They have remained the same straightforward, sincere, open and vivid, and they are fed by one great dream: that the village would have its own church as it had in their far away childhood, so bells would ring and fathers would go with their children to the service instead of standing about in front of the shop and waiting for some bargain price. That the fields would yield rye again instead of weed, that people would sing again, and that they would remember that their most important task is to become better and cleaner and to behave more respectfully towards the world surrounding us.”