Wednesday, 4 April 2012

Psarantonis and the end of mythologised Greek singers

Last month, concert-goers in Athens threw yogurt and water over singer Giorgos Dalaras half way through a performance. They also shouted abuse at him, called him a traitor, a Pasok lackey and apologist, and branded him a prime representative of the system that has dragged Greece down to where it is at the moment. 

Now, the Greek yogurt and water throwing people are, of course, Syriza hooligans, who have been responsible for all sorts of violence and vandalism for decades and have significantly contributed to and exacerbated Greece’s decline. But I'm not interested in Syriza, even if their yogurt and water throwers may have a point about Dalaras, not so much that he is a Pasok lackey – he may well be (I, for one, however, greatly admired Dalaras’ efforts in the 1980s and 1990s to boost the morale of Greeks in Cyprus with some wonderful concerts and records) – but he was undoubtedly at the forefront of the tawdry cultural phenomenon in Greece in which singers were unnecessarily revered or ‘mythologised’.

In fact, this notion of ‘mythologised’ singers is not mine, but something I heard Photini Darra – a very talented singer of a new generation – refer to on NET news the other evening. Darra was saying that she hoped the era of the ‘mythologised’ singer in Greece was over. Anyway, this is just a preamble, which I wasn’t expecting to make, because what this post really wanted to draw attention to was a remarkable version of the demotic song Σαράντα παλικάρια, sung by Psarantonis, I came across recently; and what I wanted to point out is that Psarantonis is the antithesis of Dalaras (at his worst) and the mythologised Greek singers and no one would ever throw yogurt or water over him.

(Above is Psarantonis singing Σαράντα παλικάρια live, while below is an mp3 version with better sound).

Σαράντα παλικάρια, από την Λειβαδιά

Καλά και αρματωμένα, να πάνε στην κλεψιά

Στο δρόμο που πήγαιναν, γέροντα απαντούν

Ώρα καλή σου γέρο, καλώ στα τα παιδιά 

Που πατέ παλικάρια, που πατέ ορέ παιδιά 

Θα ΄ρθεις καημένε γέρο, να πάμε στην κλεψιά

Δεν ημπορώ παιδιά μου, γιατί είχω γεραθειά


Hermes said...

When asked about Turkish aggression over the Aegean, George Dalaras recently said that the fish should govern the Aegean. Essentially, he is renouncing Greek claims to a body of water that has always been fundamental to the existence of the Greek people. Regardless of what he done for Greek Cypriots in the 1980's, he deserves the yoghurt thrown at him recently. He is indicative of the corruption of the PASOK/SYRIZA governing class over the last 35 years.

John Akritas said...

Did he really say that about the fish and the Aegean? I missed that. He is Syriza/Pasok elite, so it's quite ironic that they're the ones who turned on him.

Hermes said...

John, here is an article with some of Dalaras's revolting statements:

And here is an article by Greek Cypriot Fanoula Argyrou:

You must also know about the scandal over those "free" Cyprus concerts?

I can also vouch for his greed and insensitivity when he visited Australia recently. He was sponsored by local community organisations (which are not for profit) and he demanded champagne and expensive hotels every night. Given that he has 4-5 villas on Antiparo you'd think he could pay out of his own pocket.

John Akritas said...

I remember Fanoula Argyrou banging on – very much on her own, and being derided for it too – about what a hypocrite and charlatan Dalaras was with his concerts for Cyprus; but it seems, after all, she was right. Those comments in Turkey are outrageous and sickening. My eyes have been opened. Photini Darra was doubly right about mythologised singers and I was doubly right to eulogise Psarantonis, who I hope does not have any skeletons in the cupboard.

tomouko said...

The Σαράντα Παλικάρια still chills my backbone and raises the hairs on the back of my neck. A stunningly stirring song.
I was always dismissive of the myth makers-for-profit brigade that comes with almost every singer in Greece and with every quasi celebrity around the planet. Never a critique of their voice or music or skill; always the myths around their lives and their oh, so benevolent morals! Zeus save me!
PASOK, like ND, is totally crap. Syriza is still worthy of attention. KKE's views are with some virtue but far too weak.
Greece's financial (and morale) woes are interminable; and these woes, alas, will be exploited by all the land and culture vultures around her. I hope she survives them all but I'm not sure. The planet has become borderless, thanks to the kleptokratic thugs who rule it.

John Akritas said...

I tell you, tomouko, Syriza is the worst of the bunch – and I'm someone who's inclined to take on board a lot of what the left says!

Psarantonis and Stelios Foustalieris are pretty much the only Greek singers I listen to nowadays. This is wonderful: