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Zemfira, spid & the Russian soul quiz October 12, 2006

Posted by BiB in Uncategorized.
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Darlings, a quiz, from which Russian-speakers must, unfortunately, be excluded. Now, watch this video, from Russian pop queen Zemfira, carefully making sure not to look at any of the comments that other youtubers have left, if they appear, and then tell me what the song is about. You can be as loquacious or laconic as you like. The song title is one word. Your answers could also be. My only clue is listen to the joyous chorus:

U tebia spid, doo-doo-be-doo, i znachit my umrёm,
U tebia spid, doo-doo-be-doo, i znachit my umrёm,
U tebia spi-i-id, i znachit my umrёm
…and so on.

I’ll reveal the answer, and give a translation, when my ego feels satisfied by the number of reactions.

*Where the mystery is solved*
OK, so my ego has been gently massaged, and as I’m sure perhaps half the world’s population is on tenterhooks, desperate to know what Zemfira’s little old song is about, I feel obliged to end the suspense.
Well, spid, the title of the song, means AIDS. And that jolly old chorus: “U tebia spid, doo-doo-be-doo, i znachit my umrёm, U tebia spid, doo-doo-be-doo, i znachit my umrёm, U tebia spi-i-id, i znachit my umrёm” means, “You’ve got AIDS (doo-doo-be-doo) and so we’re going to die … You’ve got AI-AI-AIDS and so we’re going to die.”
Someone in Russia – a French person, not a Russian – tried to convince me it was a great love song. That Zemfira was willing to die along with her beaidsed lover. It was the ultimate ‘gage d’amour’. I asked many a Russian too, “What does this song MEAN? What is Zemfira saying?” The answer normally came with fairly short shrift. “BiB, it means they have AIDS and will die.”
Do folk agree it’s a fucking odd song?

Comments»

1. BiB - October 12, 2006

It’s a jolly old ditty, isn’t it? But we mustn’t reveal to the non-Russophones the secret of its message. Not just yet. Flipping blogger. I forgot you now need to give your password 80 times for every transaction, so uploaded the bastard from youtube and then sat waiting for it to appear. And it didn’t, of course, because I had to go and bepassword myself chez blogger. All those valuable hours wasted!

By the way, I can’t comment on your blog, which I’ve been trying to do like mad. I think the problem’s with me, not you. Or have others told you the same thing?

2. pdberger - October 12, 2006

Dezik, this is fantastic!

I can just imagine bopping away to it at the local disco.

What a joyous celebration of youth…

3. lukeski - October 12, 2006

Bliss. Reliving parts of my youth. And in certain photos she is one of the most attractive women on the planet, then in others far from it. God, I am so shallow.

4. BiB - October 12, 2006

There are rumours of Zemfira’s lezzertude in some quarters, Liukchik, I must warn you, so don’t get your hopes up. Mind you, a gent I know is convinced he could turn Martina Navratilova het, such are his charms. So there is hope for us all. I plan to have my wicked way with Frédéric Deltour before my days are up. (Just visited that death-date site. Apparently, I’m not long for this world.)

5. David (TEFL Smiler) - October 13, 2006

With “i znachit my umrёm”, it must be about taking the piss, right? ;-)

6. BiB - October 13, 2006

David, tusen takk (or summat like that) for the first guess… but it isn’t about taking the piss.

Mr. pdberger’s wife’s a Dane. I think you might even be in her neck of the woods, though I might have made that up.

7. Bren - October 13, 2006

Hi Bib. I’ve no idea, except to say that my long experience in Israel, with all the Ruskies that live there, showed me long ago that Russian music is shit. This music is a confirmation. Indeed, the video that goes with the music is unexpected in its quality of shit.

Or maybe the beauty of Rusky music (?) comes alive when one knows Rusky?

8. Blonde at Heart - October 13, 2006

I have no idea. Freedom? Childhood memories?

(Mind I am the first actually to propose an answer).

9. taigathefox - October 13, 2006

I’ve got a Russian dog and know five Russian words, so I’ll say it’s something about dying.

10. rupert - October 13, 2006

ummm… she’s in a cage in a church (a bit like Khodorkovsky’s – church/courthouse, same thing, innit?), she’s trapped in a wedding dress, bleeds crude oil then does a runner – it’s a cutting indictment of Putin’s Russia, disguised as a naff ballad. Not sure who the white feathers refer to – the cowardice of the cameramen/media?

11. BiB - October 13, 2006

Just when I click on the final button, nothing happens. But there’s that eye with a stop sign in front of it at the bottom of the screen when I open your site, but that’s there when I read this site too, so dunno what that signifies. Must be something to do with security settings…

Got your mail. Will answer immediately!

12. BiB - October 13, 2006

Bren, where is your Russian soul? Though perhaps you’re right that a knowledge of the lingo makes the music better. Although, in the case of this song, that may not necessarily be the case, depending on your interpretation. Actually, old Zemf has some not bad ditties. And I’m now haunted by the thought that Israel must be awash with Alla Pugacheva CDs.

BAH, well, all the Russians in Israel have given you a hint more of a Russian soul than Bren, but, unfortunately, the song’s not about freedom and childhood memories.

Taiga, perkele, the proximity of the Russian border AND a Russian dog put you in the lead, so far, Russian-soul wise. That’s a very good guess, and you’re certainly not far off the mark, but it’s not quite the answer I’m looking for.

Rupert, hello and welcome to la maison de BiB. You’ve uncovered the secret political subtext, but I have to disappoint you as far as the answer I’m looking for goes, I’m afraid. Yes, bleeding oil is decidedly odd. Even knowing what the song is about, I haven’t got to the bottom of the feathers either.

13. leon - October 13, 2006

I was recently bought a book and accompanying album of Russian songs, so I’m currently plodding my way through such timeless classics as Milenkiy ti moy (both parts) and Katyusha.

Didn’t have Zemlyanka in it, though. I quite fancy learning to sing that.

14. BiB - October 13, 2006

Katyusha is in my repertoire when I’m extremely drunk having had half a sniff of vodka. Along with a Polish song about there being lots of pretty girls, but they’re all in Ukraine. The milenkiy one reminds me of grim parties in my kitchen in St. Petersburg. I don’t know Zemlyanka. For a sec, I thought you’d written zemlyanika, which means wild strawberry.

15. pdberger - October 13, 2006

Hi Des

What’s your problem commenting on my blog?

And did you get the email I sent yesterday?

It seems we are having communication difficulties–a bit like this music video.

16. Mark Holland - October 13, 2006

It’s jolly enough. No idea as to what it’s about of course.

17. BiB - October 13, 2006

It’s perhaps jollier than it ought to be, given the subject matter, but then who are we to fathom the depths of the mystery of the Russian soul?

18. Mangonel - October 13, 2006

OK. It is about a girl who really really doesn’t want to celebrate her wedding in a leaky cage with only a mad nine-year-old bridesmaid and a homicidal husband for company. So he says OK, lets her out then runs after her and pulls her over a cliff into the raging sea. THE END.

And all without looking at any previous posts. Ta-daaah!

19. Mangonel - October 13, 2006

Oh bloody hell, rupert got there not only first but much cleverer than me. Bah.

20. BiB - October 13, 2006

Gosh, Mangonel, I think you’ve watched the video more thoroughly than I have. Well, in view of what she’s singing about, and the way she sings it, perhaps she didn’t want to get married, but I’m afraid I still have to say the answer isn’t quite close enough. Alas…

21. lukeski - October 15, 2006

So, when will you tell us what it means?

22. Mangonel - October 16, 2006

ARGH! I can’t bear it any longer. Far be it for me to comment on the size of your *ahem* EGO, but it has to be bloody enormous to withstand this sort of pressure. OK, here goes
She’s not a bride, she’s a patient in a mental institution (from the decor, one of the more upscale ones) in a strangely unstraitening straijacket. She gets pushed over the cliff by a homicidal MALE NURSE. The little girl is her younger self, weeping for her own destiny.
No, she is from some dirt-poor region and has taken a job as au-pair to a recent widower living in le dernier cri of a Muscovite attic conversion and his small daughter. He turns out to be homicidal and pushes her over a cliff. While she claims to be the real mother of the small girl.
NO. she’s a prostitute hired by a pimp to train his latest protege in the ways of catering to certain – special – tastes. She decides not to be party to a young girl’s ruin (I expect she sees her younger self in the girl’s eyes) and gets pushed over a cliff by the (unexpectedly homicidal) pimp.
NO no how about this. This is a Russian reworking of Jane Eyre where Jane and Bertha turn out to be THE SAME PERSON. Jane is so shamed that her secret is out she actually jumps off a cliff. That way I don’t have to type ‘homicidal’ again. Oh Bugger.
OK I’m done. Any closer?

23. Anonymous - October 16, 2006

The price of modern celebrity. The wee girl is you, the fan – naïve yet guilty. Maybe some kind of parallel between becoming a nun (marrying the Church) and being a celebrity (married to the demands of the camera, loss of other relationships).

But good for Zemfira, she’s rejecting the shallow rewards of a bit of confetti. Not exactly sure what she’s going to do when she reaches the coast tho… jump in?

Oh, the exquisite pain of it all!

24. leon - October 16, 2006

Zemlyanka‘s the one about being in a bunker two steps from death, or five steps from death, or something. Good solid Red Army fare.

25. BiB - October 16, 2006

Leon, more sterling stuff over at your place. And your place really is the best-looking site on the net, and to think you talk of redesigns! Every moment spent there is a moment of pleasure. And now that there’s even swinging in there… Well, what more could a reader ask for?

Luke, Mangonel, Anonymous, well, I’ve revealed the true meaning now. But bloody good efforts from you there. Mangonel, I think you might be on to something with the little girl being her younger self. Do a PhD on it now!

26. Mangonel - October 17, 2006

You know, that is such a pain because that was the very next thing I was going to guess.

27. Welshy - October 17, 2006

I don’t like that song. It is mean. (I have, however, come in way too late to contribute to this most excellent challenge so I am really just sulking).

28. Bowleserised - October 19, 2006

I have a friend called Spid. I wonder if she knows about the Russian thing.

29. Wyndham - October 20, 2006

What ho, Bib, isn’t it about time you blogged?

30. Mangonel - October 22, 2006

Yes, where are you?

31. BiB - October 24, 2006

Mangonel, sorry to have thwarted your attempts at glory!

Welshy, yes, I’m yet to fall for the interpretation that it’s all secretly a very lovely and romantic love-song. Although old Zemf is known for not singing the dimmest songs on the planet.

B., is your friend’s name pronounced speed, as Russian spid is (sort of)? Certainly warn her if she plans to embark on a trip to the former SU.

Wynders, I think the moral of the story is not to blog youtube videos of Russian pop-stars. It sent me into blogging meltdown. Note to self made and kept in safe place.

32. Loganoc - October 24, 2006

She really really fucking scares me. Freak-woman.

I love the russian melancholy spirit.

33. BiB - October 24, 2006

Loganoc, hello! I’m just about to watch you on video. (Am downloading it, as the youtube version has evaporated.)

Old Zemf has some nice-enough, tuneful songs, but I think I need to get Russian pop out of my life. I’m convinced she almost ruined my blogging career!

34. Kevin - June 9, 2008

Surely it is about the disease. It is a song about escape from society, from mama, from the neighbours, from the prison cell of conformity. And it’s a song about defiance. Weh Hey!

35. BiB - June 11, 2008

Ooh, hello Kevin. Didn’t expect to be all the way back here after so long. But, well, who knows? Perhaps you’re right. Maybe it is a jolly and defiant song after all and I shouldn’t have judged Zemfira too hastily.


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