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Let It Be (A Song for My Birthday)

For my birthday this year I recorded at home Let It Be, the song that I have performed since I was 13.

Those who have been reading this blog for a while know that December 9th is my birthday. To mark the day this year, I recorded at home one of my favourite songs, Let It Be.

I have performed this song for as long as I remember myself. The first time it was at school, I sang it acapella in front of some 200 people, and it was a huge success: the guy who was the scare of the entire school followed me for a week begging to give him the chords and words.

A few years ago I “reunited” with this song but this time I was accompanied by a teenage band. I keep coming back to it, which is peculiar in a way because for a long time I was in love with John Lennon. But I ended up singing many of Paul McCartney’s songs.

So, happy birthday to me, and Let It Be!

Alexander Gradsky (1949-2021)

The Russian singer and songwriter, Alexander Gradsky, made an epoch in Russian rock music. He was aptly nicknamed The Voice by his friend.

The Russian singer and songwriter, Alexander Gradsky, made an epoch in Russian classical and rock music. He is considered a father-founder of the Russian rock. He sang at The Bolshoi Theatre and worked with such artists as Liza Minnelli and John Denver. He collaborated on films with Andrei Konchalovsky, Nikita Mikhalkov, and others. He taught at the Gnesin Music Academy, composed a rock opera Master and Margarita, and became the People’s Artist in 1999. He was officially married three times and had two children, and his last partner was 35 years younger, they also had two sons. He was single-minded, energetic, and ingenious. He was aptly nicknamed The Voice by his long-term friend, and indeed, in the last few years he was often on the panel of the Russian version of this famous musical show. And now he no longer is.

Alexander Borisovich Gradsky

There comes the time when you begin to assess your age and experience not only by events in your personal life, but by also people who “accompanied” you on your way and their work. Scientists, artists, actors, musicians, public figures – they all become a part of you. And when they go, which is inevitable, you feel bereft of something infinitely more important than you could even appreciate.

Alexander Gradsky – Caruso

The news state that in September this year Gradsky had a coronavirus (unconfirmed) but got over it and continued his work. He was again on the panel of The Voice, now in its 10th year. For the last episode of the show he arrived to the Ostankino TV centre in an ambulance and was clearly unwell but continued with his work. And then last night he had a cerebral infraction.

Alexander Gradsky – How Young We Were

Take time to listen to this powerful Voice in memory of this great man and a fantastic singer, composer, and performer.

Alexander Gradsky – Cinema

This video is an extract from a children’s animation, The Blue Puppy, about a little dog in search of friends. Thanks to an impressive vocal range, Gradsky sang several songs for this cartoon, but I chose the Song of a Sawfish that demonstrates the singer’s ability to perform comic, “character” songs.

Alexander Gradsky – The Song of a SawFish
Alexander Gradsky – Television Song

When the world is drowning in rap, it is sometimes hard to explain to the younger audiences what music is. Or what distinguishes poetry from writing rhymed texts. Or how to sing poetry. How to sing like Alexander Gradsky and Muslim Magomaev, or Ella Fitzgerald and Andy Williams. In terms of marketing, it is obviously easier if you belong to a “genre”. The flip side is such that you begin to practise your art like others practise accountancy. You work 9-to-5, write rap or novels with the same storyline, then your “other life” begins. Of course, one’s artistic potential depends on the degree of talent. The problem is that marketing turns a talent into mediocrity by making it “focus” on a single genre or style. And this is why the true Artist today is the proverbial avis rara (“a rare bird” (Lat.)).

But do you know what a huge advantage you have as the Artist? You always have a listener (a reader, a viewer). When he is a child, he listens to your children’s songs. A youth listens to your songs about other youths. Your music, books, films, songs accompany people on their entire way through life. Some come and go, but Artists stay.

Alexander Gradsky – The Southern Farewell

Of course, if the Artist leaves this world in the age of Ray Charles or Stephen Sondheim, you take it philosophically, especially if you have experienced the loss in your own life. But the younger the Artist, the more unfair is their exit in its untimeliness, especially with respect to their family, friends, and students. And it doesn’t matter how well you have learnt that everything happens at the right time…

Unofficial website

Website of Gradsky-Hall, the musical venue founded by the musician himself

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Phonat – Learn to Recycle

Back in 2009, I wrote a Skiddle review of the first album by this prodigious Italian composer. So, please welcome: Phonat – Learn to Recycle.

Phonat (Michele Balduzzi)

Back in 2009, I wrote a Skiddle review of the first album by this prodigious Italian composer. I’ve just rediscovered his awesome track, so I decided to share both the review and the album list and, of course, the track. So, please welcome: Phonat – Learn to Recycle.

The debut album by the prodigious Florentine Michele Balduzzi, Phonat, is a collection of 12 genre-spanning tracks. It boasts 80s-styled vocals, signature delayed intros, and a unique mix of dance and electronic music with rock-inspired guitar riffs. The album being released at the end of September, the Christmas club fame is practically guaranteed.

Continental European musicians somehow tend to be more universal and almost more innovative. Learn to Recycle should be the name and the homage to this ability to blend all the impossible trends together into something rather tasteful , to break the ground, and to overwhelm with the sheer passion for music.

Learn to Recycle is a six-minute masterclass in exploring the endless possibilities of playing the same routine in different styles. Yet this feat of a track doesn’t come until the second half of the album. The previous seven tracks are exquisite antipasti. Early songs, like A Warm Welcome and Get Down My Dirty Street, feature the signature delayed intro. Set Me Free and Ghetto Burning are praised for their vocal arrangements and collaboration with Yolanda. Ho Visto Un Quadro Verde reminds of soundtracks from 1970s Italian police dramas. Learn to Recycle draws the line under all the previous experiments by giving a complete piece of daring, experimental dance music. And, to judge by Zombie Army, Phonat’s got a good sense of humour.

Apart from his gigantic height and passion for music, Phonat’s biggest asset is the good taste. The album’s structure and contents only confirm it. Where another artist would fall into banality and repetition, Phonat always stops short and changes direction – just enough to make a critic gasp for breath. In the album’s last song he asks if his mother would get to listen to this album. Sure, she will, and she will be proud.

Score: 5/5.

Phonat – Learn to Recycle is at no. 8

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A Russian post

Raffaella Carra – Ballo Ballo

If you are in the mood for dancing, romancing, or trying to lose some Xmas kilos), do put Raffaella Carra Ballo Ballo on repeat – and enjoy!

Raffaella Carra – Ballo Ballo (a screenshot)

Dance while the music still goes on – we can all sing this ABBA song, for as long as the music plays, everything is possible. Yet tonight I want to bring you another dancing song, Raffaella Carra Ballo Ballo, the famous Italian singer and dancer. While most Italians went for dramatic performances where they mostly had to stand still – think of Milva, Mina, Mia, Patti Pravo and others, – donna Raffaella preferred the songs to which she could dance. And could she dance indeed! I’ve just tried to repeat the legs-and-arms sequence from this song, and it was no small feat! So… if you are in the mood for dancing (or romancing, or just trying to lose some Xmas kilos), do put Raffaella Carra Ballo Ballo on repeat – and enjoy!

PS – The Beatles fans will be pleased (or surprised) to hear a bit of Eleanor Rigby in the lead to the verse.

Official Twitter of Raffaella Carra

Other posts in Music and Raffaella Carra

Walking in the Biryulyovo Arboretum

Walking in the Biryolyovo Arboretum for the first time in winter brought lots of skiers, children and glorious snowed pine trees

I used to visit the famous Biryulyovo Arboretum in summer but never in spring, autumn or winter. But there’s always a space for a miracle! On January 2nd, 2021 I added some wintry views to my collection of photos! Join my walking in the alley of pines, which I renamed into The Trail of Smiling Pines (by analogy to The Trail of the Lonesome Pine film). I was walking in the Biryulyovo Arboretum from 1.30pm to 5.30pm. The last 2 videos were made at dusk, around 4pm, when I moved from the pine alley to that of deciduous trees. Then I made a very short video of a starting snowfall. It was magical walking in the Biryulyovo Arboretum in winter, and I hope you take time to walk there with me.

The summery view of the Biryulyovo Arboretum

Another post about the Biryulyovo Arboretum.

Sinatra And Crosby – Jingle Bells

Frank Sinatra and Bing Crosby recite Jingle Bells to music in a special performance for Happy Holidays from Bing and Frank.

A wintery streetlight shines the light on the new Christmas season (@Internet)

The magical time of the year has arrived, and finally, after two very English (=mild, rainy) winters we’re having a proper Russian one, with snow and temperatures below zero. Frank Sinatra and Bing Crosby Jingle Bells suit the weather perfectly, even though I cannot yet put my feet up and rest. Instead, may I remind you about the Xmas labels on this blog, which you might want to flick through:

2006 Xmas, 2008 Xmas, 2009 Xmas, 2010 Xmas, 2011 Xmas, 2012 Xmas, 2013 Xmas, 2018 Xmas, 2019 Xmas.

Xmas 2020 is going to tell about the holidays as they are being celebrated in Moscow this year. To put it officially, they are not being celebrated due to pandemics; instead, each of us is getting into festive mood by himself. This looks almost like what two great artists were doing in this video. So, let Xmas 2020 begin with Sinatra and Crosby Jingle Bells!

About Christmas Songs by Sinatra.

Poekhali by Yuri Gagarin To Become a Trademark

Poekhali (Let’s Go) by Yuri Gagarin to become a trademark, the press office of Roskosmos reports. Other historic signs have also been claimed.

Roscosmos has initiated the registration of several historic and seminal signs as trademarks “to protect the state corporation from unfair competition”. Poekhali by Yuri Gagarin is to become a trademark – the world-famous word he said on his first flight to space, which means “let’s go”.

Poekhali by Yuri Gagarin is known all over the world as the first words of a man in space. It is set to become a trademark if registered by Pospatent. Image credit: fortuna-2014.livejournal.com

As we’re waiting to hear about further details, here’s a song about Yuri Gagarin, Do You Know What Man He Was, sung by Yuri Gulyaev. The video is a collage of Gagarin’s photos.

Nine years ago, when the world celebrated the 50th anniversary of the first manned Earth orbit, Anton Agarkov paid a visit to the Star City and shared lots of photos that I also featured on my blog. Read the article. To commemorate the same event, Attic Room Productions have made The First Orbit movie that you can watch below. It reconstructs Gagarin’s historic flight and helps to relive his experience – now almost 60 years on.

More posts on Space.

The Mask as a Test on Inner Freedom

While others debate the effects of wearing a mask, I wonder if it is a test on one’s inner freedom

For the second day running one of Russian radio broadcasters, VestiFM, is discussing a truly vital question:

How to make citizens wear a mask?!

The question sounds crazy because “to make” is to force someone to do something against their will. In the days of “we shan’t be slaves” a mask is called nothing but a “muzzle”. According to this logic, the task is, more or less, to make the Russian citizens wear muzzles.

Dogs are shocked: people are wearing muzzles


Since March 2020, just as you, I have been reading various opinions of the doctors as to whether a mask protects you, and how well, and if the demand to wear it at all times is really justified, and whether this runs against the Constitution and the civil rights, etc. Likewise, I cannot doubt that the virus exists, and people fall ill, among them – my friends and their relavites.

Add to this numerous publications about the “Illuminati conspiracy”, and I suspect that someone really wants to see all the craziest forecasts come true so we can witness “apocalypse now”. You see, the TV passions are no longer exciting, but a live catastrophe is just the right thing!

You know what I think? I think that the virus, the pandemics, and all related restrictions run a check on the degree of our inner freedom. We may call it Jesuitism and abuse, or look for the culprits. Or we can admit that the most aggravated are those who are in no way responsible for their lives. For them, to wear a mask is not a measure to protect oneself and everyone around; it is a pain because the inner restrictions (which sees no-one but you) are now coupled with the outer.

Believe me, this is one’s personal choice. It has nothing to do with the circumstances, place-and-time, or the “wrong” head of state. This is one’s own fear: to fail, to take responsibility, to make a decision, to choose. It is far easier to find a scapegoat and send it off to the desert, so one can sit back and keep fearing.

William Holman Hunt, The Scapegoat (1854-1856, Manchester Art Gallery)

You may disagree and say that age is a factor, but let me disagree with you, too. Anxiety has nothing to do with age. It is a consequence of a person’s desire to control – especially if the object is out of one’s sphere of influence, in principle. Today we witness people who are ready to give their all just to prove that the mask is not necessary and can be done without.

A person who takes primary responsibility for their life is doing the following in the present conditions:

  • Seasonal prevention;
  • Wearing protective equipment;
  • Avoiding, if possible, busy places;
  • Looking after oneself, the near and dear, and friends.

And what do some people do instead? Anything, except looking after themselves. Still, if anyone is really awaiting the Doomsday, please remember the parable of the wise and foolish virgins (Matthew 25:1-13). Five wise virgins took with them the oil for lanterns, the foolish ones didn’t. Then the latter ran out of oil and couldn’t enter the Kingdom of Heaven.

The Parable of the wise and foolish maidens

To look after oneself and wear a mask in busy, crowded places is the task of the wise virgins. Yet Christianity respects one’s free will, so it is only a fine that can make “free citizens” wear masks. Meanwhile, my friend was attacked on the Moscow underground when one such citizen tried to rip the mask off her face.


One final thought, especially for those who love conspiracy theories. Suppose, all this is true: there is a conspiracy, the Masons and the Illuminati, the digital concentration camp, and so on. Suppose even you’ve had an epiphany, and now you are dead certain as to who is guilty of all this mess. To begin with, any such culprit is an illusion; the real masterminds remain behind the curtains, so you shouldn’t be too pleased with your guesses. Secondly, what’s next? Most likely, there’s nothing you can do. Are you planning to keep on living in spite of these terrible people’s ? Then remember that the main goal is to reduce the population of the Earth. Smart, free people are indispensable in the face of a pandemic: it is thanks to their irrepressible love of freedom and concern for others that the goal is achieved much easier.

Look after yourself. And use a mask.

The Russian original text

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