Ukrainian War Diary (119): Songs of the Revolutions in the Humboldt Forum

I rarely take on DJ jobs these days. On the few occasions that I’ve djed over the past few months, I’ve found that it’s extremely difficult for me to spread a good mood like any good fellow DJ should. To spread something you have to have it, and if I put on music that suited my mood I can’t imagine people dancing to it – they’d rather run away in fear.

Nonetheless, I accepted as soon as I received the invitation from the Humboldt Forum. Because it’s an honor to be able to play in this space and also because it sounded exciting – a DJ set with revolution and protest songs for the weekend of democracy.

As someone who grew up in the Soviet Union, I can say that songs like this have stayed with me for years and some are stored on my brain’s hard drive forever. I may not remember the melody of the new Depeche Mode song I listened to just yesterday, but I would probably still play all the songs about the waving red flag, red October and young Lenin from beginning to end today end of being able to sing, even though I haven’t heard them in years.

As a child, it never occurred to me to ask questions. The fact that these songs were part of my childhood soundtrack and part of everyday life was something that came naturally and naturally. At the time, I imagined the brave revolutionaries of the early 20th century singing these heroic songs in chorus while fighting heroically against the Tsar and his army in the squares of Petrograd, and found out later that many of them only died after the October Revolution were written – by professional composers and poets.

It was only later that I realized how much damage and suffering the Russian Revolution had brought, also for Ukraine, and the more I found out, the stronger my anger and rejection grew. I wasn’t alone, I often found my feelings in the songs of the new, modern revolutionaries – the generation of rock musicians who didn’t seem afraid to sing their own protest songs. They, too, played their part in the collapse of the Soviet Union. It is all the more surprising to observe how some of them are either silent today or produce pro-Putinist propaganda. Even worse, sometimes they sing their old songs under the Z flags at folk festivals.

My perception of protest music has changed over the years and when I think of it now, the first thing that comes to mind is not the works of Soviet composers, but Pete Seeger and Joan Baez, but also MC5, Nina Simone, Bob Marley, Peter Tosh and the clash Or the Marseillaise in a reggae arrangement by Serge Gainsbourg. Or “Clandestino” by Manu Chao. Or Geoff Berner’s “Daloy Police”. I packed these and many other records and CDs for today’s set in the Humboldt Forum.

As I set up and put on the first songs, I keep in mind that the most current protest music today is made in Ukraine. Yes, the Ukrainian music history of the last ten years is protest music history! From the songs created during the Revolution of Dignity to the current ones, which are without exception resistance songs – written in the bomb shelters or in the trenches on the front lines, recorded between the blackouts and air raid alerts, I would classify them as the purest form of denote protest music.

Their creators don’t make any money from it, they have no opportunity to play lucrative concerts, their productions are not released by major record companies… And that’s why today, alongside “Guns Of Brixton” and “Get Up Stand Up”, “Oy u luzi chervona kalyna” and “russian War Ship, Go Fuck Yourself!”

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Source: Tagesspiegel

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