It’s my own guilty pleasure to re-write my will every now and then. Nothing much to say in it actually, but nevertheless, music is an important part of it. One track that is in it for years now: ‘The Carnival Is Over’ performed by Nick Cave and his Bad Seeds back in 1986 on their ‘Kicking Against The Pricks’ album with only covers on it. A rather dull and annoying song in itself, but what Cave and companion Blixa Bargeld made out of it sounds as the most beautiful and thrilling Goodbye to me.
The original of the song (and we’re going to do a little Blokhuisje now – Dutch readers know what I mean) goes way back in time. Most people know this track as performed by The Seekers in 1965. Tom Springfield (yes, Dusty’s brother) wrote the lyrics for them. At the label also credits for Frank Farian, a German producer who wasn’t the most original man in musicbizz, so a bit of suspicion is allowed here. This Seekers’ song was covered very often, but was ‘The Carnival Is Over’ an original in itself? The answer: no. In fact the track goes back to 1826 when Hector Berlioz used a piece of an old Russian traditional in the ouverture of his opera ‘Les Francs-juges‘. Later on this evolved in a Russian folksong titled ‘Stenka Rasin’, that was recorded by several orchestras and artists under all kind of different titles.

One of those performers is – and now we’re getting close, finally this is a blog about French music – Charles Aznavour & les Compagnons de la Chanson, who recorded it as ‘(La Légende de) Stenka Razine’ in 1951. Not half as stunning and touching as Cave did, but French it is.

Nick Cave & The Bad Seeds – The Carnival Is Over
Charles Aznavour & les Compagnons de la Chanson – (La Légende de) Stenka Razine

This article has 3 comments

  1. Jan Willem

    Sorry, can’t help you out. It’s an old campfire song I used to sing as a sea scout. The title and opening line is ‘Aan de oever van de Rotte’. Wiki explanation in Dutch here.

  2. guuzbourg

    Really? By whom is that? Can we put the mp3 up?

  3. Jan Willem

    On this Dutch-made site about French music, it may be appropriate to point out that there exists a Dutch-language version of this song about some frogs (!) discussing the meanness of the stork on the banks of the river Rotte (near Rotterdam).