Long after the War was over: time to sing (together) again



Manos Hadjidakis writes in the bilingual pamphlet of ROMAN AGORA (c. 1985):



There is a story worth telling, since most of you will be hearing for the first time North Wind, South Wind. During the German occupation, we listened to a song that I, personally, found deeply moving: Lily Marlene. It was about a girl who every night visited the barracks, and everyone called her by her name. Until one evening the soldiers on leave couldn't find her anywhere. "Lily Marlene" had died. And the sorrowful soldiers sang her song, knowing they'll never see her again. I liked the song so much that I learned to play it on the piano, as though relating the girl's story. And everyone wanted to hear me play it, both my teachers and my friends. With my friend Yangos Aravantinos (who was sixteen at the time), the two of us enchanted by the voice of the girl who sang it, Lale Andersen, we decided to compose a Mediterranean song -- in answer to the northern Lily Marlene -- and give it to her to sing once the war was over. So we wrote North Wind, South Wind, exactly as you heard it on the ROMAN AGORA record. The war ended, and we forgot all about Lily Marlene and Lale Andersen. In 1961, when just about everyone was singing Never on Sunday, I received an official invitation from Frankfurt to receive the key of the city from the hands of the Mayor. I arrived on a four-engined plane, wintertime, at seven o'clock in the evening. Three thousand people turned out to meet me, a large band that played my song, and all European broadcasting stations. From the time I got off the plane, a smiling lady in a grey-white fur coat stood beside me, whom everyone addressed with respect.

At one point I heard a reporter asking her: "Ms. Andersen, after Lily Marlene was A Ship is Arriving (the title of the song in Germany) your greatest hit?" To which another added: "Was A Ship is Arriving your triumphant comeback?" I interrupted my conversation, and before the microphones of the broadcasting stations I asked her if she was Lale Andersen. "Of course, I am", she answered sweetly. And so I began telling her my wartime story. We became friends; she expressed the wish to sing my song, which was granted, earning her a second gold disc.

As I said, with Lale we became very good friends and traveled together on various occasions. In fact she came to Athens for a French television production to do with my life, and we were 'shot' together outside my old house in Manou Street, where I had first heard Lily Marlene.



Lily Marlene, apparently more of a love song then a war song -- so much so that Marlen Dietrich did dare sing it in Israel in 1960, and my late father used to sing it as well ("piso ap' to stratona, piso ap' to vouno, ena fanaraki fotizi to steno"), despite one year in the Nazi labor camps (and a freedom song he also used to sing)... Anyhow, below I cite Aravantinos's lyrics of North Wind, South Wind as translated into English (like Hadjidakis's text above) by Yannis Goumas:




My love, I looked for you

In every dawn and in the moonlight,

Blindly I looked for you

Up in the clouds.

But then came the time, came the rain

And your loveliness

My love, I looked for you

Because you were the sky.


And if God in His mercy

Created you

With a star in your hair

And with a heart of gold

In the fields grew tall

The golden wheat

And my love fell for you

Because you were the sky.


My love, I lost you

And my heart stood still,

The birds carried you off

In the torrential rain;

The south wind blew, the north wind blew,

Came a wave and swept you away;

My love I lost you

Because you were the sky.




Manos Hadjidakis and Lale Andersen

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