Maritsa’s Songs


Commentary by Pavlos Andronikos


Η τσιγγάνα η Μαρίτσα [Maritsa the Gypsy]

My mother bought the 45rpm single of “Η τσιγγάνα η Μαρίτσα” soon after it was released in 1960-1. It has been a favourite song ever since, both for her and the rest of the family. Of course, mum loved it partly because it featured her name, but the song and recording are so good that it would have been a favourite anyway.

Mum was good at picking out songs that would stand the test of time. Every so often she would make her way from Elephant and Castle to a record shop in north London with us the children in tow. There the shopowner would play the latest Greek singles one after the other, and mum would decide which she wanted. It was a bit like watching Juke Box Jury: “I’ll buy it, and I’ll give it 10!”


Τα δειλινά [The Evenings]

It broke my heart when I saw that mum had written out the words to this song in her notebooks twice. It’s a song which tugs at the heart-strings anyway...

Έφυγες και πήγες μακριά,
σύννεφα σκεπάσαν την καρδιά,
σβήσαν απ’ τα χείλη τα τραγούδια,
γύρω μαραθήκαν τα λουλούδια.
Και τα δειλινά
μια φωνή μού ψιθυρίζει μυστικά
δεν θα γυρίσεις πια.

You left and went far away,
clouds covered my heart,
the songs faded from my lips,
around me the flowers wilted.
And in the evenings
a voice secretly whispers to me
that you won’t be coming back.


Η ζητιάνα [The Beggarwoman]

According to my aunt Doulla, there was a time in mum’s life, just before she migrated to London, when she would play this song over and over and weep.


Πέρα στους πέρα κάμπους [There in the Yonder Plains]

This is one of the songs I learnt “on my mother’s knee”. We didn’t have a record of it but mum would often sing it to us.


Στο πάνω, μάνα, το χωριό [In the upper part of the village, mother]

This Cypriot folk song is another of the songs I learnt directly from my mother. She loved to sing. I did too, from a young age.


Από ξένο τόπο [From Foreign Parts]

This is my favourite of the folk songs mum used to sing to us. It has such a lovely tune. Katerina Papadopoulou sings it beautifully.


Μυρτιά [Myrtle]

After mum’s last stroke, when she was bedridden and unable to speak, I played songs to her in the hope that I could reach her through them. When this song was playing she suddenly opened her eyes as if startled and looked searchingly around. I think it may have been the line: “Πού θα βρω χώμα και νερό να ξαναχτίσω μια φωλιά για της αγάπης τα πουλιά;” [“Where will I find earth and water to build again a nest for the birds of love?”] which triggered her response.

We grew up with the classic songs of Mikis Theodorakis. They were as much a part of the soundtrack of our lives as were the Beatles and the Stones.


Στο μπαλκονάκι σου [On Your Balcony]

When I wrote the tune and arrangement for this song, the songs mum taught me were lurking in the back of my mind. Because Ekaterini’s lyrics reminded me of the Greek village life mum used to describe and sing of when I was young, I intentionally included an element of nostalgia in the arrangement.


See also the playlist on YouTube “Mum’s Favourite Greek Songs”.