Songs that changed history
“Walls come tumbling down”
a Rockumentary series
In the summer of 2020, in Warsaw, Poland, a group of young people organise a concert in support for Songs4Liberty in support of Belarus, starting with the “The Walls” a song by Jacek Kaczmarski, originally a Spanish song by Luis Llach, with songs from the Beatles and “Message in a Bottle” from the Police to “Winds of Change” by the Scorpions, Okudżawa and Młynarski, the Sex Pistols, The Clash, Brassens and Gainsbourg, or Mikis Theodorakis, old songs are sung again, in new versions, with the Ukulele and Guitars on the streets and in theaters of Warsaw and the surrounding area, and then continue on Youtube, Facebook, Spotify and other social media, in new versions and translations, more and more widely, creating a chain of songs 4 freedom all over the world.
Songs4Liberty is a Youtube radio series, in each episode we discover another song that had an impact on the history of Europe, from Bułat Okudżawa and Władimir Wysocki to the Sex Pistols and the Scorpions, through Polish, French, Spanish and Portuguese songs, in various translations, whose authors in their own way described the history of post-war Europe until the fall of the Berlin Wall. It begins with the “Prayer” by Bulat Okudżawa, first in Russian and then in many languages in various translations, in Polish, French and English. During this time, paintings and films from the history of the 20th century are being designed on the stage: from the end of the WWII to the fall of the Berlin Wall, these two events are the frame of our story, 1945-1989.
Music videos created by young artists will include songs from the past, for editing archival photos and films illustrating those moments in history to which the songs refer, and will constitute a “movable set”, ensuring the aesthetic setting of the spectacle.
The series will tell us how songs for freedom were created, who their creators were and how they influenced the formation of modern Europe. Are these songs still up to date? We will hear and learn the history of Russian bards: Bułat Okudżawa and Władimir Wysocki. Their work could not be published in communist Russia, but everyone knew their songs thanks to the tapes.… and because people would sing them to the accompaniment of a guitar.
We move to Poland and we remember Wojciech Młynarski and Jacek Kaczmarski, singers and poets who translated and sang the songs of the Russian bards. In the 1980s, the “Walls” became the hymn of “Solidarity”, which led to the fall of the communist regime in Poland, and caused a domino effect – the Soviet Union and the entire Eastern Bloc collapsed.
This song is a translation of the Catalan song “L’estaca” (“The Stake”). Lluis Llach sang it in opposition to General Franco, a dictator who wanted to ban the Catalan language. That is why the movement was formed ‘Nova Cançó’, a group of Catalans who sang in their own language. In Portugal, the Carnation Revolution was also announced by the song ‘Grandola Vila Morena’, played from the very early morning on the radio. Paco Ibáñez, another opponent of General Franco, also came from Spain and emigrated to Paris.
Many of these refugees lived in France, including the Greek composer Mikis Theodorakis, who won the Oscar for “Greek Zorba,” but also opposed the dictatorship of the colonels with his songs. France is, of course, the homeland of Léo Ferré, Georges Brassens and Serge Gainsbourg. In turn, punk and rock bands such as Sex Pistols, the Clash or Pink Floyd come from Great Britain; musician and activist Billy Bragg or songs accompanying Irish independence fighters …
Each European country had its bards, who also often knew each other, played or translated each other’s songs together. The journey continues in Berlin, from Nina Hagen to “Winds of Change” and “singing revolutions” in the Baltic countries, our film will show how music connects people with each other and how it influenced the history of their own countries and our entire European continent.
Our series is a documentary about people who changed the face of the 20th century by simply writing lyrics and singing in front of the audience. Millions sang with them, opposing authoritarian regimes, tearing down walls, changing Europe forever. We will meet amazing people who changed the face of Europe. Many of them are still alive and play their music to this day.
Others only live in the memory of people who knew and played them. The performance will confront “veterans” with young people, contemporary bands, who will take on the covers of old songs, translating them into their own language, playing together, bringing together people of different generations from different countries; people who make music live and old songs gain new meaning in modern times.
Even if today’s Europe seems completely different from what it once was, it is still threatened by various extremisms. We live in a world of conflict and disharmony, where the power of music can be even greater than ever thanks to the internet. The performance will contain fantastic music played by the best performers.
The shots from various historical places in Europe will be assembled together with the archival material, showing a completely new and original approach to the history of our continent in the 20th century and will combine into musical sequences with a strong and universal message about lessons from the past, threats to the present… but bringing hope for the future. The series will lead us through all of Europe, from the Bulat Okudhava dacha in the suburbs of Moscow to the cliffs of Ireland, to a neverending (?) “Concert for Freedom” in which everyone sings songs from our radio. All together now, one two three…