Since I haven't done a Vysotsky translation in a while, and since my procrastination efforts are tireless, here, a translation of one of my favourites.  It was fun to do the wordplay on car terms (yes, I tossed a few more car model names in to help the rhyme, and the original had "spark plugs" but I think that is too awkward to be easily singable in English) and I've always found the meaning quite poignant. 

Burning tires on the tar
Without tracks or laws or bans,
Out from city nightmares, cars
Rush beyond to autobahns,
Lumbering as tanks they go,
Lincolns, Fords and Maseratis,
Benzes, Citroens, Renaults,
Elegant Mustangs and Bugattis...

Like they know sparks are worth it, this game.
Like blood feud on the cities this will be declared.
Hurry, pray the ignition won't flame,
Carburetors, and whatever else they have there...

Limousines on limousines,
You can't see the road, even:
Like two inkspots, in between
Two exquisite cars are weaving;
Like a chain is their connector
(And the weakest link will tear) ---
Accelerators and injectors
Will find nothing to do there.

As if they know --- sparks are worth it, this game ---
They'll just make it out, settling every affair!
Or perhaps he will sing her her name
On the klaxon, or whatever else they have there...

All this jam of cold machines
Their hot anger at you hiding.
Hear me, pale gray limousine,
Do not lose her from your highbeams!
Up ahead the road will split ---
Now, more risk, more faith now, go!
Or you'll miss her --- that was it ---
Oh, pale gray, you were too slow!

They had known sparks are worth it, this game ---
And now what can the signals and billboards still blare?
Or --- a load off his back maybe came,
Off his hood, or off whatever else they have there...

No, it branched, a shutting door,
Lanes apart, and you're not here.
Could it be that never more
Could split highways bring us nearer?
This one's merging, one more way!
And in seventh, on the metal,
The great limo, pale and gray,
Forgot to hit the braking pedal...

So then meeting is just empty dreams?
Or is this the blood feud on the cities declared?
And the tires went bouncing, the beams,
And the hearts... or whatever thing else they have there...

- V. Vysotsky


Video, as always: 
Additional notes:

In my dialect of Canadian English, "ban" does not actually exactly rhyme with "autobahn" --- at least, I learned enough German that this influences my pronunciation of the latter --- but the possibility was too tempting, so I ignored this.

Vysotsky mentioned a lot of foreign car makes that at the time, most of his listeners in the Soviet Union would have never seen: Ford, Lincoln, Selena (sp? which long browsing on Wikipedia made me totally unable to identify, unless he refers to the defunct Italian manufacturer Serenissima), Mustang, Mercedes and Citroen. Ironically enough, although I live in the West, the only time I have seen a Maserati, a make I added, was in a Moscow car dealership.
ext_12535: I made this (Default)

From: [identity profile]

Ah now. This one always makes me happy. Thanks for the translation.

From: [identity profile]

Cool that someone else is made as happy by that song as I am (and I can't quite figure out why --- it's a metaphor for a tragedy).

ext_12535: I made this (Default)

From: [identity profile]

For me, it's entirely the voice and emotional coloration used - which has a lot to do with why I love Visotsky in the first place. The first time I heard it, I knew perhaps enough Russian to say, "Thank-you," And, "Where's the bathroom?" Now I've lost enough that I feel lucky to remember even that on most days.

This - well, I can keep up with it a lot better than expected, and the translation helps tremendously, but the part that moves me is still the passionate approach to the music rather than the lyrics.

From: [identity profile]

I think I've told before about how when I listen to Vysotsky I'm always so intent on hearing the lyrics that it wasn't until I heard a Norwegian translation that it hit me, "Hey, he wrote pretty good music, too, I never noticed that."


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