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The Podcast Theme Song

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Petr Leshchenko, 1898-1954

Many people have asked me about the theme song to the SRB Podcast. So instead of answering the question over and over by individual request, I’ve finally decided to post it on the blog for all to enjoy.

The song is Moya Marusechka (Моя Марусечка) by Petr Leshchenko, 1898-1954 (his Russian Wikipedia page has a more extensive biography). Leshchenko is considered the “King of Russian Tango.” He was born in the Odessa region but ended up in Romania after he was wounded in WWI. He only returned to Odessa during the war, where he performed as the Romanians occupied the city in 1941. After the war, he was arrested by the Romanian secret services in 1951, interrogated and imprisoned, until his death in 1954 in a prison hospital.

His music wasn’t officially available in the Soviet Union because tango and the foxtrot were considered counterrevolutionary and generally corrupting of good Soviet youth. It also didn’t help that the Soviet’s considered him a White. I have no doubt the fact he played a few concerts in occupied Odessa didn’t help either.

Leshchenko’s musical style was a blend of popular jazz and cabaret of the interwar years with a large helping of Roma influence.

Moya Marusechka was written and composed by Gerd Wilnow and released by Bellaccord-Electro Records in Latvia in 1937. Recordings of Leshchenko performing the song weren’t officially available in Russia (though I’m sure it was available nonetheless as was a lot of banned music) until Melodiia released a recording in 1988. Leshchenko’s music experienced a resurgence in those late Soviet days. Though the song was featured in the 1969 Soviet war film “The Path to Berlin” and Leshchenko’s music was played on Soviet radio and television. It just wasn’t available as a purchasable recording.

The song itself is a typical pop tune of boy walks into a party, sees girl dancing her heart out, boy falls in love. The lyrics are hardly a masterpiece but they’re saved by the music and Leshchenko’s singing. Here’s the last verse:

And so I want to live with you,
I can’t take it, I beg you-
Marry me!
My Marusechka,
You’re my babydoll,
My Marusechka,
You’re my darling.
My Marusechka,
And so I want to live with you,
I can’t take it, I beg you-
Marry me!

Hardly a work of literary genius. But hey, most good pop songs aren’t.

As part of a general fascination with Russian and Soviet emigres, let alone a general rehabilitation of the “Whites” under Putin, an eight part miniseries about Leshchenko’s life was broadcast on Russian television in 2009. Unfortunately, I was unable to find a copy with English subtitles for all you non-Russian speakers. Here’s the first episode (the rest can be watched on YouTube).

There’s no rhyme or reason why I picked Moya Marusechka as the podcast’s theme song. I have a CD collection of old Russian tunes from the interwar period and I just thought the song sounded cool. Apparently many podcast listeners do too.