I Love A Girl In Moscow

как настоящий московица
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I generally think of this as the first Viper song: I wrote it specifically for the ukulele in the year after I’d finished my undergraduate degree but was still living in my undergraduate town of Madison, WI, and doing a lot of street performing to fund my evenings and my Tetris playing at the Plaza tavern.

The Russian lyrics came later. As a graduate student in the English department of the University of Illinois in Urbana-Champaign, we were required to do at least two semesters in a non-English language. I did Reading in Russian with a professor named Steven Hill, in which my translation exercises tended to come from the literary critic Mikhail Bakhtin and the liner notes of recordings by Soviet jazz orchestras. I didn’t learn enough to translate “I Love a Girl in Moscow” myself, but luckily, I knew a graduate student in another department named Grace Giorgio who did.

Here’s our notes (she was organizing a benefit show at the Blind Pig where I was to be the MC – this is pre-Orchestra – and at the top of the page, you can see a list of the other performers who were going to be playing at the event!):

Somewhat surprisingly, given this song’s age and relative permanence within our repertoire, I can’t find any live recordings of us doing it. So this version from our only studio recording, Everything For Everyone, will have to do.

The Viper & His Famous Orchestra, “I Love a Girl in Moscow,” from Everything For Everyone (2001)

Incidentally, the title “Everything for Everyone” comes from the text inside the inner circle of this early Soviet ad for a shopping mall, designed, I think, by Vladimir Mayakovsky and Alexander Rodchenko: two of my favorites. This was supposed to be the artwork on the the album cover, but we ran out of time!

the kind of music your great-great-great-grandparents warned your great-great-grandparents about