Stranger in Paradise

A post on Hubzilla this week had me searching the wetware memory banks for a song from the sixties. The tune was familiar, but the title escaped me for a while. In the end it came to me in the shower – it was called Stranger in Paradise, and it was sung by one of the crooners that were popular in those days. With Google’s help, I soon discovered that the artist was Tony Bennett, and his 1962 version can be found on YouTube.

The song was taken from the musical, Kismet, which ran on Broadway in 1953, but the tune is from Alexander Borodin’s opera Prince Igor, first performed in 1890. And that, of course, is a bit before even Old Man Crotchety’s time.

There have been numerous covers over the years since, including versions by The Supremes, Isaac Hayes, Dorothy Ashby, Neil Young, Sun Ra and Saint Etienne, but the one that warmed the cockles of the Crotchety heart was this one by Fapy Lafertin and Tim Kliphuis (a duo previously mentioned in these pages here).

The Hubzilla choice, though, was none of those. The big ‘H’ had taken us into a fantasy land of metallic folk – a land where bagpipes and accordions gambol daintily alongside female vocals, while an electric storm of guitars, bass and drums thunder behind them. And yet, in the midst of all this noise, the touching love song that Tony Bennett sang to us at the beginning of the sixties bursts through like the first rays of dawn.

Улетай на крыльях ветра (Fly away on wings of the wind) is from the 2010 album, Ведьма (Witch), the third of five studio albums by Kalevala. On the whole, the band’s style sits uneasily with me, but there’s something timeless about this particular tune that more than compensates for the thrashing and pounding that troubles the Crotchety ear in other contexts. Hats off to Alexander Borodin for such an enduring melody.

Mixing folk and metal genres is very strange down here on Earth, it must be even stranger in paradise.

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