Grigory Leps

Grigory Leps (Григорий Лепс) is a Russian singer best known for his contributions to shanson (a genre of Russian music that often tells stories about the criminal underworld).

Leps is from Sochi and started playing music when he was young, which initially competed with soccer in his affections—but luckily for us, music won. He studied percussion at a music school in Sochi, then began performing at restaurants and dances.

He moved to Moscow in the 1990s to try to kickstart his musical career. Things started out rough—he says that he began to drink heavily and do drugs—but he was able to record his first album, Natalie (Натали), in 1994. The single from the album became popular, and over the next few years his gamble paid off—he’s now recorded 13 albums, as well as many compilations and music videos. He has performed at the Olympics and even at the Kremlin, and in 2011 he was named a Distinguished Artist of the Russian Federation. He’s since won many international and Russian music awards, including Shanson of the Year and several Golden Gramophones. In more recent years, he has limited his focus on shanson and turned more to rock and pop instead. He also started his own production company in 2012.

On Leps’s website, he says that his voice and commitment to music “bring to mind only one predecessor—Vladimir Vysotsky.” To cement the comparison, he performs Vysotsky’s songs as well as his own. He has said that his music calls forth emotions in his listener, more than any other contemporary musician does. He is deeply devoted to his music and his performances. He is also, according to the United States’s Department of the Treasury, connected to organized crime, and as such is barred from entering the USA. This does not seem to have hurt his musical career in Russia and its environs, though.

Find Grigory Leps on Amazon

 

“Natalie” (“Натали”), 1995:

 

Lyrics for “Natalie”:

В старом парке пахнет хвойной тишиной,
И качаются на ветках облака.
Сколько времени не виделись с тобой,
Может год, а может — целые века?
Ни за что теперь не отыскать следов
В дальний край, где мы друг друга не нашли.
Я пришёл к тебе из позабытых снов,
Как приходят в свою гавань корабли.

Натали, утоли мои печали, Натали!
Натали, я прошёл пустынью грусти пол-земли!
Натали, я вернулся, чтоб сказать тебе: Прости!
Натали, от судьбы и от тебя мне не уйти!
Утоли мои печали, Натали! Натали! Натали!
Потерял я где-то в бездорожье лет
Безоглядную влюблённость и покой.
Брал от женщин всё, что мог, и не секрет,

Я не свят, я виноват перед тобой!
Целовал я струи многих родников
И томился одиночеством вдали.
Мои волосы от зноя и ветров
Побелели, как степные ковыли.

Я проделал долгий путь,
Только время обмануть невозможно, Натали!
И хоть я другим не стал,
Но с дороги я устал и душа моя в пыли.

Натали, утоли мои печали, Натали!
Натали, я прошёл пустынью грусти пол-земли!
Натали, я вернулся, чтоб сказать тебе: Прости!
Натали, от судьбы и от тебя мне не уйти!
Утоли мои печали, Натали! Натали! Натали!

 

 

“Glass of Vodka on the Table” (“Рюмка водки на столе”), 2002:

 

Lyrics for “Glass of Vodka on the Table”:

Ночь по улицам пошла
Звёздной поступью цариц,
Слов и чисел простота
У небесного моста
Раскидала перья птиц.
Не забудутся никем
Праздник губ, обиды глаз.
Забери меня в свой плен,
Эту линию колен
Целовать последний раз.

Только рюмка водки на столе.
Ветер плачет за окном,
Тихой болью отзываются во мне
Этой молодой луны крики.

Нелегко тебя отдать
Парусам ветров и птиц.

Может даже не понять,
Может даже не узнать
Среди тысяч женских лиц.
Пусть глаза мои молчат,
Молча смотрят на луну.
Если кто поймает взгляд,
Поторопится назад.
Сам не знаю, почему.

Только рюмка водки на столе.
Ветер плачет за окном,
Тихой болью отзываются во мне
Этой молодой луны крики.

Болью отзываются во мне
Этой молодой луны крики.

 

Find Grigory Leps on Amazon

Julie is currently studying Russian as a Second Language in Irkutsk (and before that, Bishkek) with SRAS's Home and Abroad Scholarship program, with the goal of someday having some sort of Russia/Eurasia-related career. She recently got her master’s degree from the University of Glasgow and the University of Tartu, where she studied women’s dissent in Soviet Russia. She also has a bachelor’s degree in literature from Yale. Some of her favorite Russian authors are Sorokin, Shishkin, Il’f and Petrov, and Akhmatova. In her spare time Julie cautiously practices martial arts, reads feminist websites, and taste-tests instant coffee for her blog.