Mashina Vremeni

Mashina Vremeni (Машина времени) was one of the Soviet Union’s pioneering rock bands. Formed in Moscow in 1969, Mashina Vremeni has worked across various genres over the years, and continues to make music today. Their name translates to “Time Machine.”

Mashina Vremeni’s eclectic sound, which has ranged from classic rock, to blues, to Beatles-style pop, reflects the unique contributions of each individual member. All of the band’s lyrics are written by founding member and frontman Andrei Makarevich (Андрей Макаревич), whose songs are generally allegories for Soviet and post-Soviet life.

Makarevich started the band with several other musically-talented medical school friends. Their original songs were all in English, as Makarevich and friends were strongly influenced by western rock music like the Beatles and the Rolling Stones. After a slew of lineup changes of the next several years, Mashina Vremeni became sufficiently well-known so as to be invited to play at the festival “Songs of Youth” in Tallinn, Estonia, to some acclaim.

Mashina Vremeni released their first full-length album (in samizdat form) in 1978, entitled It Was So Long Ago (Это было так давно). The following year the band experienced a period of crisis as two members abruptly left to join Sunday (Воскресенье). However, it was as a result of this struggle that Makarevich wrote one of the band’s earliest popular singles: “As Long As The Candle Burns” (“Пока горит свеча”).

1980 to 1990 is considered Mashina Vremeni’s “Golden Age.” During this decade the band had a slew of popular hits, such as “Turning Point” (“Поворот”) and “Blue Bird,” and several popular albums such as Rivers and Bridges (Реки и мости), In the Circle of Light (В круге света), and the soundtrack to the wildly popular film Soul (Душа).

Also during the 1980s, Mashina Vremeni fell victim to state repression as they were denounced in the press for being ideologically unsound. However, the band received a nationwide outpouring of support against these denunciations, which actually increased their popularity in the end.

The 1990s saw the release of several retrospective albums, as well as new material. During this period Mashina Vremeni also went on international tours, and played a massive 30th anniversary concert in Moscow. Mashina Vremeni’s popularity and productivity, though not at the levels of their “Golden Age,” has continued through the early 2000s and into the present day.

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Here is Mashina Vremeni’s first popular single, “As Long As The Candle Burns” (“Пока горит свеча”):

Lyrics for “Пока горит свеча”:

Бывают дни когда опустишь руки и нет ни слов ни музыки ни сил
В такие дни я был с собой в разлуке и никого помочь мне не просил
И я хотел уйти куда попало закрыть свой дом и не найти ключа но верил я не все еще пропало пока не меркнет свет пока горит свеча но верил я не все еще пропало пока не меркнет свет пока горит свеча
И спеть меня никто не мог заставить
Молчание начало всех начал
Но если плечи песней мне расправить как трудно сделать так чтоб я молчал и пусть сегодня дней осталось мало и выпал снег а кровь не горяча
Я в сотый раз опять начну сначала пока не меркнет свет пока горит свеча
Я в сотый раз опять начну сначала пока не меркнет свет пока горит свеча

 

Here is a more recent effort, in a blues style. The song is called “These Rivers Flow Nowhere” (“Эти реки никуда не текут”):

Lyrics for “Эти реки никуда не текут”:

Эти реки никуда не текут,
Они забыли о море.
В них не вьется трава,
Их не тревожит весло,
Вода застыла в них
Словно стекло.
Мне очень жаль, мама,
Но эти реки никуда не текут.

Эти птицы никуда не летят.
Они забыли про небо.
Если жить по расчету
И наверняка,
То крылья усыхают
И врастают в бока,
Мне очень жаль, мама,
Эти птицы никуда не летят.

Эти люди никуда не спешат,
Они забыли про время.
Когда звонит последний звонок,
Поздно считать,
Что ты смог и не смог.
Мне очень жаль, мама,
Эти люди никуда не спешат.

Эти реки никуда не текут,
Они забыли про море.
Эти птицы никуда не летят,
Они забыли про небо.
Эти люди никуда не спешат,
Они забыли про время.
Мне очень жаль, мама,
Но эти реки никуда не текут.

 

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Zach Hicks is a PhD student in Comparative Literature at the University of Oregon. He is currently participating in SRAS's Home and Abroad scholarship program. His main areas of interest are twentieth-century Russian and Soviet literature, socialist modernism, and critical theory. Outside of academics his major interests are martial arts, the outdoors, and music. In Russia, he plans to continue to increase his language proficiency, to learn as much as possible about the Russian underground music scene, its tattoo culture, and to become a student of Russia’s native martial art, SAMBO.