Published: August 22, 2016

Breakout was a Polish blues/rock band, often considered one of the most important and best-loved Polish bands from recent times. The group was started by Tadeusz Nalepa in 1968, though he had started a very similar group called Blackout a few years before. Blackout included Nalepa, Mira Kubasińska, and Stanisław Guzek. Guzek was not included in Breakout, whose original members were Nalepa (guitar, harmonica, vocals), Kubasińska (vocals), Janusz Zieliński (bass guitar), Krzysztof Dłutowski (keyboard), and Józef Hajdasz (percussion).

Breakout was a staple of the Polish music scene between 1968 and 1982, when it officially disbanded. Its membership changed over the years—twenty different members cycled in and out—though Nalepa remained constant. They released ten studio albums, from On the Other Side of the Rainbow (Na drugim brzegu tęczy) in 1969 to Sail the Earth (Żagiel ziemi) in 1980. Nalepa went on to have a successful solo career after he broke up Breakout, and he won the Order of Polonia Restituta, or the Order of the Rebirth of Poland (Order Odrodzenia Polski) from the Polish government in 2003 for outstanding cultural achievements. He died in 2007.

Breakout was unique in Poland for both its sound and its look. It was markedly “Western”-oriented, from its sound kit—which they acquired while on tour in Western Europe and brought back to Poland with them, and which other Polish bands lacked—to the members’ attitudes and appearance. They were pariahs of the mass media for many years of their existence, and radio and TV shows often wouldn’t broadcast their music because of these ideological concerns. Nevertheless, they remained popular across the country and toured on both sides of the Iron Curtain.

Find Breakout on Amazon


“If You Loved, Hey!” (“Gdybyś kochał, hej!”), Breakout’s … well, breakout hit, from 1969:

Lyrics for “Gdybyś kochał, hej!”:

Gdybyś lubił mnie choć trochę, hej
Gdybyś kochał jak nie kochasz mnie
Gdybyś nie był jaki jesteś
Zechciał tak jak nie chcesz mnie

Byłbyś wiatrem a ja polem, hej
Byłbyś niebem, ja topolą, hej
Byłbyś słońcem a ja cieniem
Gdybyś tylko zmienił się

Gdybyś nie śnił mi się w nocy, hej
Gdybyś dał mi wreszcie spokój, hej
Może bym ci darowała
Może zapomniałabym


“Listen to the Rhythm” (“Słuchaj rytmu”), from Breakout’s 1976 album, UFO (NOL):

Lyrics for “Słuchaj rytmu”:

Smutek z pleców zdejm,
Zanurz w pieśni twarz
Bo dzisiejszy dzień
Tylko dzisiaj masz
Weź w ramiona tą
Którą kochać chcesz
Bo dzisiejszą noc
Tylko dzisiaj masz

Słuchaj rytmu pracy serca,
tętna – tańcz , tańcz

Smutek z pleców zdejm
Usłysz pieśni zew
Niech muzyka się
Zmieni w twoje (…)

Słuchaj rytmu pracy serca,
tętna – i tańcz, tańcz
Słuchaj rytmu pracy serca,
tętna – i tańcz, tańcz


Find Breakout on Amazon

About the author

Julie Hersh

Julie studied 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.

Program attended: Home and Abroad Scholar

View all posts by: Julie Hersh