- Hello Edward, the first question is about that clip that is so popular lately. How was that song created? Were any words there?
- I came from a musical festival in Sopot where I became a prize-winner. In Soviet times for a young singer to appear on TV screen one had to be a prize-winner or to be honored by the State. One of the songs I sang there was written by a composer Ostrovsky and he liked my performance. After I returned from Sopot he said: “I know you like classical music, especially Cavatina Figaro, I will write a song for you. A song with a following plot: John on a mustang is riding across a prairie to his love Mary who is waiting for him and knitting him a woolen sock.
- But 40 year ago a text like these would not be allowed on a Soviet TV.
- Well, you have said it yourself. We came to a studio and they told us: “Are you crazy? Which John? Which Mary? You have to leave all these words.” So we got rid of John and Mary but the song is still very American. In the end we got a jazz song that we arranged for three octaves. And it became a song just about a good mood. It is called “I am glad because I am returning home”. A man is merry he walks and sings for himself. He is glad and everyone around him is glad. First the song was recorded in Moscow and was accompanied by the orchestra directed by Yuri Silantjev. The arrangement of music was so difficult that we made a number of variants. After the TV premier the song became so popular that I performed it on all my concerts. If ever I forgot to perform it the public will always remind me. Once in Siberia a very famous Russian singer Valery Obodzinskii invited me to his concert and asked my permission to sing this song. He sang it in his own manner in one octave – it was very light and nice. But it became a very different song with a contrabass and a bass guitar.
- How did you know that the song became popular in America?
- My grandson Edward II as we call him came from school humming this song. I asked him what that was about. He answered that I am not keeping up to date and that in the internet all America is singing it while I am sleeping at home…
Yes, the popularity is really great. More than 2 million people have seen it in the internet. It is already being re-singed and even some parodies appeared. The actor known by the film “Inglorious Basterds” Christopher Waltz made a new version of your song.
Yes, he did his own variant. A bit with an erotic touch and a guitar on a intimate place. But as a composer who has written this song would have said: “Chris is singing different notes”.
- Do you know that the lovers of your song are collecting money to organize you a tour round the USA. Have you been there before?
- Yes, I’ve been in the USA. Once my good friend Vadim Mulerman asked me: “Would you like to see the USA?” And he did indeed show me the country from west to east and from south to north. It was not a business tour. We just gave concerts to the Russian immigrants. The public was interesting. Once during a tour an old Russian woman (babushka) said to me: “Imagine, Edward, I live in New York for 5 years now. But a policeman round the corner still doesn’t know a single Russian word!” They know all Russian songs – once you start singing they sing along. It is very pleasing. Of course I was singing in Russian then. In 70s I was touring Holland and a conference of a concert announced to the public: “Now you will hear a singer from St.Petersburg who will perform a song in Dutch”. I sang the first part “tru-la-la”, the public waited. On the second “tru-la-la” part they started laughing. By the end of the song they were all laughing because they understood that I played a trick on them. By the way the clip that is now circling in the internet was made in Sweden. I know it for sure because I am in a Swedish suite there which I got in exchange for souvenirs from Soviet Union – matreshka doll and a souvenir samovar.
I have a suggestion to everyone who uses an internet – let everyone in every country write a line to this song in their own language. And let the Americans write a line about John and Mary who is knitting him a sock. And we shall have an international song.
And I like a second clip where people of different nationalities are singing along me. You know, it is not important here who you are: Russian, Austrian, American, Japanese… it is important that all faces are smiling and a melody of “tru-la-la” is spreading happiness and love. Lets “tru-la-la” all together.
Mister Trololo Edward Hil