Archive for August, 2012

Timeless songs by Viky Moscholiou and Giannis Spanos

August 25, 2012

I think that every newcomer to the world of Greek music very soon adopts into his heart two songs sung by the strong, deep and sensitive voice of Viky Moscholiou: “Lonely People (Άνθρωποι μονάχοι and “Under the Eaves” (Κάτω απ’ τη μαρκίζα). This is in no small part thanks to the moving voice and universally-appealing lyrics.

There isn’t always a great story behind a great piece of art or music – many times it just happens… I wonder sometimes, in fact, whether I should give up entirely on telling about beautiful songs, so-called “classics”?…

These two songs are part of a 1977 album, which is a collaboration between Viky Moscholiou and the composer Giannis (Yannis) Spanos.

“Dorian singer she is, a boulder!” Said Mikis Theodorakis about Viky, and Manos Hatzidakis called her “The cello of Greek music,” referring to her vocal range and interpretations.  She was born in 1943, and as she was 19 she began to sing in a club as a supporting singer to the notable singer Gregoris Bitkotsis. Her career took off in 1964 as she was chosen by the composer Stavros Xarchakos to sing “The Moon was Lost”, which was the theme song of the movie “Lola”. From that time she became one of the most important and beloved singers, who worked with almost all of the leading names in Greek music. After more than 40 years of career, in July 2005 she was present in a concert for her honor sung by the finest female singers, and which was attended by 6500 people. Five weeks later she passed away from cancer, only at 62 years of age.

But we are still in 1977, and Viky, with many recordings and shows under her belt but only one compiled album, which is dedicated to one composer. (It was the policy of the record companies in Greece and abroad to create an album from various previous 45rpm issues). Then appeared her second chance to make a personal album; with Giannis Spanos.

Spanos was born also in 1943. He started his affair with music in 1959 when he attended a conservatory. He traveled to Paris and became part of the French Chanson scene, writing music for Juliette Greco and accompanying her on the piano. He also wrote for Brigitte Bardot and others, and was acquaintaned with notable French composers like Michelle Legrand.

Still a young man in his 20s, carrying some French” musical cargo” with him, Spanos returned to his homeland in the mid 1960s and brought a new style to Greek music.  The orchestration was simpler, sometimes reduced even to guitar only (as by the singer Arleta), performed with freshness by the young singers in small places. The public loved these new songs and they were very popular. Giannis Spanos, the founder of this style, also gave it its name – the “New Wave” (Νέο κύμα) – echoing the trend in French cinema of those days -Nouvelle Vague.

Maybe it is appropriate here to bring Spanos’ first New Wave song, “A Love for Summer”, as sung by the 17 year-old Kaity Chomata (1964):


In 1977 both Spanos and Moscholiou were in the peak of their careers, developing themselves through the mastering of music. They were loved by an audience whose tastes had also changed, and was ready to accept songs that a had more “concert style”, than “club style”. They combined forces at the “Lyra” record company, the one that had led the new wave more than a decade earlier.

Giannis Spanos tells: “When I received the proposal to record an entire album with Vicky Mosholiou it seemed like a gift from the heavens because it would the first time I’d make a record with an important voice. I remember her modesty in the first demos and recordings, the modesty of a pupil in front of a teacher, when it should have been the exact opposite. Mosholiou has the gift of immediately perceiving what the music and the lyrics need from her voice and she delivers it in the best way. For example, the interpretation of the song “Lonely People” in the record is actually the first rehearsal at the studio.”

The result was the album “Viky Moscholiou sings Spanos”, which can be defined as historical, and perhaps the finest of this unforgettable singer, with twelve excellent, inspirational songs. Four of the songs have eventually entered the “timeless” category, three of which Viky loved “the first moment I heard them”.

Let Viky and the songs speak.

“Lonely people” – “Like broken twigs, like you and me” as the last words say, is for every human, every place and every time… Haris Alexiou also interpreted this song after Viky’s version moved her to feel “awe and admiration” towards her.

Press cc or red bottom in the following videos for English subtitles

I think that “Under the Eaves” does have a universal appeal, apart from the beautiful music and lyrics (by the poet Manos Eleftheriou), perhaps thanks to its last line, I think the most heart-breaking in Greek music. After years, the woman incidentally finds her former lover, hiding from the rain under the eaves: “you who know all that the storm knows, you don’t have anything  to say to me”.

The next two song are more of “Greek” nature.I  feel  that “A time of departure”( Ωρα αναχωρήσεως), also by Eleftheriou (as the next one) is a grievance on modern life, with criticism  on boredom, on ways that people take that bring only distress, and on people who blame the society that they are part of on the hardships and pains they have.

The gramophones were playing

Inside the cafes

They were playing “The minore of the dawn”

And I was writing endlessly

On your own boredom

And on the one of my killed life

Time of departure

I was listening to trains

Only I did not go anywhere

To all I turned back

I found them dying

Within a miserable nightmare

Some friends from the army

Sometimes write to you

About the difficulties they pass through

And they are like gramophone

That as many pains as will come

The society is to blame, they will tell you

The fourth song is about the sailor who came on the land (Ναύτης βγήκε στη στεριά).  Viky didn’t like it at first. She tells: “Even while we were recording it I did not sing it well because I did not like it. And Giannis was shouting to me: “Sing it normally because this song will be a success!” He was right. By the time I discovered how “Greek” song it was. Something likes Tsarouchi’s paintings. This and the other three songs are timeless”

Sailor came out ashore for patrol

My mother! Sighed the whole beach,

Ended the patrol and came the sailor

And threw into the sea black pebble

Sailor came out ashore and appears before me

Good Lord!!! What I owe you poor woman

He said to me two sweet words, he wants to buy me

A vanilla ice cream and a sweet cherry

Sailor came out ashore and wears white

My house and my heart filled with stars

We were taken a photo for souvenir

At Hatzikyriakio in the middle of the square

Sailor went came out ashore with a three day’s leave

We were got too familiar with each other and he started bullying

He also made me a scene at the beach

That I not look around me like in a patrol

Here is the original version of  “Lonely people”

and of  “Under the eaves”


Viky Moscholiou:

 interview with Giannis Spanos

 The quotations of Giannis Spanos and Viky Moscholiou about the recording are from the booklet of the 1994 CD edition.

We thank Nata Ostria for the translations, and to Katherina Siapanda.

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