“It happened in Sitia (Crete) during a crowded concert,” singer Vasilis Papakonstantinou tells: “Manos Loizos was conducting the orchestra with his back to the audience. Suddenly his hands slackened and promptly he stopped moving them. In the absence of orders the musicians stopped playing and Manos was staring, silent and motionless in the background. I was terrified. I thought something happened. I realized that he was watching something over our heads. I turned to the direction he was staring at and I saw a beautiful full moon over the podium. He turned enchanted to the public, approached the microphone and said: “Did you see the moon?”.This incident, I think, is the most characteristic I can recall, for the meadows were where his sensitive soul and mind traveled.”
In his 18 years of composing, in the 60s and the 70s Manos Loizos (1937-1982) came to be one of the most important composers in Greek Music. 2007 was “Manos Loizos Year” in Greece.
His sensitivity generated beautiful melodies that came to nest in the hearts of many. For Vasilis, simplicity is his greatness: “with each new song you would think that you had heard it before but without it reminding you of another song.” In this way his songs were also loved outside of Greece, whether they are quintessentially “Greek” as sung by Kazantzidis, or have a more universal appeal like “Everything reminds you” by Haris Alexiou, or his social and political songs (about which, and his leftist views, we will speak other time).
I especially like his “troubadour” style songs like this one, “The Street”. (No translation).*
The intimacy and simplicity of many of his songs came from deep inside his soul. He possessed the art of personal intimate contact with people. His simple abode which he changed frequently was always full of friends who ate and stayed there… and they were all penniless, his daughter Myrsini recalls. In the studio he was sitting at the piano, playing the melody, sharing a simple score to guide the musician and then he was going to each one individually, chatting with them and exchanging ideas.
Manos had been living in the magic world of songs, literature and art in general and he had an impressive knowledge in these but he was never a practical person. Actually he did very little to make a living, and even when he was very short of money he refused to work in clubs and halls and to get money from his work… He liked friends to drink, play backgammon and to make some follies with… “He liked beautiful women, good wine, delicious appetizers. He was rarely angry. Most of the times he was smiling; “I’m desperate,” he was saying and was running to hide in the shelter: the humor…” wrote L. Papadopoulos. “We were going for a walk many times and most times he wanted to buy me a present. Once he asked me: “What would you like? …a belt or a bottle of good, red Portuguese wine? … I find it … I think I will buy you cufflinks”. He was getting in the store and after a while he was coming out with the smile of a childhood triumph on his face.” He disliked the burden of responsibility. “He never said “no” but you couldn’t rely on his “yes” (Issac Sousis) It seems that Manos never stopped to be a child…
I wanted firstly to write about Manos Loizos’ last album “For a day’s life”( Για μια μέρα ζωής) (1980), but as our friend Anastasia had read parts of the comprehensive book about Manos Loizos by Isaac Sousis (Ισαάκ Σούσης ) which is called also “For a day’s life” we decided to combine the story of Manos’ last years, the women and the events in his life with some beautiful songs from the Album.**
We begin our story with a movie; back in 1971 a leisure scene in the free, careless North Cyprus’ Kyrenia. “Holidays in our Cyprus” (Διακοπές στην Κύπρο μας) is the name of the movie and the beautiful actress and singer of the movie is Dora Sitzani. She sings “Limping Guitar” (Κουτσή κιθάρα) ***
Seven years had passed and Dora, who was a big love of Manos, became his second wife. (After Maro Limnou) The end of the decade also brought a change in the music side of things. Manos wanted to try a new direction in music, to look forward to a new era. In the album “For a day’s life” there is no bouzouki. The songs are from a ten years’ range but the orchestration of them gives priority to electric guitars and percussion. The first notes of the first song are a clear “declaration of intentions”. The song is the same “Limping guitar” from nine years before. The interpretation by Dimitra Galani is lyrical, far from the complacent “Latin” holiday’s atmosphere of the older version.
Here is Melina Kana, Vasilis Papakonstantinou and Hristos Thivaios (Press the bottom in Youtube for English captions)****
And Dora was there too. Manos let her sing another old song of his, “How much I love you”(Πόσο σ΄ αγαπώ). Dora also contributed two lyrics for the album.
The public at first didn’t like Manos’ try; it was the most commercially unsuccessful album, it took some time for people to get its greatness.
At the time of the album’s release, October 1980, and even in its preparation, Dora and Manos were already at crisis; their relations had started deteriorating shortly after their marriage. According to Issac it was because Dora couldn’t manage with Manos’ way of life and his friends. She felt that she is not accepted in his artistic circles and friends and she wanted him entirely for herself, not for the people he liked; she was not a weak person, she knew how to demand it. Manos felt pity for her but couldn’t avoid his rejection. At that time he already had parallel relationships and he did not hide it. Dora’s reaction was harsh. It was a painful situation.
Here is “How much I love you” sung by Haris Alexiou and “I am looking for you” (Σε ψάχνω) with Dora’s Lyrics by Tania Tsanaklidou (captions).
“I follow you”(Σ’ ακολουθώ) is deeply intimate erotic song, an exposure of the self, a confession that has prevailed to touch people of the last generation.
One could expect that this song, that Manos wrote the lyrics to, was written for a beloved girlfriend or to Dora in their best days. Surprisingly, it was written for a young woman who was just a good friend of Manos. Manos, the “flirter” who had erotic relations with women, who had expected them to adore him, suddenly found a woman to whom he just could talk to, share his joys, frustrations and fantasies. Lizzie Lasthiotaki.
“I met him in Paris during the military dictatorship … he cared about the developments in his country in a way that was so authentic, like no one else. I was impressed by the lack of sophistication in the clothing, in his movements, in his manner of speech. Our meetings became more regular perhaps due to the crisis underway with Dora. He used to come and take me from Law school to go into a basement in Solonos Street and have some ouzo to discuss books and anything else except politics. He was a fanatical admirer of Kafka … even at the hospital, where I was going to see him, he was talking about the “WasteLand” of the poet T.S. Eliot and he was reciting whole passages from memory.
He was an artist in the broadest sense, maybe more than musician. A man who was begging you, through his look and voice, to let him protect you. He was the welcome friend, the man, who could not stand to let him go and he showed it with modesty “. In the first version Manos included Lizzie’s name, but it was changed before the recording. Manos sung it greatly in the album but in the years to come Vasilis Papakonstantinou would be singing it frequently (captions)
In 1980, the same time that 43 years old Manos was married to Dora and was friend with Lizzie, he met and had a relationship with Rena. Rena was talking to Isaac about this period in Manos’ life.
“He wanted to pursue a healthier lifestyle, because health problems had already made their appearance (heart, kidneys), but he didn’t always succeed. Healthy diet, walking, swimming, a tavern … he was sitting, staring at the sea and at the same time he was pointing at the olives, bread and tomato by saying: “What else do people need to be happy?”… He admired the poet Nikos Karouzos, their characters fit together … they used to play backgammon the whole day, were telling shocking jokes, creating rhymes and philosophizing. He read much poetry, history, politics and philosophy of the East. Three were his words that gave meaning to what was home for Manos…”nesting, reading, music”… He played for hours classical music on the piano. He liked to watch movies and the sea, so he was leaving his house only if it was to visit a cinema or a beach.
I was thinking about the song “You are getting old and it’s getting dark” based on a poem by Tassos Livaditis (Τάσος Λειβαδίτης). This song hides a treasure that never came to the surface: the ability of Manos to describe through music depression and melancholy. A maturity that once was blocked by his forlorn attempt to find refuge in love, while love repeatedly had warned him that it brings pain and not safety … a maturity, which pushing dreams to grapple with reality and of course, when you have been for years “the optimist” , “the jovial”, “the positive”, how much time and effort takes you to show, that you are helpless, depressed, bitter from your loneliness, frustrated by your endurance, which betray you in the difficulties of life.”
The version here is by Haris and Panos Katsimihas.(captions)
The last two years
The last two years of his life (1980-1982) Manos gradually recedes from the recording environment. The crisis in his relations with Dora peaks and they jointly decide to discontinue cohabitation, without taking a divorce for the moment. His financial problems grew, because of his own lack of management capacity, and his health was deteriorating. He decides to modernize the style of his songs and overcoming his misgivings for more live performances. In these concerts is supported by friends and colleagues and especially by his personal sense of humor. Thus, in 1981 he starts makes a great concert program (joint performances with Mikroutsikos and Leontis) in major cities of Greece and tours in U.S., Canada and Sweden. Manos enjoy from close the love of the people and enjoy as a child these trips abroad. He changes frequently places of living. Manos always has this communicative charisma; he meets more and more artists and celebrities, without being able to defeat a deeper sense of loneliness, which besieges strongly in this middle age.
Manos continues, despite repeated warnings not to watch his health and in October of 1981 is hospitalized. When he will get out of the hospital, he will arrange a trip for checkup in Moscow and will seemingly continue his life as before but in January 1982 he returns from Moscow in with a severe warning for stroke in the diagnosis of the Russian doctors. He will travel to Venice with Rena and this will be the last pleasant journey. Dora is still unwilling to divorce him making unacceptable conditions. In the summer of 1982 he is hospitalized again and after that he found a nest at the house of a man he had met a few days before, Pagomenos ,a worker in a shipyard and leftist. He was just a simple man, who could appreciate good music and who tried in primitive amateur ways to make Manos feel better.
From his last travel to Moscow hospital in September 1982 he didn’t return. In Cyprus, outside his father’s house, which still exists, villagers will erect a small monument.
L. Papadopoulos: “He played backgammon …he played with his life. He lived only 45 years, which is more than 90, for many of us. Old and wise and sophisticated while child, ready to be enchanted by the colors of a butterfly!’
( That day wob’t be late, Η μέρα κείνη δε θ’ αργήσει, Lyrics by Fotas Ladis…. a love song with some political hints…)
* We also featured “Jamaica” in other post https://greeksongstories.wordpress.com/2012/05/18/the-friendship-that-caresses-our-loneliness/
**Maybe it is appropriate to note that a year before this album he made an album to Haris Alexiou “The songs of Haroula” (Τα τραγούδια της Χαρούλας). His significant relations with Haris are not being told in this post.
* **A video from the movie of the song “Limping Guitar” (Κουτσή κιθάρα) by Loizos/Papadopoulos as sung by Dora:
****We couldn’t bring the original versions from the album due to copyrights. But the versions in this blog are beautiful also…
Here are some original versions from Youtube:
Dimitra Galani “Lame guitar” http://youtu.be/6-JH2oElfI0
“I follow you” sung by Manos Loizos: http://youtu.be/Dvj6lm5nG7U
“How much I love you ” sung by Dora Sitzani http://youtu.be/9QwKam3zieo
That day won’t be late Dimitra Galani and Manos Loizos
Much of the post is based on Issac Sousis’ book “For a day’s life” (Για μια μέρα ζωής) which parts of it were brought to us by Anastasia Tanela. Anastasia brought to us also the notes from the booklet of 2002 edition of the album with the same name (that the book was titled after). Thanks Nata! Many thanks also to Katerina Siapanda for good advices.