(Source: Ogdoo) :
First part of this post:
The end of the 1960s finds Grigoris Bithikotsis after the “Theodorakis years” in which he had been singing the great master’s (and others) “Art laika” (Popular-art) songs and was involved in reviving the rebetiko song. He resumes songwriting. Then he begins collaborating with the lyric writer Kostas Virvos (Κώστας Βίρβος ,1926-2015). From then and throughout the 1970s, almost all of Bithikotsis’ songs (about 70) were the result of this collaboration.
Kostas Virvos was born to a rich family in Trikala. After high school, during the occupation in 1943, he joined the National Resistance, and in 1944 he was arrested, tortured and saw others being tortured.
He wrote his first song in 1948 during the Civil War about a soldier, and from then on he was productive for more than 60 years; he wrote around 2000 songs, for many important composers and singers.
Like Tsitsanis, Kaldaras, Hiotis and others, Virvos, on the lyrics side, was a “son of rebetika”; like them he “took the popular song from the twilight of the underground and the margin, and on the wings of the music it was circulated in cities and villages, ports and factories, neighborhoods and camps, making the song belong to the whole of the Greek people.” (Lefteris Papadopoulos). Following the tradition of the rebetika, Virvos wrote “about a variety of everyday simple people’s lives and their experience. Through his sensitivity and humanity he felt deeply these matters which relate to pain, victimization and arrogance, without missing the joys and the great truth of love… But there is also a political side to the route. With his progressive consciousness and participation in the National Resistance, he sang of the suffering of people in the harsh conditions of capitalist exploitation.” (Nikos Karouzos)
Virvos and Bithikotsis were friends from 1953 and had collaborated in one song in 1955. Sometime at the end of the 1960s the lyricist called Bithikotsis: “I hear that you are writing songs again and I have to give you some very nice lyrics”. Bithikotsis considered the lyrics as the core of a meaningful song and was used to composing for existing lyrics; so he was happy to write songs together with his old friend and the two first pieces came out to the world and became great hits…
Kir Thanos died (Ο κυρ Θάνος πέθανε 1969)
It is combination of heartbreaking lyrics and lively music. “Kir” is “Mister” but with much affection, perhaps directed at an elderly man. Kir Thanos had gone into poverty and had to pawn his beloved instrument, the baglama; for this he fades away and dies in a wine-shop…
I noticed that this Zeibekiko is danced to even in weddings. Katerina says: “In all the years I’ve been singing, I’ve never seen another song with death as its theme bringing such joy and making people literally jump on the dance floor. It’s a combination of the song’s melody, the rhythm and the extent to which people tend to feel sorry for the poor guy for all he’s been through.”
(At the end of the post there are other versions with English subtitles)
In Belle-Amie ouzo bar (Στου Μπελαμή το ουζερί-1970)
This is another story about a man’s pain that finds its way to self-destruction, by drinking in an ouzo bar. The speaker, a heavy drinker, turns to a young lad who mourns the loss of love by drinking one glass after another, and tells him, full of compassion, that no woman deserves that kind of crying and drinking for it brings a person to a state such as the speaker is in.
(English subtitles, thanks Leka)
.Let a good throw of the dice (Ρίξε μια ζαριά καλή 1971)
Come on life, let a good throw of the dice for me, too / Bring me some sixes, enough now of fours and twos / It is enough now of so many sorrows…
Ship with a foreign flag (Καράβι με σημαία ξένη) and Egnatia Street 406 (Εγνατίας 406)
These are the two opening songs of the 1973 album “Green Light” (Πράσινο φως) and both are about the will to forget distress, even for a while. In the first song the poet seeks for a ship that will take him far away from the pain of loss love; only there he could live again, even a little bit. In “Egnatia Street” it is having fun and fantasies that let people a time out from the daily hard struggle for living.
First, the “ship” (English subtitles)
And Egnatia Street
A beautiful carriage with two horses (Ένα όμορφο αμάξι με δυο άλογα -1975)
This beloved song is about a beautiful carriage the speaker wants in his funeral, to feel at least one time as noble rider who have some control in this false world.
Bithikotsis’ daughter, Anna, wrote: “Once he had given me an order concerning his death, something always scared him and bothered him. “When I will die I want you to take me to my last home on a beautiful wagon with two horses. Please take care so that the coffin not having knots so to feel comfortable in there as I will be immovable. Put also in my pockets money so to be able to help a poor man up there if he will ask me”
10 years after Bitikotsis’ funeral in 2005 ,the beautiful carriage with two horses was there in Kostas Virvos’ funeral too.
First, Grigoris Bithikotsis in a live show:
The translated version is by his son, Grigoris Bithikotsis (jr) with friends
“How are the dreams, grandfather?”
“The dreams are a building where first we put the woods, then the irons and then the concrete, so to stand all this structure. We all have the right to make dreams, but we don’t all accomplish them. I was strong. My passion was to get in the reality of music world. I want to believe that I am the root of the tree that is named Greece. Someday you will be proud of the inheritance I will leave behind and the name of your grandfather will open the doors for you. I had the feeling that I will manage something in this life and I was telling this to my mother since I was ten years old, and she was saying: “my child is crazy”…
“…Nothing is ending as long as the sun is rising again. For me what is perfect in life is the following morning…”
New versions with English subtitles:
Kir Thanos died-Kostas Karafotis
Let a good throw of the dice-Babis Tsertos
Egnatias Street 406-Eirini Toubaki
For links please see the first part of this post “The Sir’s early years and own songs”
Many thanks to Anastasia Thanela who brought us texts from Anna Bithikotsi’s book
and to Katerina Siapanda for all the explanations and songs’ translations!