Those Were the Days

those were the days 1

Even though today’s featured song is almost a century old, I only heard it for the first time a couple of months ago.  I was watching a DVD I received for Christmas on the life of Apple Records, run by the Beatles, and some of the acts that performed on that label.  I heard Mary Hopkins singing the song Those Were the Days and i was immediately drawn in by the catchy chorus line.  You can tell it comes from Russian background. 

It seemed to me to be like an anthem to younger times and drinking in the bars with my friends.  At the time, we think those days will never end, but eventually they do or at least to the extent that they did back then.  Now we are only left with the memories.  This song has a very interesting history and I hope you take the time to read about it in this blog. 

So on this Friday, let’s sit back and remember the days of our youth.  Those were the days.  Enjoy!

Mary Hopkins singing the song.

Mary Hopkins sing the song in color.

Mary Hopkins singing the song for a TV program.  Very good quality.

Original Russian version of the song.  Probably the first and last Russian song I will ever feature.  Lol.

Live version of the song performed by the Leningrad Cowboys in Sweden in 1996.

Great live version performed by Liam Clancy to end the concert.

Dolly Parton singing the song.

5th Dimension singing an upbeat version of the song.

those were the days 2Those Were the Days” is a song credited to Gene Raskin, who put English lyrics to the Russian romance song “Dorogoi dlinnoyu” (“Дорогой длинною”, lit. “By the long road”), composed by Boris Fomin (1900–1948) with words by the poet Konstantin Podrevskii.  It deals with reminiscence upon youth and romantic idealism.

Georgian singer Tamara Tsereteli (1900–1968) and Russian singer Alexander Vertinsky made what were probably the earliest recordings of the song, in 1925 and in 1926 respectively.

The song is best remembered, however, in English-speaking countries, for Mary Hopkin‘s 1968 recording, which was a top-ten hit in both the U.S. and the U.K.  On most recorded versions of the song, Raskin is credited as the writer, even though he wrote only the later English lyrics and not the melody.

In the early 1960s Raskin, with his wife Francesca, played folk musicthose were the days 3 around Greenwich Village in New York, including White Horse Tavern.  They released an album which included the song, which was taken up by the Limeliters.  Raskin had grown up hearing the song, wrote lyrics in English and then put a copyright on both tune and lyrics.  The Raskins were international performers and had played London’s “Blue Angel” every year, always closing their show with the song.  Paul McCartney frequented the club and, after the formation of The Beatles‘ own Apple Records label, recorded the song with Mary Hopkin, McCartney’s agent having purchased the song rights from Raskin’s.  The song was subsequently recorded in over twenty languages and by many different artists and Raskin was able to live very well on the royalties, buying a home in Pollensa, Mallorca, a Porsche Spider and a sailing boat.

those were the days 4At the peak of the song’s success, a New York company used the melody in a commercial for “Rokeach Ga-filte-fish”, arguing that the tune was an old Russian folk-tune and thus in the public domain. Raskin successfully sued and won a settlement, since he had slightly altered the tune to fit his lyrics and had taken out the valid new copyright.

Although the song was popularized in the early 1960s by Thethose were the days 5 Limeliters, Welsh singer Mary Hopkin made the best known recording, released on 30 August 1968, shortly after Hopkin had been signed to the Beatles’ newly created Apple label.  Hopkin’s recording was produced by Paul McCartney and became a #1 hit in the UK singles chart.  In the US, Hopkin’s recording reached number two on the Billboard Hot 100 and topped the Billboard Easy Listening charts for six weeks.  In the Netherlands it topped the charts for 2 consecutive weeks.  The Russian origin of the melody was accentuated by an instrumentation which was unusual for a top ten pop record, including Balalaika, clarinet, hammer dulcimer and children’s chorus, giving a klezmer feel to the song.

Paul McCartney, who produced the session, also recorded Hopkin singing “Those Were The Days” in four other languages for release in their respective countries:

All four non-English sets of lyrics were also recorded by Dalida and Sandie Shaw with Shaw recording the English lyrics as well.

The UK and US recording’s B-side was Pete Seeger‘s “Turn! Turn! Turn!“, which had been a U.S. #1 hit for The Byrds in 1965.

those were the days 6“Those Were the Days” was catalogue number APPLE 2 (the APPLE 1 catalogue number was given to an unreleased version of “The Lady is a Tramp” by Rodgers and Hart, recorded especially in 1968 for Maureen Starkey as Ringo Starr‘s gift for her 22nd birthday, under the name of “The Lady is a Champ”).  It was the second single to be released on the Apple label, the first – “Hey Jude” by The Beatles – had retained the sequential catalogue numbers used by Parlophone (in the UK) and Capitol (in the US).

Hopkin’s version was released on the back of her success on the television talent show Opportunity Knocks and around the time of its release popular singer Sandie Shaw was also asked to record the song by her management, feeling that it should be done by a “real” singer.  Shaw’s version was released as a single but did not beat the success of Hopkin’s version.

In the mid 1970s, after Hopkin’s contract with Apple ended, “Thosethose were the days 7 Were the Days” and “Goodbye” were re-recorded with producer Tony Visconti.  Only these re-recorded versions can be found on music compilation discs because Apple never allows its original recordings to be used.

On Christmas 1975, the President of Equatorial Guinea, Francisco Macías Nguema, had 150 alleged coup plotters executed in the national stadium while a band played Those Were the Days.

In 2005, Dolly Parton released a cover of “Those Were the Days,” which featured backing vocals by Mary Hopkin.  That year, the song became the title track of Dolly Parton’s album Those Were The Days.

Other Versions

  • 1959 – Theodore Bikel recorded this song, in the original Russian language.
  • 1962 – American folk group The Limeliters recorded the song and later released it on their 1968 album of the same name.
  • 1967 – UK singer Engelbert Humperdinck covered the song on his 1967 album The Last Waltz.
  • 1968 – The French version of the song, “Le temps des fleurs,” was popularized by the international recording star, Dalida. She also recorded the song in Italian and German.
  • 1968 – The international recording star Vicky Leandros recorded the French version “Le temps des fleurs” and had a huge hit in Japan, Canada, and Greece with this song.
  • 1968 – Halina Kunicka – “To były piękne dni” (“Those were beautiful days” in Polish)
  • 1968 – Violetta Villas – “Znowu Ciebie mam” (in Polish). Her version caused controversy in Poland as Villas used lyrics she ordered from a songwriter who had re-written them without permission. Unhappy with this version, she re-wrote the lyrics in the 70s and performed it with the title “Miłością znów żyję”.
  • In the 1960s Mary Hopkin and Sandie Shaw also sang the song in French, as well as in Italian, Spanish and German. Both Shaw’s and Hopkin’s versions were released roughly around the same time, as a sort of competition between the two, to see whose single would fare better with the public. When Hopkin’s album, Postcard, was re-released on CD, the Spanish and Italian versions of the songs appeared as bonus tracks. Sandie Shaw has had all of her versions re-released on separate CDs, split up by language.
  • 1968 – Gigliola Cinquetti covered the song in Italian (“Quelli erano i giorni”, with Italian lyrics by Claudo Daiano) and Spanish.
  • 1968 – Päivi Paunu covered the song in Finnish. Followed by eight other covers in 1968-1991, before the Leningrad Cowboys.
  • 1968 – Turkish version by Semiramis Pekkan called “Bu Ne Biçim Hayat”.
  • 1968 – Portuguese version (Portugal) by Natércia Barreto called “É Primavera, amor”.
  • 1969 – Mexican version by Los Rockin Devils band, entitled “Esos Fueron Los Dias.”
  • 1968-1969 – Olle Bergman lyrics in Swedish, “Ja, det var då”, reached Svensktoppen wirh recordings by both Lena Hansson (3 weeks) and Anita Lindblom (7 weeks).
  • 1969 – Margareta Paslaru recorded the Romanian version of Hopkin’s song – “Azi vreau sa rad din nou”(Today I want to laugh again)
  • 1968 – Mira Gubik – “Rég elmúlt víg napok” (Hungarian version)
  • 1969 – The 5th Dimension covered the song in their album The Age of Aquarius.
  • 1969 – Teréz Harangozó (Hungarian version: “Azok a szép napok”).
  • 1969 – Ivan Rebroff made a Russian version of the song, called “Такие дни, мой друг” (Takiyeh dni, moj drug). The song was a verbatim translation of the first two verses and the chorus of “Those Were the Days”, but without any rhythm or rhyme. It was released as a single and was also included on the “Live” album Russische Party of the same year.
  • 1969 – Shuli Natan recorded a Hebrew version – “כאלה היו הימים” (ka’ele hayou hayamim), to lyrics translated by Mickey Hartby. Later on, Avi Toledano made another Hebrew cover of the song.
  • 1969 – Ryoko Moriyama and Akemi Hirokawa sung Japanese version of the song, called “Kanashiki Tenshi (悲しき天使).”
  • 196? – Georgian Nani Bregvadze [1] (Russian, “Dorogoi dlinnoyu”, USSR) (available on the 1971 album Нани Брегвадзе, Мелодия 33СМ03055-56)
  • 1969 – Alexandra (Germany)
  • 1969 – Brazilian singer Joelma sung Portuguese version of the song, called “Aqueles Tempos (Those Days)”.
  • 1969 – Saxophonist Dexter Gordon recorded an instrumental version of the song on his album The Tower of Power.
  • 1970 – Teresa Teng (Taiwan) sang a traditional Chinese version of the song called “往日的時光.”
  • 197? – Irena Kohont, Slovenian singer, made a Slovenian version of the song, named “To so bili dnevi”, together with a music video.
  • 197? – Pakastani singer Alamgir made an Urdu verion of the song called “Mein teray liyay Baichain”.
  • 197? – Afghan singer Ahmad Zahir made a Dari version of the song called “Zeba Negaram”.
  • 1976 – Zoi Kouroukli made popular the Greek version of the song, called “Χαμένα Όνειρα (Khamena Oneira)”, literally meaning “Lost Dreams”, although it first performed by Leo Leandros in 1968, with lyrics by Thanasis Tsongas.
  • 1987 – Tiny Tim, covered this song on the 1987 album Tiptoe Through the Tulips: Resurrection
  • 1989 – Hungarian band Dolly Roll covered the song in Hungarian with different lyrics from the version of Teréz Harangozó. (“Ábrándos szép napok”)
  • 1989 – The Wedding Present, recorded “Давні Часи / Davni Chasy” better known as “Those Were the Days My Friend”, for Українські Виступи в Івана Піла / Ukrainian John Peel Sessions which was released in February 1989. Українські Виступи в Івана Піла reached #22 in the UK albums charts.
  • 1990 – Demon Kogure covered “Those Were the Days” on his first solo album “Koshoku yorozu goe otoko”.
  • 1990 – Flamenco duo Azúcar Moreno covered the song in Spanish as “Cuando El Amor Se Va” on their international breakthrough album Bandido.
  • 1991 – Leningrad Cowboys covered “Those Were the Days” for the Aki Kaurismäki short film of the same name. The song was later released on their 1992 album We Cum From Brooklyn.
  • 1992 – Leningrad Cowboys and the Alexandrov Ensemble covered the song in the 1992 Total Balalaika Show and the performance was released on the live album Total Balalaika Show – Helsinki Concert later the same year.
  • 1994 – In the 70’s, The song was translated into Bengali by Bengali Folk Song artist Ranjan Prasad as “Sei Rongin Dinguli”, literally “Those colorful days”. It was released in 1994 by Concord Records performed by the singers Madhusree, Madhurita and Amrita, popularly known as the Concord Trio or simply Trio.
  • 1994 – Cara Jones covered “Those Were the Days” on her debut album Different Skies. Also, Ground Zero covered “Those Were the Days” on their album Plays Standards.
  • 1994 – The Croatian group Vatrogasci (Firefighters) made a parody of this song, translating it into Croatian (naming it “Ajnc, cvaj draj”) and making it in turbofolk arrangement.
  • 1995 – The Irish folk group The Clancy Brothers & Robbie O’Connell recorded this song on their album Older but No Wiser. The title of the album comes from the last verse of the song.
  • 1998 – The German version of the song, “An jenem Tag“, was popularized by the international top star Karel Gott on his best of triple album Einmal um die ganze Welt.
  • 2000 – German band Brings covered the song as “Superjeile Zick”
  • 2000 – Ghetto People covered “Those Were the Days”. In 2001 they showed the video.
  • 2001 – Finnish folk metal band Turisas covered “Those Were the Days” on their 2001 EP The Heart of Turisas.
  • 2001 – Lithuanian country singer/songwriter Virgis Stakėnas covered the song as “Kelelis tolimas” on his album Country Mama.
  • 2004 – Dayna Kurtz covered “Those Were the Days” on her album Beautiful Yesterday. Also, New York cabaret artists Kiki & Herb included the song in their Carnegie Hall debut concert Kiki & Herb Will Die for You.
  • 2005 – Folk singer Susan Lainey covered “Those Were The Days” in her self-titled album. The song would later be selected in October 2006 by the internationally aired #1 television show Nip/Tuck; for a scene in Season 3 Episode 4.
  • 2005 – Although not exactly a cover, 50 Cent used an electric guitar version of the melody of “Those Were the Days” in Dr. Dre-produced track “When It Rains, It Pours”. Also, 2005 was the year Dolly Parton covered “Those Were the Days”. Parton’s recording featured guest vocals by Hopkin.
  • 2005 – The Hungarian violinist Jozsef Lendvay covered this song on his Echo Klassik CD Lendvay & Friends.
  • 2005 – Il Folklorista covered “Those Were the Days”; Il Folklorista is a project by Gigi D’Agostino and Luca Noise. The remix was featured in the compilation albums Disco Tanz and 2006s Some Experiments.[8]
  • 2006 – “Those Were the Days” was converted to a chant by Carsi, a supporter group of the Turkish fottbal team Besiktas JK, Istanbul. It is named as “Opera for Fener” and teases rival team Fenerbahce. The video of the chant on YouTube has been watched more than one million times. It has been observed that even Fenerbahce supporters can not stop themselves joining in when the cheer is sung nearby.
  • 2007 – Slovenian singer Manca Izmajlova covered the original Russian version of the song on her album Slovanska duša (Slavic Soul).
  • 2007 – Swedish-born Greek singer Elena Paparizou covered the French version of the song, “Le temps des fleurs”, which was released on her CD-single “Fos” and was featured on the bonus CD on her Yparhi Logos: Platinum Edition album.
  • 2007 – Jamaican Dancehall-Artist Shaggy covers the refrain of “Those Were the Days” in his album Intoxication.
  • 2007 – Vietnamese Singer Ngoc Ha covered the song in her version for Asia DVD 49 as “Nhu la thu vang”.
  • 2007 – Latvian instrumental cello rock trio Melo-M included a cover version in their 2007 album Singalongs.[9]
  • 2007 – Brazilian instrumental band Brasov recorded a ska version in their 2007 album Uma Noite em Tuktoyaktuk (in English, “A Night In Tuktoyaktuk“).
  • 2008 – Vietnamese singer Thanh Lan covered the Vietnamese version “Tuoi Thanh Xuan” on her CD Trong Nắng Trong Gió – In The Sun & In The Breeze.
  • 2008 – Bad Boys Blue Heart & Soul.
  • 2009 – The German band RotFront covered the song in “Red Mercedes” on their album Emigrantski Raggamuffin
  • 2009 – The American jazz pianist Eyran Katsenelenbogen covered the song in his solo album 88 Fingers
  • 2010 – The Russian countertenor Vitas covered the Russian version of this song on his album Masterpieces of Three Centuries.
  • 2010 – Wilfredo, the comic alter ego of the British comedian Matt Roper, performed the song at the Salento Festival, Italy.[10]
  • 2011 – The Iranian rock band Kiosk covered this song on their 2011 album Outcome of Negotiations.[11]
  • 2013 – Australian country artist Nia Robertson covered this song on her 2013 album release “The Woman I Am”.

Those Were the Days

by Gene Raskin

Once upon a time there was a tavern
Where we used to raise a glass or two
Remember how we laughed away the hours
And dreamed of all the great things we would doThose were the days my friend
We thought they’d never end
We’d sing and dance forever and a day
We’d live the life we choose
We’d fight and never lose
For we were young and sure to have our way.
La la la la…Then the busy years went rushing by us
We lost our starry notions on the way
If by chance I’d see you in the tavern
We’d smile at one another and we’d say

Those were the days my friend
We thought they’d never end
We’d sing and dance forever and a day
We’d live the life we choose
We’d fight and never lose
Those were the days, oh yes those were the days
La la la la…

Just tonight I stood before the tavern
Nothing seemed the way it used to be
In the glass I saw a strange reflection
Was that lonely woman really me

Those were the days my friend
We thought they’d never end
We’d sing and dance forever and a day
We’d live the life we choose
We’d fight and never lose
Those were the days, oh yes those were the days
La la la la…

Through the door there came familiar laughter
I saw your face and heard you call my name
Oh my friend we’re older but no wiser
For in our hearts the dreams are still the same

Those were the days my friend
We thought they’d never end
We’d sing and dance forever and a day
We’d live the life we choose
We’d fight and never lose
Those were the days, oh yes those were the days
La la la la…


About wmarsau

Most of the people who visit this blog already know me so it is kind of pointless to try to describe my life in this short little blurb. What is the purpose of this blog is the question. Over the course of this last year I have been exposed to some amazing people and have made personal development an important focus of my life. Being successful, not by the world's standards, but by God's has become my main focus. Mainly, I want to work to develop myself as a person who is kinder, reaches out to help those in need, and truly makes a difference in this world. To this end I am constantly reading and am exposed to so many differnet things along the way. These have been amazing and it is helping me grow so much. Then I started to think, "Why am I being so selfish?" You need to share with others these amazing things you are learning and being exposed to. That is where this blog comes into play. As I am reading and experiencing things that are truly amazing and life changing, I will be posting them on this blog. Obviously, I will not be able to post everything in it's entirity, but I will be summarizing them and letting you know the source of the article or book they come from so you can check them out later if you wish. I want this blog to be a place where you can go to often and be inspired and leave here with a smile on your face. I will be covering all kinds of different topics dealing with success and personal development. Topics like taking action, relationships, living to your potential, reinventing yourself, finances, leadership, presenting, goal setting, time management, etc. I will also be occasionally including topics on cooking, music, and gardening because they are special interests of mine. As a little disclaimer, I have given my life to the Lord and he is #1 in my life. I am his servant and everything I do in life is for his glory. With that being said, religion influences all areas of my life. There will be references to God in this blog because I can't seperate God from this or any other area of my life. I want you to know that if you do not believe in God, that is fine. That is your choice. This blog is open to anyone who wants to better their life. I will not be trying to influence or pressure anyone into having a relationship with the Lord from this site. Please don't feel uncomfortable. You can just read the portions of the blog that you wish to. I am inviting you to go on a journey with me. We will learn together to be the kind of people we were designed to be. Anyone can make a difference in this world, but it starts%
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