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2017-08-17 Back to list

Back to the 60s: A Girl Band Singing About Kaunas

The lyrics of the song tell us a story about the hills of Aleksotas and Žaliakalnis, separated by rivers Nemunas, which is of course the metaphor for two lovers that can’t be together. Maybe someday!

“You live on a hilltop with water cradling your face”, goes one of the most beautiful songs about Kaunas ever recorded; it was done almost half a century ago by one – not the only one but probably the most known – big beat girl band Eglutės (“fir trees” in Lithuanian).

Eglutės and other bands of the 1960s didn’t really play Western rock, these were rock interpretations depending on the circumstances. Western music reached young musicians and likeminded individuals through radio stations of Warsaw and Luxembourg and records shipped or smuggled into the Soviet Union illegally (by sailors mostly), so the iron curtain didn’t completely isolate them.

The girls of Eglutės (Rasa Matukonytė, Rita Gembickaitė, Jūratė Paukštytė, Violeta Romanovaitė and Rūta Žalnieriūtė) came together in 1968; all of them were pupils of J. Naujalis music school. The band had a similar structure to The Beatles: three guitars, drums, keys. As it wasn’t really possible to simply be an underground rock band and all of the musicians were supposed to officially work somewhere, Eglutės were soon asked to join the big band of Kaunas radio factory. For some time, they performed with the big band but also played solo shows, all around Lithuania and sometimes travelled to Latvia, too.

Eglutes 9

Picture from Bigbeat.lt

eglutes 3

Picture from Bigbeat.lt

In 1971, Rasa, the singer, left the band and it quickly fell apart. After May 1972, when a young student Romas Kalanta set himself on fire as a protest to the Soviet regime, it wasn’t that easy to start any new bands and older ones went deep underground or disbanded. Eglutės never ever played together after disbanding and there aren’t so many records left. The one about Kaunas is our all time favourite!

eglutes 1

Picture from Bigbeat.lt

The lyrics of the song tell us a story about the hills of Aleksotas and Žaliakalnis, separated by rivers Nemunas, which is of course the metaphor for two lovers that can’t be together. Maybe someday! Here goes:

You live on the tall hill,
With water cradling your face,
You light the fire at night with your heat,
And you silently put them off at dawn.

Tell me, oh calm morning Nemunas, why’d you separate us?
Why’d you divide the tall hill into half?
Why so silent, why so silent, we’re close and yet so far apart,
And the cheeks of floating buoys are turning red.

I live on the green hill,
With my sight drowning in the river,
The smiling waves weave our hands together,
As if they were yellow grass above the bottom stones.

Tell me, oh calm morning Nemunas, why’d you separate us?
Why’d you divide the tall hill into half?
Maybe the hills will join again one day and touch each other’s green sides,
While the sun caresses their tops.

 

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