Songs from the Old Greek Underworld
Katharine Butterworth & Sara Schneider (eds.)
size: 13 x 20.5 cm.
The songs in this book are a sampling of the urban folk songs of Greece during the first half of the 20th century. They are the creative expression of an urban subculture whose members the Greeks commonly called rebetes. These rebetes were people living a marginal and often underworld existence on the fringes of established society, disoriented and struggling to maintain themselves in the developing industrial ports, despised and persecuted by the rest of society. And it is the hardships and suffering of these people, their fruitless dreams, their current loves and their lost loves that these songs are about, and underlying them all, their jaunty, tough will to survive.
The appeal of these songs, often compared to the American blues, is that the conflicts they express are not exclusively Greek conflicts, they are everybody’s; and they are still unresolved — in urban Greece as in urban Anywhere.
“… [A] world of hash dens, junkies, brothels and songs wherein historical figures like Socrates and Xerxes occasionally make bizarre appearances among the trams and hookahs, and death is still called Charos, a corruption of Charon in ancient mythology.”