On 11 February 2019 I set myself the challenging of reading 1001 Songs You Must Hear Before You Die by Robert Dimery (ed.) and following the book’s advice to the letter. I’ve previously read 1001 Films… and started 1001 Albums… but felt 1001 Songs… would be a sensible place to start for what I have in mind here.
My challenge is to read about one song per day and listen to it (YouTube and Spotify, I need you tonight!) before sharing my own thoughts. Some songs I will love, others I’ll hate, and I’m sure there will be those that leave me perplexed but listen to them I shall.
I’ll also try, and most likely fail, to pinpoint the best song from the 1001 on offer but I’m nothing if not foolhardy. Instead of one song, I’m predicting I’ll have about 100 favourites by the end and may have to resort to a Top 10 so far to maintain any semblance of sanity.
So long as I post everyday (including Christmas) then this challenge should come to an end on Wednesday 8 November 2021. Staying with the Barney Stinson theme I am hoping that the whole experience will prove to be…
Taraf de Haïdouks – Balada conducatorolui (1991)
Taraful Haiducilor (“Taraf of Haiduks”) are a Romanian- Romani (a troupe of , traditional musicians) from Clejani, Romania, and one of the most prominent such groups in post-Communist era Romania. In the Western world they have become known by the name given to them in French-speaking areas, where they are known as Taraf de Haïdouks.
We’re leaving the UK behind today, dear reader, and making our way deep into Europe and to Clejani in Romania. Here we come across a band by the name of Taraf de Haïdouks. Playing traditional and popular Romany music, the group are all skilled musicians and use everything from violins and wind instruments to flutes and accordions. When we join them in 1991 it is with the track – Balada conducatorolui which translates as “Ballad of the leader.”
I was not able to find a reliable translation for Balada conducatorolui but the song opens with what sounds like a fiddle before an array of instruments gradually come in. The vocals then work their way into the piece before blending smoothly with the melody rather than domineering it. The group sound as if they are very much about Romany tradition so I assume that the leader in this song may be referencing a significant figure in the community perhaps?
Balada conducatorolui is more notable for me by its melody than the vocals but both work in excellent tandem. Taraf de Haïdouks saw their music gradually introduced on the world stage but they were not easily swayed by fame. In fact, many of the group remain close to home in Clejani. They are continuing to perform but a few members have passed away since the group’s founding, but the music lives on.
Favourite songs so far: