FacebookTwitterGoogle+RedditEmail

Mourning Maria Dimitriadi

I am feeling very sad this morning.  It seems as if death is all around me;  between Christmas Eve and New Year’s Day three people close to my  family have been taken from us by that bastard cancer.  And then this  morning, a bit of my youth was assassinated.  Maria Dimitriadi breathed  her  last breath in an Athens hospital.  I didn’t even know she’d been ill.  Cancer  according to some news reports; a rare lung disease according to  others.  Makes no difference, Maria is still gone.  My “other” Maria.

Maria Dimitriadi was a brilliant singer.  Born in 1951 in Athens, she  made  a  risky visit in 1968 to Mikis Theodorakis, then under house arrest at  the  seaside resort at Vrahati, breaking through the police presence  surrounding  his home.  Mikis gave her his songs, and urged her to go abroad and  join  Maria Farantouri and his band, to let the world know what was going on  in  Greece.  She did, and for several years toured Europe with Mikis’ band  (and  with Mikis when the junta allowed him to leave the country), and  recorded  some of his most-beloved anti-junta songs of the period.  But at Mikis’  side,  she always stood in Maria Farantouri’s shadow, always the “other  Maria”.

Dimitriadi really came into her own with the fall of the dictatorship,  when  Thanos Mikroutsikos, a new composer, chose her as his muse.  She was  the principle singer on his first 6 albums, issued in 1975-79.  Mikroutsikos  introduced jazz and rock elements into Greek pop music, and these early  works were very political — songs with lyrics by Turkish communist  poet  Nazim Hikmet, East German dissident Wolf Birman, Greek communist  Yannis Ritsos, Bertolt Brecht, Vladimir Mayakovsky and others.  Maria  embodied the genre of “political song” which dominated the early  post-junta  years.  She sang at demonstrations and rallies, on picket lines with  striking  workers, at leftwing youth festivals.

These were the songs of my late teens and early college years, when I  was  fervently energized by the communist ideals which swept up Greek youth  (even though I lived here in the U.S.).  While my fellow students at  OSU  listened to Springsteen (someone I would not discover til I’d been out  of  college for 4-5 years), Rush, and who knows who else, I was listening  to  Dimitriadi singing her red heart out, singing songs about Roza  Luxembourg,  about executed Greek communists, about peasant rebellions in Spain,  about how “the whole world would become red”.  I saw Maria perform live  a  few times, once in 1978 at a stadium rally to send off the Greek  delegation  to the International Youth Festival in Cuba, where she and Mikroutsikos  debuted their “Songs of Freedom”, later that summer at the Communist  Youth Festival in Athens, and a couple of years later at a small club  in  Thessaloniki the winter that I attended the University there, where I  sat  at a  table right up against the stage.  (Somewhere I have a cassette tape I  recorded of that show, though I have no iidea where it is, it’s been  twenty-  five years or more since I last listened to it.).  A couple of years  later, I saw  her perform with Manos Hadjidakis at another small club beneath the  Acropolis.

Maria’s voice was warm and tender when she sang softly, and crystaline  and sharp as steel when she let her passion rip.  She could spit out  the  irony and anger and disgust and fervent optimism contained in the  lyrics  of  the songs she interpreted.  Her voice called us to the revolution,  urging  us  forward in rebellion on behalf of the beautiful ideals Marx first  proposed.  In  the words of the Greek music magazine Difono, she was Greece’s greatest  rock voice, even though she was never part of the Greek rock music  scene.

This close identification with political songs hurt her career when  that fad  faded by 1981.  In the mid-80s she withdrew from the recording studio  and  her career (although she continued to sing at rallies, and for a time  was  a  city council member with the Communist Party in the working-class  suburb  of Tavros), in order to raise her son from her brief marriage to  Mikroutsikos’  brother Andreas.  In the last ten years she attempted a comeback,  recording a rock album that was a commercial bomb.  No matter.  I am  certain that Greek youth will re-discover Maria Dimitriadi’s voice,  full  of the  spirit of struggle, a spirit which has apparently once again embraced  the  youth of Greece.  In a wonderful coincidence, Mikroutsikos’ first 6  discs,  with Maria, have just been remastered and reissued in the last month or  so.

I mourn for you, Maria, and for my youth.  I grieve for Greek music  which  today lost a unique and powerful voice.  Thanks, Maria Dimitriadi, for  the  passion and beauty of your voice, and for your red heart.  I will never  forget  you.

I have uploaded a zipfile with 10 of Maria’s songs, where the beauty &
power of her voice are displayed in all its glory.

CHRIS PAPALEONARDOS can be reached at: ctp@columbus.rr.com

 

 

 

 

 

 

More articles by:
July 19, 2018
Rajai R. Masri
The West’s Potential Symbiotic Contributions to Freeing a Closed Muslim Mind
Jennifer Matsui
The Blue Pill Presidency
Ryan LaMothe
The Moral and Spiritual Bankruptcy of White Evangelicals
Paul Tritschler
Negative Capability: a Force for Change?
Patrick Bond
State of the BRICS Class Struggle: ‘Social Dialogue’ Reform Frustrations
Rev. William Alberts
A Well-Kept United Methodist Church Secret
Raouf Halaby
Joseph Harsch, Robert Fisk, Franklin Lamb: Three of the Very Best
George Ochenski
He Speaks From Experience: Max Baucus on “Squandered Leadership”
Ted Rall
Right Now, It Looks Like Trump Will Win in 2020
David Swanson
The Intelligence Community Is Neither
Andrew Moss
Chaos or Community in Immigration Policy
Kim Scipes
Where Do We Go From Here? How Do We Get There?
July 18, 2018
Bruce E. Levine
Politics and Psychiatry: the Cost of the Trauma Cover-Up
Frank Stricker
The Crummy Good Economy and the New Serfdom
Linda Ford
Red Fawn Fallis and the Felony of Being Attacked by Cops
David Mattson
Entrusting Grizzlies to a Basket of Deplorables?
Stephen F. Eisenman
Want Gun Control? Arm the Left (It Worked Before)
CJ Hopkins
Trump’s Treasonous Traitor Summit or: How Liberals Learned to Stop Worrying and Love the New McCarthyism
Patrick Bond
State of the BRICS Class Struggle: Repression, Austerity and Worker Militancy
Dan Corjescu
The USA and Russia: Two Sides of the Same Criminal Corporate Coin
The Hudson Report
How Argentina Got the Biggest Loan in the History of the IMF
Kenn Orphan
You Call This Treason?
Max Parry
Ukraine’s Anti-Roma Pogroms Ignored as Russia is Blamed for Global Far Right Resurgence
Ed Meek
Acts of Resistance
July 17, 2018
Conn Hallinan
Trump & The Big Bad Bugs
Robert Hunziker
Trump Kills Science, Nature Strikes Back
John Grant
The Politics of Cruelty
Kenneth Surin
Calculated Buffoonery: Trump in the UK
Binoy Kampmark
Helsinki Theatrics: Trump Meets Putin
Patrick Bond
BRICS From Above, Seen Critically From Below
Jim Kavanagh
Fighting Fake Stories: The New Yorker, Israel and Obama
Daniel Falcone
Chomsky on the Trump NATO Ruse
W. T. Whitney
Oil Underground in Neuquén, Argentina – and a New US Military Base There
Doug Rawlings
Ken Burns’ “The Vietnam War” was Nominated for an Emmy, Does It Deserve It?
Rajan Menon
The United States of Inequality
Thomas Knapp
Have Mueller and Rosenstein Finally Gone Too Far?
Cesar Chelala
An Insatiable Salesman
Dean Baker
Truth, Trump and the Washington Post
Mel Gurtov
Human Rights Trumped
Binoy Kampmark
Putin’s Football Gambit: How the World Cup Paid Off
July 16, 2018
Sheldon Richman
Trump Turns to Gaza as Middle East Deal of the Century Collapses
Charles Pierson
Kirstjen Nielsen Just Wants to Protect You
Brett Wilkins
The Lydda Death March and the Israeli State of Denial
Patrick Cockburn
Trump Knows That the US Can Exercise More Power in a UK Weakened by Brexit
Robert Fisk
The Fisherman of Sarajevo Told Tales Past Wars and Wars to Come
FacebookTwitterGoogle+RedditEmail