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:
September 18, 2018
Conn Hallinan
Britain: the Anti-Semitism Debate
Tamara Pearson
Why Mexico’s Next President is No Friend of Migrants
Richard Moser
Both the Commune and Revolution
Nick Pemberton
Serena 15, Tennis Love
Binoy Kampmark
Inconvenient Realities: Climate Change and the South Pacific
Martin Billheimer
La Grand’Route: Waiting for the Bus
John Kendall Hawkins
Seymour Hersh: a Life of Adversarial Democracy at Work
Faisal Khan
Is Israel a Democracy?
John Feffer
The GOP Wants Trumpism…Without Trump
Kim Ives
The Roots of Haiti’s Movement for PetroCaribe Transparency
Dave Lindorff
We Already Have a Fake Billionaire President; Why Would We want a Real One Running in 2020?
Gerry Brown
Is China Springing Debt Traps or Throwing a Lifeline to Countries in Distress?
Pete Tucker
The Washington Post Really Wants to Stop Ben Jealous
Dean Baker
Getting It Wrong Again: Consumer Spending and the Great Recession
September 17, 2018
Melvin Goodman
What is to be Done?
Rob Urie
American Fascism
Patrick Cockburn
The Adults in the White House Trying to Save the US From Trump Are Just as Dangerous as He Is
Jeffrey St. Clair - Alexander Cockburn
The Long Fall of Bob Woodward: From Nixon’s Nemesis to Cheney’s Savior
Mairead Maguire
Demonization of Russia in a New Cold War Era
Dean Baker
The Bank Bailout of 2008 was Unnecessary
Wim Laven
Hurricane Trump, Season 2
Yves Engler
Smearing Dimitri Lascaris
Ron Jacobs
From ROTC to Revolution and Beyond
Clark T. Scott
The Cannibals of Horsepower
Binoy Kampmark
A Traditional Right: Jimmie Åkesson and the Sweden Democrats
Laura Flanders
History Markers
Weekend Edition
September 14, 2018
Friday - Sunday
Carl Boggs
Obama’s Imperial Presidency
Joshua Frank
From CO2 to Methane, Trump’s Hurricane of Destruction
Jeffrey St. Clair
Maria’s Missing Dead
Andrew Levine
A Bulwark Against the Idiocy of Conservatives Like Brett Kavanaugh
T.J. Coles
Neil deGrasse Tyson: A Celebrity Salesman for the Military-Industrial-Complex
Jeff Ballinger
Nike and Colin Kaepernick: Fronting the Bigots’ Team
David Rosen
Why Stop at Roe? How “Settled Law” Can be Overturned
Gary Olson
Pope Francis and the Battle Over Cultural Terrain
Nick Pemberton
Donald The Victim: A Product of Post-9/11 America
Ramzy Baroud
The Veiled Danger of the ‘Dead’ Oslo Accords
Kevin Martin
U.S. Support for the Bombing of Yemen to Continue
Robert Fisk
A Murder in Aleppo
Robert Hunziker
The Elite World Order in Jitters
Ben Dangl
After 9/11: The Staggering Economic and Human Cost of the War on Terror
Charles Pierson
Invade The Hague! Bolton vs. the ICC
Robert Fantina
Trump and Palestine
Daniel Warner
Hubris on and Off the Court
John Kendall Hawkins
Boning Up on Eternal Recurrence, Kubrick-style: “2001,” Revisited
Haydar Khan
Set Theory of the Left
FacebookTwitterGoogle+RedditEmail