These are the beautiful folk melodies your babcia and dziadzia loved... and so will you!
- From M.D. in Toronto: What a treat!!! Listening to Robert Johnson's wonderful new CD titled "Treasured Polish Folk Melodies," which I received today. It's a beautifully put together recording featuring a variety of musical colours, from the uplifting to the contemplative. Highly recommended. Congratulations on your fabulous work!
SPECIAL FEATURES OF THIS ALBUM:
I can't say for sure these are YOUR babcia's or dziadzia's favorites folk songs, but they are MINE.
•For the first time, I sing one of the songs in Polish - "Nie chodź Marysiu".
•The album features a variety of musical styles and techniques; each song is different, so you won't get bored.
•Although the primary instrument is the acoustic folk guitar, other instruments are also featured:keyboard, mandolin, violin, percussion instruments, and the harmonica. That's right, the harmonica! Have you ever heard a Polish folk song played on harmonica? I think you will like it.
•Sound effects are also used to add a degree of realism to the recoding: sounds of nature (including the screeching of a Polish eagle, the crackling of a campfire, the howling of the wind), and the sound of baby crying. (Special thanks to my grandson, Zachary, for doing the vocals for the lullaby, "Dorotka". Such a talent!
BIOGRAPHY: Bob Johnson is a Polish-American with a deep appreciation for Polish music, especially kolędy i pastorałki. As a boy growing up in Buffalo, Bob was an active member of the St. Stanislaus Boys Choir and a piano student at the Villa Maria School of Music. He began playing folk guitar when he was in high school and has since enjoyed playing his favorite Polish Christmas songs on guitar for his family. His soothing fingerpicking style is perfect for the Polish songs he cherished as a boy. Proud of his Polish roots, Bob hopes to pass down his love for Polish music to his five grandchildren, who join him on this album as a special guest vocalist.
Bob Johnson is the 2011 recipient of the Am-Pol Eagle Newspaper's Citizen of the Year Award for culture.
1. Hej sokoły (3:27) - Guitar/Keyboard - Hej Sokoły is a traditional Polish song that was popular among soldiers during the Polish-Soviet War. The title translates roughly as "hey falcons." The lyrics exist in several versions about a Ukrainian girl to whom her betrothed, either a cossack or an ulan says goodbye for the last time. Hej Sokoły is the most searched song on this web site and my instructional video is one of my most popular videos on my YouTube channel. When you listen to the recording you will surely notice the screech of a falcon heard in the background.
Although its exact origins are unknown, the song was believed to have been written by the Polish-Ukrainian poet-songwriter Tomasz Padura in the first half of the 19th century. It is representative of what is known as the Ukrainian school of Polish literature. The song also became popular in Ukraine, with a slightly different text in Ukrainian. The tune was popular among Polish soldiers during the Polish-Soviet War, and was also sung by the Polish Home Army guerrillas during World War II.
2. Płynie Wisła, Płynie (2:13) - Guitar/Keyboard. Percussion - According to "The Polish Heritage Songbook", this song is "the most famous of all krakowiaks written by Edmund Wasilewski (1814-1846). The music by Józef Hofman (the father of the famous pianist of the same name) is a perfect complement to the text." - page 164. The Wisła River (Eng. Vistula) is Poland's main river and, like Poland, shall continue to flow until the end of time.
3. Góralu, czy Ci nie żal (2:49) - Guitar/Keyboard - In this song, a Polish highlander laments having to leave his beloved mountains "for bread". Life in the mountains was hard, and it was often necessary for the górale to travel to the lowlands in search of the resources needed to maintain their unique way of life. The text was written in 1865 and the music was composed in 1812 by well-known teacher and composer, Michał Świerzyński (1868-1957)
4. W murowanej pienicy/Zbójnicki (2:09) - Guitar/Keyboard/Violin - "Zbójnicki" (Robbers, highwaymen or brigands) is a highlander dance frequently performed to the tune of the song, "W murowanej pienicy" ("In a stone cellar"). In the 17th-18th centuries, bands of robbers roamed the Tatra Mountains. Generally these were men who sought refuge in the mountains from oppressive lords or to avoid conscription into the military. Some also were there in the hope of finding legendary treasures hidden in the Tatra Mountain caves. To some extent these thieves were admired by the locals for their spirit of freedom. Like England's Robin Hood, the most famous was, the son of a Slovak peasant who shared his loot with the poor. He is the inspiration for many Polish highlander songs. Source: "Polish Folk Dances and Songs" - pages 268-269
My version of this song is a bit of a tribute to Juraj Janosik. On the lam, the legendary fugitive runs through the forest pursued by the authorities. Will they catch him? History tells us that in 1713 Janosik was betrayed by a jealous lover, was captured and condemned to a brutal death. He was 25 years old. The violin I used in this song to keep rhythm throughout the song was my dad's.
5. Haniś, moja Haniś (1:57) - Guitar/Keyboard - According to "The Polish Heritage Songbook", this was "a military song based on a folk melody, it was made popular by the Legionaries of The First Brigade." - page 165
6. Idzie Maciek (3:26) - Guitar/Keyboard - This song is about Maciek who loved to sing, but had the nasty habit of hitting anyone who got in his way with his cane. He's dead now, but surely a lively mazur (mazurka) dance would bring him back to life. But does anyone really want to extend the favor to such an unkind man?
7. Karolinka (2:06) - Guitar/Keyboard - This is a bright, peppy tune that has always been one of my favorites.
8. Płonie ognisko w lesie (2:27) - Guitar/Keyboard/Mandolin - This is a scouting song in which scouts are advised to always stay alert. My recording includes background sounds of the great outdoors, including crickets, the crackle of a campfire and the hoot of an owl. A wolf heard howling in the distance serves as a serious reminder of the life-threatening dangers we all must face.
9. Nie chodź Marysiu (2:09) - Guitar/Harmonica/ Vocals performed by Bob Johnson - Speaking of wolves, in this song, Marys is warned by a woodsman not to enter the forest where two wolves were seen searching for their next meal.
10. Szła Dzieweczka do Laseczka (2:51) - Guitar/Keyboard - I always picture pretty Polish girls dancing whenever I play or hear this tune.
11. Czerwone Jabłuszko (2:27) - Guitar/Keyboard - This krakowiak is very popular throughout Poland.
12. Hej z góry z góry (2:40) - Guitar/Keyboard - Just a fun tune popular at weddings and celebrations of all kinds. The last time I heard it was at the Dożynki I attended in Pololsze, Poland.
13. Dorotka (1:50) - Keyboard/ Vocals by my grandson, Zachary - The tune is that of a very sweet lullaby.
14. Matuś moja, matuś (2:12) - Keyboard - This is my sister's favorite tune. Hope she likes my redition. In this song, a maiden begs her mother for permission to marry Johnny. One of the things she admires about the you man are buckles that jingle on his belt. The tradition of adhering a fair amount of bling on a man's belt is of military origin. When Polish hussars rode into battle, the clanking of their buckles created a menacing sound that struck fear into the hearts of their adversaries.
15. To i hola (2:07) - Guitar/Keyboard - Guests are coming! Get ready!
16. Highlander Medley(4:19) - Keyboard - There is nothing more spirited than good gorale music. I had lot of fun stringing together a few of their most iconic melodies for this recording, including, "Zasiali Górale Owies", "Hej, Góral Ja Se Góral" and "Za Górami, Za Lasami".
17. Jak szybko mijają chwile (3:35) - Guitar/Keyboard - "Na Pożegnanie" or"Jak Szybko Mijają Chwile" is an old favorite. It is especially meaningful on the eve of St. Sylvester (New Year's Eve) and when sung by students at the conclusion of the school year. The song reminds us that the years fly by and ultimately all friends must part, but if the fates allow, we will someday meet again and to share our dreams and join our voices in song.