Russian Rock’n’Roll, Avoiding Mind Control?

Rock’n’roll in the Soviet Union is far different than that of what we in America picture as rock’n’roll. This might not be the case when you take a look at the photo of Valery Saifudinov above, a pironeer of Soviet rock’n’roll, singing his last concerte before emigrating to the United States in 1974. Once you listen to the above song you may be able to tell a few minor differences but the title is what really gives it away, My address is the Soviet Union, and read the lyrics (posted below) you can tell that this music is primarily a form of state propaganda.The railcar wheels dictate

Where we urgently meet
My telephone numbers
Are scattered throughout the cities
The heart cares the heart worries
The postals pack the cargo
My address not just the house or the street
My address is the Soviet Union
My address not just the house or the street
My address is the Soviet Union

Telegraphic dots and dashes
You search for me at the construction sites
Today personal matters aren’t important
Just the work-day reports

The heart cares the heart worries
The postals pack the cargo
My address not just the house or the street
My address is the Soviet Union
My address not just the house or the street
My address is the Soviet Union

I am where the guys are sensible
I am where posters proclaim ‘forward’
Where a laboring nation sings
The new workers’ songs

The heart cares the heart worries
The postal packs the cargo
My address not just the house or the street
My address is the Soviet Union
My address not just the house or the street
My address is the Soviet Union

Beyond just the lyrics looking at he images shown within the music video for the song further back this up. Rapid images of the Soviet Red Star, the crest, the Kremlin and even a short clip of Stalin are included, which personally I find very interesting. The song writer of this musical piece was David Tukhmanov and his work was one of the largest hits at the time of its publish in 1973.

 

Music such as this shows how the Soviet Union maintained its grip on society through every facet of life. Even when just listening to music for enjoyment you are bombarded and blasted with messages of Soviet patriotism. Furthermore, the Soviets created this as their own form rock’n’roll due to the fact that they saw it as dangerous since it was something that originated in the West.  The Soviets believed this outside from of rock’n’roll was a form of “ideological sabotage used to “instill in the enemy’s mind the basic postulates of the American way of life, lessen his will to resist, and thereby remove negative emotions about the opposing side” (‘BARBAROSSA ROCK ‘N’ ROLL.’ — HOW THE MUSIC PROGRAM DJS ON WESTERN RADIO STATIONS TURN MUSIC INTO AN INSTRUMENT OF IDEOLOGICAL SABOTAGE). I found this article published in 1984 by Yu Filinov very interesting but also comical in light of todays knowledge. Rock’n’roll was quite obviously not a sabotage mind control technique used by the American’s as the Soviets made it out to be but in the times of the cold War absolutely nothing from the other side could be trusted.

Sources

Seventeen Moments: Geldern, James Von. “Rock Goes Russian.” Seventeen Moments in Soviet History. October 13, 2015. Accessed April 20, 2018. http://soviethistory.msu.edu/1973-2/rock-goes-russian/.

Video: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=KxvnKk8NJ-Q

Lyrics: http://russmus.net/song/5206

News Article: Yu. Filinov. “‘BARBAROSSA ROCK ‘N’ ROLL.’ — HOW THE MUSIC PROGRAM DJS ON WESTERN RADIO STATIONS TURN MUSIC INTO AN INSTRUMENT OF IDEOLOGICAL SABOTAGE” Current Digest of the Russian Press, The . 1984. https://dlib.eastview.com/browse/doc/19980301.

 

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18 thoughts on “Russian Rock’n’Roll, Avoiding Mind Control?

  1. I really enjoyed your post! It is not surprising to me that the Soviet Union would behave in this way. Control of music, and often creativity, seemed to come natural to the leaders there. I wonder how people still managed to listen to and get their hands on Western music?

    Liked by 1 person

    1. I don’t know for sure but I would guess that a few people were able to find western music. whether it was broadcasted long distance into the Soviet Union or distributed underground. Your question also makes me wonder if there was punishment if you were caught with or listening to western music.

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  2. Your post was very interesting! I never would have thought that rock’n’roll would have been so different in the Soviet Union. In America, we think of music as being a way to express our own views, not the governments. Do you think that using music as a way of state propaganda takes away from the pleasure of it?

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    1. I would say that to the majority of individuals they still enjoyed it due to the fact that they grew up under this oppressive and overbearing system that pushed this type of government views on their everyday lives. it is certainly a very interesting thought though considering how vastly different the two super powers forms of rock’n’roll were.

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  3. I feel like rock n roll or music in general is often a way to sit back, relax, and get away from the realities around you. In the Soviet Union it seems as if they used it as a way to pull people back in and buy into the realities. It doesn’t surprise me that it was controlled as it was. Things like literature and arts back then were also controlled to an extent.

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  4. I really enjoyed your post! I think music really has the potential to move people, so it was pretty smart that they would use a popular movement to project political messages. I thought the line, “I am where the posters proclaim ‘forward'” was pretty funny, as posters are used as propaganda themselves.

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  5. This is a very interesting post! It is surprising how different our genres of music can change country to country, time period to time period. It is also somewhat surprising just how deep the government enforced patriotism and to what minute details. It makes you wonder how much pressure artists felt while trying to express themselves while also keeping with in the requirements.

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  6. I think we’re a bit confused about what was rock and what was not! (Does “My Address is the Soviet Union” sound like rock n roll? ;-).) It belongs to a popular genre called “estrada” or ‘stage” music. Check back and re-read the 17 Moments essay and listen to the songs by Time Machine….

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  7. Great post, I love seeing what different cultures do with new genres of music. It does make sense that the USSR would want to control rock n roll music, as it inspired counterculture, anti-establishment movements in the fifties and sixties (like the one in the US). I could easily see the Party worrying that a similar movement would spring up in the Soviet Union. The idea that it was a Western tool is definitely a little strange though.

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  8. This was a really unique and informative post. I had never heard about this Soviet “rock n roll” before, but since reading your post I’ve been researching it a bit more. It is really interesting how the Soviet government utilized this mainstream platform for disseminating its views and policies. It really highlights the divide between Western and Soviet culture in a way many people not might know about. I wouldn’t be surprised if this is something Putin might try to revive in the near future (the blending of music and political propaganda) given its wide ranging information and influence operations it is conducting in areas of interest to the Federation. Great job!

    Liked by 1 person

  9. No the kind of music I was expecting but still pretty fascinating. Government propaganda taking the form of music is not a new concept, but this song is almost comical with how Soviet it is. Good post!

    Liked by 1 person

  10. in your blog you mention how the Soviet Union always found a way to implement their propaganda into the everyday life of a Soviet citizen. This of course encouraged a strong sense a patriotism throughout the nation. Thinking about today, do you think Russia still implements this into their society and if so do you think Russians have a stronger sense of nationalism in comparison to other nations such as the United States because of this?

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    1. I believe that there still is a strong sense, and growing sense, of Russian nationalism/patriotism today. It is certainly not at the level that is was back in the days of the Soviet Union and I would also say that it isn’t at the same level of that of the United States either. Putin has done a lot for Russia and one of those things is fostering a pride in the country once again after there wasn’t a whole lot in the first decade or so after the collapse.

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  11. Its very cool to see how Rock and Roll initially played a similar roll in the Soviet Union the way that it did with the United States. It makes sense that the Soviet government would want to control it though, especially with its slowly increasing popularity during that time. How effective was the Soviet controlled Rock and Roll?

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