Život je nekad siv, nekad žut – Bajaga & Instruktori

I decided to post first about Bajaga (Ba-ya-ga) and his band (translates to Bayaga and the Instructors) because not only is this blog’s title a lyric from one of their songs, but I also consider him one of the most balanced, well-rounded musician from ex-yu. Creativity in his lyrics and sound, charisma in his appearance and personality, and a strong distinct voice. These qualities led him and his band to become highly successful and popular, with their songs still being played today. This video alone has 5 million views. Another distinct thing about Bajaga is the rich diversity in his music; none of his songs sound alike. Some are more rock, some are more pop, some are serious, some are playful, some are soft, others are energized, some are even more folk music-oriented, and then there is a tropical-sounding one like this one… O.o

This song, “Život je nekad siv, nekad žut” (“Life is sometimes gray, sometimes yellow”) is from their 1988 album “Prodavnica Tajni” (A Store of Secrets..or it could be The Store of Secrets.. we don’t have articles to differentiate that), a highly successful album, with its unique and slightly gloomier direction. Almost every song on that album became a hit and it sold more than 700,000 copies. With this album, and especially this song, I get a feeling like Bajaga and his mates wrote it after going through some romantic heartbreak. The lyrics and moodiness.. Let’s look at the lyrics, with my translations..

Some things to keep in mind with my lyrics and translations. I did not include all the accent marks, because that would be difficult to type. But I kept the Ž’s because of how often that sound came up in this sound. Ž sounds like..like…like the s in leisure, listen to how Bajaga says it in the song. Also, if I put any of my translation in parenthesis’s (  ), that means I reworded the literal translation for it to grammatically make sense in English without losing any of the figurative meaning. And anything with an asterik * means it will be referred to at the end. Brackets [  ] indicate a kind of chorus that repeats later.

Život je nekad siv, nekad žut  –  Life is sometimes gray, sometimes yellow

Život je, ovaj put, za mene, zabrinut  – (Life is, worrisome, for me, this time)

[Ne brini, Žiko ti, Kažu svi  –  Don’t worry, Žiko* you, says everybody

Žile, nemoj brinuti  –  Žile*, do not worry

Bolujes od ljubavi, To se tesko podnesi.  –  You’re hurting from love, that is hard to endure.

Koliko je volim a nisam s njom  –  Oh how much I love her but I’m not with her

Bas i sada ja pricam o tom  –  Even and now I’m talking about that

Koliko je volim, ja najbolje znam  –  Oh how much I love her, I know it the best

I na kraju ces ostati sam  –  And in the end you’ll be left alone]

Tvoj život je nekad siv, nekad žut x2  –  Your life is sometime gray, sometime yellow. x2

Zivot je nekad žut, nekad siv  –  Life is sometime yellow, sometime gray

Život je kad si živ,  –  Life is when you’re alive

Život je za to kriv  –  (Life is, at fault, for that)

Tvoj život je nekad siv, nekad siv, nekad žut x2  –  Your life is sometime gray, sometimes gray, sometime yellow. x2

Zivot je nekad žut, nekad siv …  –  Life is sometime yellow, sometime gray

[bracketed chorus repeats]

Tvoj život je nekad siv, nekad siv, nekad žut x2  –  Your life is sometime gray, sometimes gray, sometime yellow. x2

Život je nekad žut, nekad siv …  –  Life is sometime yellow, sometime gray

Okay, so first to clear up the references *. Žiko and Žile are both nicknames of each other so it refers to the same person. When I first heard Žiko, it reminded me of a famous ex-yu comedian I grew up watching named Žiko and his family dynasty series. 😀 We’ll get to him in another post because he’s a huge ex-yu cultural icon. I wonder if Bajaga did that on purpose. It’s actually probably referring to Žika Milenkovic, a member of Bajaga’s band who co-wrote the music with him.

In the song, there seems to be an exchange of dialog with the switches of you, I, and then the rest of members responding in the background. Actually, this can even be a representation of the conversation a person has with themselves after a breakup, with the members in the background echoing  Žiko’s thoughts in response to himself. Then with the song title being life is sometimes gray, sometimes yellow; it’s like that message of sometimes there’s bad days and good days, up’s and down’s, so don’t worry mate that your heart was broken. :’D However, It also demonstrates the side of the heartbreak, saying how much he loved her and “Oh how much I love her, I know it the best” (meaning they can’t tell him anything because they don’t know his situation as much as he does).

I also found the lyric  “Life is when you’re alive. Life is, at fault, for that.” to be an interesting lyric. It can be interpreted as the heartbroken one saying, “life is when you’re alive, but I don’t feel alive, so this advice of pain in life is temporary does not apply to me, and it’s life’s fault for being like this and for making me lose her in the first place”. I also like the rhyme of “živ” (alive) and “kriv” (at fault) in it, and then it goes to further rhyme with siv (gray); nice rhyme schemes. Then I like the contrast between the mellow tune of the music yet the heartbroken worried lyrics, reflecting the contrast in the title. This follows the pattern of the contrasting titles of the rest of the songs in the album. Apparently, the group was on vacation in Thailand during their Soviet Union tour when they wrote this album. So the tropical vacation-sound could be influenced by their vacation in Thailand. If I can find pics of that…

We’ll explore more of the album and this band in future posts. Feel free to comment what you think; any interpretations or opinions about the band or the song or the lyrics, album, etc. Or even which songs or albums of theirs you want me to talk about in the future? What genre would we even classify this song as? Feel free to ask for clarifications as well about anything that I wrote.

O, i slobodno pišete na naš jezik, ne mora biti na engleski! Mozete i pitati za prevod o bilo cemu sto sam pisala ako ne razumete ili nije bilo jasno. ❤