A cover of a song has never made me cry. Until this one:

Original song, Molitva, The Prayer, by Bulat Okudzhava, peoples’ poet.

Everyone loves Okudzhava, but I hate his irritating singing voice, which he probably would have agreed with, as he refused to acknowledge his singing and playing in favor of his beautiful poetry.

Regina Spektor transforms this song into something raw and desperate.

Translated beautifully into rhyming English by Alec Vagapov with a few tweaks by me:

While the earth still turns, and while the light is bright,
Oh Lord, please give everyone what he or she hasn’t got.
Give the timid a horse to ride, give the wise a bright head,
Give the fortunate ¬†enough money and about me please don’t forget.

While the world is still turning, Lord, You are omnipotent,
Let those striving for power wield it to their heart’s content.
Give a break to the generous, at least for a day or two,
Pray, give Cain repentance, and remember me, too.

I know You are almighty, I believe You are wise
Like a soldier killed in a battle believes he’s in paradise.
Like every eared creature believes, oh, my Lord, in You,
Like we believe desperately, doing something, not knowing what we do.

Oh Lord, oh my sweet Lord, My emerald-eyed One, You’re Good.
While the world is still turning, wondering, why it should,
While it has got sufficient fire and time, as You see,
Give each man a little bit and don’t forget about me.




8 thoughts on “Prayer

  1. Years ago I was so ‘up’ on all new music. But lately kids, work, husband, house….life…pushed that interest along with a few others to the back burner. That’s just my explanation for having missed this gem until now. Thank you for posting this. The way Regina Spektor performs this songs in truly amazing. She hits all the Okudzhava highlights (at least for me) and adds a dimension that I did not expect of her. I have always liked her music, but after hearing her sing this song I want to hear more of THIS Regina. Thank you for posting, Vicki.

    1. This one’s 6 months old, so no worries. I barely discovered about this song myself. I agree. I want her to do an album all in Russian.

  2. Wow! What a really great cover of this song. Incidentally, do you know that the full title of the song is “The Prayer of Francois Villon”? Villon was a famous French poet in the 15th Century and died pretty young (actually just vanished one day & no one knows what really happened to him). I always found the full name intriguing but also enlightening.

      1. I always thought it was because Okudzhava himself wouldn’t be able to give a prayer given all the anti-religion propaganda — he had enough trouble with some of his war poetry! So he assigned the prayer to a famous itinerant musicians, one with whom I think he identified on a personal level.

  3. Her “rowboats” is another great song but in English. I hear her songs a lot in TV shows lately. And Okudzava was ( and is ) a great song-writer and singer. Listen to his songs – he’ll grow on you. He is a philosopher too…

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