Gogol Bordello

Maybe I shouldn’t look too closely at tattoos on people on trains.

Last night, just before my train got to my station, I moved towards the door, along with several others. The man in front of me had a large number of large tattoos. Looking in the general direction of the floor, I noticed that the one on one calf said ‘GOGOL BORDELLO’. I just couldn’t put those two words together. I know who Gogol was, and what a bordello is, but the two words together just didn’t make sense.

If not for the internet, I might never have known, but if not for the internet, I wouldn’t be typing this right now. A quick internet search revealed that Gogol Bordello is ‘an American Gypsy punk band from the Lower East Side of Manhattan’. Yes, they took their name from the Ukrainian/Russian dramatist ‘because he “smuggled” Ukrainian culture into Russian society, which Gogol Bordello intends to do with Gypsy/East-European music in the English-speaking world”. Gypsy punk is ‘a hybrid musical genre that crosses traditional Romani music with punk rock’. The founder and leader of the band was born in Ukraine and has (?had) a Romani grandmother. His ‘connection with his cultural roots is not without controversy, however, and he is seen as a polarizing figure among international Romani rights activists due to stereotypical displays of Romani culture’.

Having listened to exactly one of their songs, I can say that Gypsy punk is not likely to become one of my favourite genres. The music is listenable, but like most punk music, the vocal style is too rough for my liking. (If anything, I am more likely to listen to genuine Romani music.) The song at the top of list was Wonderlust, the video for which traces the singer’s real-life progress from Ukraine through Europe, before he went to America. The German word is wanderlust (that is, lust [German, desire] for wandering), but wonderlust is a common variation (3 million search results compared with 27 million for wanderlust), whether by mistake or on purpose. You can wander without wondering, and wonder without wandering. Wandering and wondering together is a good thing.

My research revealed that the band is touring Australia in March, and has one concert in Sydney. I won’t go.


Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s