From the Attic – Polish Melodies of a WW II Refugee
After World War II, up to two hundred thousand Poles in the United Kingdom were left without the realistic option of returning to their homeland. They initially formed into cohesive local communities in the hope that a new war with the Soviet Union might re-instate the pre-war boundaries and make it possible to return to their homeland. By the mid 1950's this evidently was not going to happen. The pre-war Government of Poland was now based in London and they represented a community which was intent on preserving the social, religious and cultural identity of the Poland they were now unable to live in. At the same time, the Soviet occupation was wrenching the remaining population into an identity which was both alien and illegitimate.
The music on this album is the music of this Polish exile community. Some of the songs were actually banned in communist Poland in an attempt to erase from the national memory bank many aspects of pre-war Polish culture, in particular, the songs from the time of the Polish – Soviet war in 1919 -1920 in which the Poles had defeated the Red Army. Songs from the second world war which were associated with the Polish armed forces fighting alongside the Allies in Western Europe were also suppressed and these forces constituted a large proportion of the exile community.
Most Poles raised in my generation in Polish communities will recognise most, if not all, of this music. Some of it is overtly “patriotic” from the times of struggles for independence, some of it is “folk” music from various parts of Poland and some is merely “popular” from before the war. The music from Lwów, now “Lviv” in the Ukraine and the music from “Wilno”, now “Vilnius” were particularly poignant for the emigrees because these regions were now not even in Poland but annexed into the Soviet Union after the war.
I have been a musician from my early childhood and, even though throughout my career in music I have been involved in performing Blues, Rock 'n Roll, Classical, Latin and Folk music, my musical “roots” have always remained in this music of our Polish exile communities. I have recorded these tunes as I remember them being performed at family gatherings, social events, camp-fires, concerts and whenever a few Poles got together with some Vodka. I have never seen printed or notated versions of these songs and there well may be some melodic short cuts, extra bars and lyrical variations, as I have reproduced the way they were performed by ordinary people.
How to get hold of it
The album can be heard, downloaded, or CD's can be bought on the distribution site Bandcamp. This is a particularly good site because the tracks can be heard in their entirety and the cover artwork and graphics can be viewed. It is also available as a download through iTunes and Amazon. Alternatively, contact me through this website and I can organise a delivery.
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