million-scarlet-rosesWhen I was in Russia in the summer of 2002 there was a song that was always playing on the radio, being sung around campfires or whistled from passersby. I even attended a 10-day intense English language learning camp and on the night of the talent show a nine-year-old boy stood up and blew me away with this simple ballad.

It was a beautiful song, definitely 80’s pop sounding, with an extremely catchy tune. The song, Million Scarlet Roses sung by legendary Russian singer Alla Pugacheva has since been translated and covered in Hungary, Sweden, Korea, Japan. (You can listen to the song here: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=cE7W8q905Q4)

The song tells a story of tragedy and woe (like so many of the good songs!). A young, poor painter has fallen in love with an actress. He sells everything he has down to his paintbrushes, and uses the money to buy a million scarlet roses. When she wakes up and looks out her window at the sea of roses she thinks a rich man is mocking her only to see the poor painter. The pair doesn’t end up together, she moves away and he lives a life of troubles pining away for her. The chorus is quite catchy:

Миллион, миллион, миллион алых роз

Из окна, из окна, из окна видишь ты

Кто влюблен, кто влюблен, кто влюблен и всерьез

Свою жизнь для тебя превратит в цветы

Translated, it simply means:

A million scarlet roses

From the window you can see

The one, who is seriously in love,

transforms his life into flowers for you

The reason this song has resurfaced in my memory is due to a recent Facebook post. My friend is Korean and her father has fallen in love with the song. It inspired him to buy her mother 100 roses to celebrate their anniversary.

This is simply one of those songs that every time I hear it memories flood over me. I remember my language instructor who owned a t-shirt from every major city in the world he had visited (and wore each one proudly!) I remember sipping glass bottles of cola with my fellow English teachers, laughing over cards and music, surrounded by the beauty of Russia. And it also takes me back to the faces of students in the Republic of Tuva, less fortunate students with infectious smiles and open hearts.

If you, like me, are feeling a bit nostalgic today, then take a few minutes, find your favorite Russian (or Korean, or Italian, or German, or French) song and put it on auto repeat as you remember all of the wonderful places language has taken you and the beautiful people that you have met along the way!

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