Vadim Astrakhan (USA)
Artist, poet and translator
"I was four when Vysotsky died, but his music was always played at my home and around me. I started playing Vysotsky as soon as I first learned to play guitar in 1989, like thousands of other Russian boys. His "If Your Friend," known at that time to every pre-schooler, was the second or third song that I learned. I memorized the majority of Vysotsky’s catalog and played his songs at various informal gatherings, to modest success.
After moving to the US, I almost immediately began translating his songs into English. My first translations were bad, just like my English skills. But as my English improved, I kept returning to these translations and improving them as well. 15 years later I deemed some of them worthy of being recorded.
I decided to change the arrangements, while preserving the melody. Some songs were left as acoustic pieces. Some songs were given orchestral arrangements, similar to Vysotsky’s own recordings with Soviet orchestras. Others were completely re-arranged, made into blues, heavy metal, or even genre-bending fusion."