The severity of Soviet-era censorship is sometimes frightening and sometimes amusing. In the USSR, there were entire lists of forbidden music that could have a detrimental effect on a Soviet person. There are dozens of foreign and domestic artists on this list: AC DC, Metallica, Pink Floyd, Michael Jackson, David Bowie, Civil Defense, Aquarium ... Each item on the list was accompanied by an explanation of how the performer deserved the disfavor of the Soviet leadership. All these bands and musicians, as it turned out, were molesters who promoted the wrong values. However, even under conditions of such censorship, people managed to pave themselves a path to good music, rewrite to a record or tape, listen to and discuss the “prohibition” in a good company. Did you or your parents listen to this music? This question is answered today by the interlocutors of diletant.media, and you can join the discussion in the comments.
Pavel Bardin, film director
I, frankly, remember the late Soviet Union, when there were no problems with music. Everybody went with cassettes, copied music from each other, heavy metal, breakdance (that was the name of the dance, but everyone thought that music). I know that there were problems with the Civil Defense, but we already listened to everything, no one interfered with us. Probably, all these bans were, but the system was not able to cope with them. When we were pioneers, each of us had names on the ties of some heavy metal bands in English or something else. All scolded scared, but could not do anything. We must understand that this, among other things, was a choreographic school. It was hard for those who tried to fight this mass phenomenon. In my time, the police were taken away for ripped jeans, but for listening to music is no longer.
Andrei Arkhangelsky, journalist, editor of the culture department of the magazine Ogonyok
I am an absolute child of Perestroika, when there were no prohibitions. My parents were not dissidents, so nothing forbidden in the house could be. This is all some kind of story from books, I have not come across this. Houses were only official records. The only thing - in the same Soviet childhood were the so-called “records of immigrants”: these are Lyubov Uspenskaya, Mikhail Shufutinsky and so on. They were called emigrants, and it was such an unofficial, White Guard theme, they flirted with the criminal theme. It was all in circulation in the school environment, it was impossible to buy in the store, such records went only in the form of tapes. It was absolutely not similar to what was broadcast officially, there were completely different words and topics, and I found this part of the parallel culture. It is also important to note that Vysotsky's recordings were the same part of the parallel informal culture. At home we loved him very much, but the whole set of his records was exhausted by a pair of flexible and a pair of official records. But exactly at the moment of Perestroika, when Vysotsky was suddenly released in the amount of 22 records, all that people used to exist only in the form of self-made recordings from afar. My growing up just coincided with this moment, when something that could only be heard in retelling or at a party earlier, was allowed. This is a very important point, because I found this change from the unofficial to the official, the moment of legitimizing a bard song.
By the way, my grandfather was already listening to western voices during the Perestroika period, and it was very funny. It is necessary to understand who he was: a colonel of the Soviet army, a communist since 1942, that is, it was a great experience, and, moreover, he was an absolutely convinced Soviet person. And so my grandfather, a Soviet man to the bone, listened to the BBC. This, of course, made an impression, and this strange contradiction sunk. Why did he take information about the Soviet Union "from there"?
Daniil Dondurey, cultural expert, chief editor of the magazine “Art of Cinema”
I, frankly, not a music lover, and I can only say in general terms. The Soviet government, and today our leaders are taking an example from it, took the corrupting influence of foreign, bourgeois ideology extremely seriously. This applied to films and music, perhaps, except for classical music. In the pre-Gorbachev time, it was always suspicious, there were many supervisory authorities that ensured that people did not associate with banned music. However, people, like today, skillfully bypassed the prohibitions, bought records, sold them here for big money (only jeans were more expensive), so this wonderful concern about the cleanliness of manners did not save the Soviet government anyway.
I was in 1986 the producer of the first free independent exhibition, the 17th Moscow youth exhibition. Then we had the Aquarium in the CHA. You have no idea what happened when about 2 thousand came to the hall designed for 800 people! There was a police colonel, and he rushed to me as the main organizer: what are we going to do ?! I said that I take full responsibility for myself, that I have the decision of the secretariat of the Moscow Union of Artists, and nothing will happen. These were the first free concerts, and you can’t imagine the happy faces of people who came to this concert! It was happiness, the umbilical cord of happiness, which in 1991 the Soviet government cut. True, not for long.
Artemy Troitsky, music critic
In Soviet times, it was not that forbidden music. The first black lists appeared in the USSR rather late, already at the end of stagnation, in 1983-1984. At that time, real lists of Soviet and Western artists were indeed compiled and approved. The implication was that if an artist is blacklisted, he should not be performing in public places and it cannot be broadcast on radio and television. Since at that time there were a huge number of discos in the country, and it was a very popular form of leisure, the recordings of these artists could not be played in discos either, in fact they declared a full boycott. The most popular Russian rock bands were on these blacklists, that is, both DDT and Nautilus Pompilius, and Civil Defense, and Aquarium. But it all happened after the 80th year. Prior to this banned lists, as I understand it, was not. There was music that was not recommended, and it was practically all Western music, with the exception of some Western artists, mostly French and Italian. They were not Anglo-Saxons, they had very little to do with American imperialism. As for the most popular music - it was American and British - it was not all recommended, the records were not sold, the melodies were practically not broadcast, but were given out in doses, several times a year, at three o'clock in the morning, and surely this happened on Easter, so that to divert young people from the procession and for some more great holidays.
Almost all the music I listened to was not recommended or even forbidden. I didn’t listen to the Soviet pop art, all this Kobzonovism, it was absolute, sorry for the rogue language, “zapadlo”. For the time being, I was listening only to Western music, exclusively Western rock, and not some kind of sugary Italian stage. Then, when the Soviet rock and roll underground started to unfold, I began to actively listen to Russian-language songs performed by our native bands. I always listened to rock and roll, and for the first time I heard it in 1963, and then my playlist was formed for many decades to come.