Russia, March 3, 1999
Everyone sings along, and there are a few you wish didn't!The music scene in Russia is like nothing I've ever seen before. There is an amazing amount of amateurs (but not amateurish) music here. In every metro station, someone is playing a musical instrument or singing and they are all great. I have a sneaking suspicion that they are state concert musicians, unpaid for so long, they are freelancing to make money. The music really enlivens the metro. I have even cried one evening after hearing a beautifully sad violin.
The metros aren't the only place to hear good music. In the perryhod (underground pedestrian crossing) near my house a band plays on weekend nights, to a large and happy crowd.
Every woman in Russia has a beautiful voice and can sing all the old folk songs by heart. At parties I like to bring out the Russian folk songs I have and listen to the women sing. The men will join in, even if they cannot sing, and we all end up enjoying ourselves.
Because they didn't have professional music here, no one is embarrassed to sing or play musical instruments, even if they cannot. It is a great freedom compared to the states where we always compare what we hear for our friends to the pre-packages commercial wonders from the Hollywood music industry. They don't have mixing machines or electric guitars here, and that makes even the worst singer seem so much more honest and beautiful in my book.