There is a tendency to almost avoid going any deeper in writing or discussing rebetiko, more than exchanging details and glorifying facts. I think there is a superficial feeling about manges, saying that they just talked about hasch, water pipes, played music, drunk wine and ouzo, made jokes, were teasing or knifing each other... Like if they were a kind of Hollow men without everyday problems, without private troubles. And that is both sorrowfull and very annoying...
To be contradictory I`m publishing the verses of a very sweet and nostalgic rebetiko which has exactly this content that today`s young people believe about manga`s life. But a commercial song`s purpose is to help somebody to dream, to escape. Reality is something else..
ΑΕΙΝΤΕ ΡΕ ΜΟΡΤΗ, ΠΕΙΡΑΙΩΤΗ (1931) Pathe Γαλλίας X-80154, Γιώργος Αραπάκης/Μ. Σκουλούδης
(there is one more version with NOUROS)
First, the greek text:
Άειντε ρε μόρτη(*1), ρε Πειραιώτη, με τ΄άσπρο ζουναράκι(*2) σου και με τον κόφτη(*3),/μ΄αυτή την τόση τη λεβεντιά σου, ποτέ δε λείπει γκόμενα(*4) από κοντά σου./Όλο ουζάκια στα κουτουκάκια και τσάρκα ύστερα σ΄όλα τα στεναδάκια/κι όποια μπανίσεις και την τσατίσεις, δε σου γλυτώνει, βλάμη, θα την ξεμυαλίσεις/...
Όλο με φέρσιμο γκιουλέκικο(*5) χορεύεις, βλάμη, το ζεϊμπέκικο/και γιά να σβήσεις το μεράκι σου, τραβάς τον κόφτη από το ζουναράκι σου/
Χόρεψε λιγάκι, βρε Πειραιωτάκι, ένα χαβαδάκι(*6) μερακλίδικο/τώρα θα σου παίξει και το σαντουράκι ένα ζεϊμπεκάκι σεβνταλίδικο/Γειά χαρά σου, βρε λεβέντη, γειά σου βρε ντερβίση μου,/χορό, μεθύσι, γκόμενες και ζάρι, έτσι θα περνώ τη ζήση μου.
Cheer up Piraeus morti, with your white girdle and your knife/you are so chivalrous so that you always have a chick besides you/drinking ouzo in small tavernas and then promenades in narrow streets/any woman you see and make her angry, she can΄t slip away, you make her loose her mind/...
You dance, my lad, zeibekiko, in a gioulekiko way and instead of forgetting your meraki, you pick up the knife from your girdle/
Dance, you Piraeotaki, a havadaki meraklidiko, the sanduri will play, for your shake, a passionated zeibekaki./Cheer up, my chivalrus guy, cheer up my dervisi/Only with dance, drunkeness, chicks and dices, that's the way I spend my life...
I have used red letters for the words you probably do not know their meanings. Some further explanations:
1. μόρτης ο, μόρτισσα η, (mortis, mortisa) : almost impossible to translate and explain the word, even in greek. Be satisfied if I'm saying that it means a clever mangas with a right behaviour, loved by all...
2. ζουνάρι, ζωνάρι, ζουναράκι το, (zounari, zonari, zonarnaki) Ι've used the word girdle which is an underwear for women, worn round the wathat sist and hips, that supports and shapes the stomach, hips and bottom. Ιt is ecactly what I mean. Men used it -and still do, mostly oldies - in Balcan countries. You can see it clearly in the picture above.
3. κόφτης ο, (koftis) from the verb κόβω(kovo= cut) knife
4. γκόμενα (gomena) slang. The word has existed only in feminine form and meant a woman we are fond of, a woman with which we have a relation. Many women in Greece, mostly middle-aged, dislike it. The young girls don't bother at all and they use the word even in a male form (gomenos) .
5. γκιουλέκικο το, (derives from the name of an Albanian rebell called Gion Lekka) - I'm behaving as a gioulekas = terrify, pretend to be a bully.
6. χαβαδάκι(havadaki) dimun.(Τurkish. hava) tune, melody of a song
Me tis ygeies sas...