Rebetes did not like money - really?
Young people in Greece are still saying : "what's the meaning of money when you are broke?" Τhis abstract, in first sight, game wih words and meanings is usual in Greece. Think of it while you're reading this post...
"My name is Marianthaki and I never loved money... "
"I hate money..." (Markos)
"Money mean nothing to me when I look into your eyes..." (Chiotis)
Only three examples among many, expressing dislikness towards money in rebetiko.
Ιt is useful to have in mind that rebetiko verses are written up to 98% by young men and the content was directed to young people. During the years of youth the reaction against money and the necessary demands instead of earning them is very common. Love and enjoyment have a primary importance. There is no hurry because the young people consider themselves as immortals.
There are no people who dislike money. There are people who despise money but this is something else. It is not that they don't like the advantages one wins through money. They are against the methods of earning them, because money cost a lot. Money is a very expensive article...
Here is an example of a song which sends the same message but through a clearer and more convincing way. It is the song of P. Toundas "Τα λεφτά σου δεν τα θέλω" (Ι don't want your money" -1934 either with Roza Eskenazi or Rita Abadzi). Ιt is one of the simplest and nicest songs in rebetiko.
I don't want your money, stop loving me!
I've told you several times, you're a noble mangas...
I want to be with a fish sailer, sailing fishes in the market,
I want him to have a pair of scales and a teziaki*
When I love such a fine and brave guy
how can I refuse to be with him?
I don't want your houses, your wealth and all that.
You can't convince me with your tricks, you're a noble mangas
*τεζιάκι (teziaki) = a small closet with a drawer where they put in the small money.
As you can see, the young woman denies to get together with a rich mangas (possibly much older than her) and she prefers a young man BUT a fish-saler something meaning automatically, a good economy.
The method of picking upp songs whose content is suitable instead of setting up another theory is very usual but dangerous and dishonest. I'm giving here a different example which gives a picture of the relity we all know...
Marikaki (.......) Skarvelis, Rita Abadzi
Why do you mind, Marikaki, and you ask why I'm getting drunk
and you're complaining I'm not coming to meet you?
The reason is that I know you're having fun with a mangas in Halandri
and you want me only for using my money
You love that mangas who is a handsome dais*
and you like me 'cause I have money
That's enough, Marikaki, you're cheeting me in three years
you need to spend my money instead of saying you love me.
I don't want you anymore, Marikaki, stop asking about me.
Yoy cruel, Marikaki, you got all I had, you bitsh!
*dais = bully(wrong word to explain the very interesting and deep meaning of the word dais. In a coming post I will give a wide explanation of this missunderstood word)
I would like to remind that, up to 1940, there are just a few songs naming workers (εργάτες). Τhe usual allibi that rebetes of the first period had no contacts with the limited working class is not enough, according my to my opinion. I can remind the songs "Εργάτης τιμημένος" (The hοnoured worker" - 1931, Panos Toundas, K. Dousas) and "Φτώχεια μαζί με την τιμή" (Poverty together with honour" 1934 - Panos Toundas, Rita Abadzi). In both cases the workers appear to be proud and honoured. In the song "Είμαι τεχνίτης ξακουστός" (I'm a serious craftsman/workman") - 1940, Κ. Skarvelis, G. Κavouras, we probably have the first sign of a man who tries to convince a woman to be with him though he is a worker...
Perhaps you feel it's boring to focuse on such details. I could understand that. I'm just trying to draw the curtains and show what is hiding behind...
Concerning the latter Tsitsanis song "Οι φάμπρικες" (The fabrics) - 1950, with Marika Ninou and Prodromos Tsaousakis, I've always been reserved towards the big composer's intelligent manoeuvres. The main verse is "Γειά σου, περήφανη κι αθάνατη εργατιά" (Cheers to the proud and immortal working class). The song is very famous and well-known. My personal problem is that I don't believe that workers were proud of what they were. In certain countries and during certain revolutionary periods, yes. Not in Greece, anyway...
If you disagree concerning Tsitsanis song, think of G. Mitsakis "Τα τρία αδέλφια" (Τhe three brothers) - 1950*, Marika Ninou, Tatasopoulos, Mitsakis) and think, why so much noise about Tsitsanis song and no comments about Mitsakis? The two songs have similar ncontent but what coused a contempt against Mitsakis song was his last verses "when we finish the jobb we go all three to drink. We don't give a dumn even if the whole world would be burned, one of plays the baglama, the second plays the bouzouki, the third the guitar and, let the poverty not harm us, just cheer up". Poor Mitsakis, he just used and old expression of joy in the wrong moment when all Greece was burning itself in a Civil War. But this expression is only an effort to avoid despair. If we did not have similar atittudes in Greece, we would not have existed as a nation, or we would exist as a nation full of lunatics and we are, in some way...
Consequently, I insist that it is an idealised myth to believe that rebetes did not like money. They proclaimed it because the chanses to have money were limited and because they were young so that they had the "luxury" to joke and being indifferent.
*Tsitsanis and Mitsakis were influenced by each others ideas about new songs and there is a lot of examples where they recorded songs with similar content, during the same year.