Tuesday, January 20, 2009

The "Shimmy" Song

In We the Living, Kira--an individual struggling to survive in a totalitarian state--attends an operetta by Emmerich Kalman called Die Bajadere.

"It was the most wanton operetta from over there, from abroad. It was like a glance straight through the snow and the flags, through the border, into the heart of the other world.

"There were colored lights, and spangels, and crystal goblets, and a real foreign bar with a dull glass archway where a green light moved slowly upward, preceding every entrance--a real foreign elevator.

"There were women in shimmering satin from a place where fashions existed, and people dancing a funny foreign dance called 'Shimmy,' and a woman who did not sing but barked words out, spitting them contemptuously at the audience, in a flat, hoarse voice that trailed suddenly into a husky moan--and a music that laughed defiantly, panting, gasping, hitting one's throat and breath, an impudent drunken music, like the 'Song of Broken Glass,' a promise that existed somewhere, that was, that could be."

This is a video of that song as it is still performed in Russia today. One can hear in it still those elements that were abstracted away and became, for Kira, the "Song of Broken Glass."


  1. Thank you...Ive been searching for this song...the song Ayn Rand describes as "the song of broken glass" sience I was 14teen! Im 4tee now and my wish has finally come true...Thank YOU!

  2. Wow. I feel great to be the person that made the introduction!