Disco song Boney M. (Boney M.) - Rasputin (1978)
"Rasputin" (Rasputin) is a legendary song written by members of the disco-pop group Boney M. The song was released on the 1978 studio album Nightflight to Venus. The songwriters are Frank Farian, George Reyam and Fred Jay. It is dedicated to Grigory Rasputin, one of the most mysterious characters of the early 20th century, adviser and friend of the Russian Emperor Nicholas II. The image of the hero of the song is the image of a smart and charming manipulator who managed to take a place at court and become the chief healer of the state.
Grigory Efimovich Rasputin (1869–1916)
Grigory Rasputin was born into a modest peasant family, but during his life he became an important political figure. It is said that as a child he performed miracles. The turning point in his fate came when the boy began to have visions - according to Rasputin, the Most Holy Theotokos appeared to him. So he began to preach, heal and gather like-minded people.
Rasputin's fame grew. Luck brought him to the capital, where stories of the preacher's abilities reached the Empress, who was desperate to find a cure for her hemophiliac son. Rasputin, summoned to the palace, was able to "cure" the prince, although not for long. The empress was very impressed, and insisted that the medicine man be left at court.
After that, Rasputin's power grew stronger every day. The aristocracy attended his sermons, relying on his advice and believing in his ability to heal. Noble ladies were especially disposed towards him. The way of life at court revealed the other side of Rasputin - the medicine man was a little like a saint, devoting too much time to alcohol and women.
Dissatisfaction with the imperial family grew, including because of the behavior of Rasputin. The emperor's associates insisted that Nikolai send him away, but Alexandra Feodorovna saw in Gregory the only opportunity to save her son, again and again saving the healer from disgrace.
As a result, the nobles decided to kill an objectionable figure. There are many sinister myths about Rasputin's death - for example, that neither poison nor bullets affected him. However, as a result of the conspiracy, Rasputin was killed. Before his death, he warned the empress that he would die within a year. According to him, if this happens at the hands of the nobility, then the imperial family will be killed two years after his death, and their bloodline will be eradicated. To some extent, this prediction came true.
The mystery of Rasputin, stories about his inexplicable abilities, left a mark not only in the history of Russia, but also in world culture. For example, the Boney M. group turned to his image.
Structure and message of the song
Disco hit "Boney M." - a chronicle of the ups and downs of Grigory Rasputin. The hero of the song embodies rather popular ideas about the personality of a famous preacher than the real facts of his biography, but this does not make him any less charming.
The bright drums and claps of the "Boney M." intro create the atmosphere of a folk tale, preparing the listener for an unusual story. Drums and handclaps are then joined by a mood-setting balalaika, soon followed by a deep bass sound. The original melody quickly won the hearts of the band's fans, and the song became a real disco anthem.
The musicians succeeded in interestingly emphasizing the duality of Rasputin's nature. Male vocals tell about the dark side of his personality - for example, that those around him were frightened by his uncontrollable thirst for power. However, the women's choir immediately clarifies with admiration that Rasputin was a huge success with the ladies, and calls him "Russia's greatest love machine".
Rumors about Rasputin became the material for creating the composition. According to them, in the text he became the lover of the Empress, who secretly ruled the country. The end of the song also refers to the legends, this time about the death of a medicine man. For example, it contains the line: "He drank it all and he said" I feel fine "", retelling the rumors that Rasputin did not even notice the strong poison with which they tried to poison him, and noted only that the wine served was not bad.
Death of Rasputin
On December 30, 1916 (December 17, old style), a group of noblemen, led by the husband of the emperor's niece, Prince Felix Yusupov, killed Rasputin. It is the prince who owns the version that Rasputin was not affected by the strongest poison, which Yusupov generously served with food.
The reality of this fact is still being debated, but the story of Rasputin's invulnerability has definitely become an integral part of his image. This is how he appears in the song “Boney M.” dedicated to him.
Other versions of the song (covers)
Subsequently, this composition was performed by several other groups in different musical styles. Consider the most interesting versions.
A folk metal band from Finland called "Turisas" recorded their cover of the song about Rasputin.
The Spanish band Fangoria included this song on their compilation Dilemas, amores y dramas.
Russia also distinguished itself, namely, the metal cover project Even Blurry Videos. Their version of the track was published on YouTube in the summer of 2019.
The song was released on August 28, 1978 as part of the Nightflight to Venus album. She quickly reached the top positions in the charts in Germany and Austria, Switzerland and the United Kingdom, Canada and Australia. The composition did not hit only the US ratings.
In terms of critical reception, AllMusic described the single as "weirdest, most unusual and interesting, in part because of the unique combination of musical elements ...".
Despite the fact that the composition was written and performed in English, it gained great success on the territory of the Soviet Union. However, in the USSR, "Rasputin" was never included in the album "Nightflight to Venus", and "Boney M." was strictly forbidden to perform his extraordinary hit during the tour in December 1978.
Popularity on TikTok in 2020-2021
In 2020, a new trend has appeared on the TikTok social network: to find cool old songs and record clips on them. "Rasputin" by Boney M. has not been forgotten.
Boney M. frontman Bobby Farrell passed away on December 30, 2010 in a hotel in St. Petersburg, a few hours after the concert. Rasputin also died in Petersburg on December 30th.