University of California: Los Angeles
This paper argues that the works of dissident Soviet bard Aleksandr Galich are best understood as folklore rather than literature, texts, or recordings. Since his songs were censored, live, person-to-person dissemination was crucial to their circulation. Unfortunately, though, the very underground, word-of-mouth mechanisms that allowed Galich to dodge censors has rendered historical record of his performative importance spotty.
Drawing on newly-available memoirs, this paper reframes Galich’s songs as a dialogue—with fans, other songwriters, and the Soviet government itself. Rather than a static, linear artist-to-fan relationship, emphasising the social bonds built through oral tradition deepens understanding of Galich’s project, his influence on major musical trends in the USSR, and his contemporary, postsocialist significance.