Petit Boris et Natacha

This post celebrates Christmas in an indirect way – there are some sleigh-bells and images of snowy forests in this song. But it also recalls a marvelous moment in the mid-80’s when I was doing a homestay program in France. The 7-year old daughter of my host family began to sing a hauntingly beautiful song to me one day. I kept asking her to repeat the lyrics so I could learn it. I noticed Russian words, along with  references to the Ukraine, the Czarina, etc. There were some words I recognized, such as a troïka [sleigh], but there were many I did not know.

Although I could not find out too much about the song, it appears it was popularized by a French author of children’s songs named Jean Naty-Boyer. Whether he wrote it or just transcribed it I do not know.

The thing I love about this mysterious song is the unavoidable association with the Commie spy Natasha, and her sidekick Boris Badenov from Rocky and Bullwinkle cartoons.  As a kid, I loved the Rocky & Bullwinkle Show but I did not grasp until many years later that its creator was spoofing Communist undercover agents.  I had a big crush on Natasha – her deep and throaty voice still turns me on. I can still hear her saying “we must crush this little squirrel” in reference to Rocky. Turns out it was June Foray I was in love with! I heard they made a full-length movie about Boris and Natasha a while back, but I will NEVER watch it. My heart will always belong to the mid-60’s original (same can be said for Emma Peel and John Steed, the original Avengers – but that’s for a future post). All of this only brings greater richness to the original song, which shows influence from Russia. If anyone knows about the origins of this folk song, please comment below. Enjoy your ride through the Ukrainian winter forests in the troïka, with Boris, Natasha and the animals – it’s not quite Jingle Bells but I find it even more appealing.

Dans la forêt blanche d’UkraineDans la troika
Glisse une blanche troïka
Dans le silence elle promène
Petit Boris et Natacha

Raconte-nous, petite mère,
Ce qu’ils ont vu sur le chemin
Raconte-nous, petite mère
Jusqu’à demain

Chez la Tsarine

Chez la Tsarine

Ils rencontrent la zibeline,
Le renard bleu et puis le loup
Si vous allez chez la Tsarine
Voulez-vous nous prendre avec vous ?

{au Refrain}

Nous n’allons pas chez la Tsarine
Nous retournons à notre isba
Loup et renard et zibeline
Sont montés dans la troïka

{au Refrain}

Et tous ensemble, ils s’en reviennent
Serrés pour ne pas avoir froid
Dans la forêt blanche d’Ukraine
Avec Boris et Natacha

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s