Greek Music: Discovering the Greek singer-songwriter Dionysis Savvopoulos

Dionysis Savvopoulos is a prominent Greek singer-songwriter loved by Greeks of all ages. He first became popular in Greece in the 60s and 70s.
When I moved to Greece, I was soon introduced to his music, saw many of his live concerts, and became fan!

Continue reading to discover more about this life and work, and to listen to one of his most well-known songs and practice your comprehension skills.

His story

Savvopoulos was born in the city of Thessaloniki in 1944. Even though he enrolled in the Aristotle University to study law, he dropped out after the first year of his studies and went south to Athens. There he took on various odd jobs and eventually began singing and playing guitar in various night clubs. Even though he was not a particularly gifted singer, his talent in songwriting impressed the director of a local record company, who decided to sign him.

His work

Savvopoulos writes most of his songs, including both the music and the lyrics. He is still performing as a singer from time to time, but he is no longer writing songs. Throughout his career, he has experimented with different music genres, including Greek rock, laiko (Greek folk music), Balkan sounds and rebetiko.

He has always been very vocal about his political beliefs, which shows in the lyrics of his songs as well. In 1967, he was beaten and briefly imprisoned by the Greek military junta of 1967-1974 as a result.

Savvopoulos has more than ten studio albums under his belt and another handful of live recordings from his concerts. Between 1986-7, he also presented a Greek TV show called “Ζήτω το Ελληνικό Τραγούδι” (en. Long Live the Greek Song), which was dedicated to contemporary Greek music.

And now time for a song…

 Time to listen to one of his songs, “Η Συννεφούλα” (en. The Little Cloud Girl), which was included in his record “Το Φορτηγό” (en. Cargo) and released in 1966. Even though it has a cheerful tone and it refers to a person sweetly called “little cloud girl”, the lyrics talk about a tumultuous relationship between two people. According to one of his interviews though, he was only a 16-year old high school student when he wrote the song.

 The title of the record was inspired by his own experience as a young man when he had to hitchhike all the way to Athens in cargo trucks.

You can click here to hear the song on YouTube while you read the lyrics below. As the video is from a live concert, the actual singing starts around min 2:34 of the video, and it also gives you an idea of how talkative and theatrical Savvopoulos can be on stage!

 

Είχα μια αγάπη, αχ καρδούλα μου,

που ‘μοιαζε συννεφάκι, συννεφούλα μου.

I had a love, my sweetheart,

that looked like a little cloud, my little cloud girl.

Σαν συννεφάκι φεύγει ξαναγυρνάει

μ’ αγαπά τη μια την άλλη με ξεχνάει.

Like a little cloud, she’d leave then come back, one day she’d love me, the next one she’d forget me.
Κι ένα βράδυ αχ καρδούλα μου

διώχνω ξαφνικά τη συννεφούλα μου.

And one night, oh my poor heart,

I suddenly forced my little cloud girl out.

Δεν αντέχω άλλο πια να με γελάει

μ’ αγαπάει τη μια την άλλη με ξεχνάει.

I cannot bear it any longer for her to treat me like a fool, one day she loves me the next she forgets me.
Κι έρχεται ο Απρίλης αχ καρδούλα μου

να κι ο Μάης συννεφούλα μου.

And April comes, my sweetheart

and so does May my little cloud girl.

Δίχως τραγούδι, δάκρυ και φιλί

δεν είναι άνοιξη φέτος αυτή.

Without a song, a tear and a kiss,

it’s not a real spring this year.

Συννεφούλα, συννεφούλα να γυρίσεις σου ζητώ

και τριγύρνα μ’ όσους θέλεις κάθε βράδυ.

Little cloud girl, I’m asking you to come back

and you can run around with as many (men) you want every night.

Δεν αντέχω άλλο να ‘μαι μοναχός

μ’ αγαπάς τη μια κι ας με ξεχνάς την άλλη.

 

I cannot stand being alone any longer

one day you love me the next you forget me.

In this video on YouTube, you can also see some footage from a concert we attended with Omilo students.
It was a new year concert where Savvopoulos performed, followed by Machairitsas – such an amazing, unforgettable evening!
https://youtu.be/6ep153BwFmI

 

Happy listening!

Do you also like Greek music? Who is your favorite singer/composer?

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