SONG OF THE DAY Chet Atkins – Ochi Chornya (Dark Eyes)


Ochi Chornya, or perhaps better known as Dark Eyes, is a well-known and popular Russian romance song that captured my ears a while back when I luckily stumbled upon Chet Atkins rendition..but I’ll come back to this.

I’ve just been reading about the origins of this piece of music and it would appear that its roots go way back to the early 1800’s! Early/original versions had lyrics written by the poet and writer Yevgeny Grebyonka (Yevhen Hrebinka) who was of Ukrainian origin. The first publication of the poem was in Hrebinka’s own Russian translation in the newspaper, Literaturnaya Gazeta on 17 January 1843. A song using these lyrics has been traced to the 1870’s, but its melody is not known.

The melody now associated with the lyrics is identical to Valse homage by Florian Hermann which was published in 1879. In a book by James Fuld entitled The Book of World-famous Music: Classical, Popular,and Folk, Fult reports that a Soviet musicologist told him that the song is not “a Russian traditional song but a cabaret song”. Published in 1884 and reprinted as number 131 in a songbook by A. Gutheil in 1897, the song is there described as a “Gypsy romance based on the melody of Florian Hermann’s Valse Hommage“…

Whatever its origin and intention, this melody is most enchanting and the one of the earliest recorded versions I could find dates back to 1941 when Wingy Manone & His Orchestra issued on RCA-Victor’s subsidiary label, Bluebird Records.

Jump forward to 1956 and we can find Mr Guitar Atkins’ version included on his fifth studio album, Chet Atkins In Three Dimensions.  I’ve only really known of Chet Atkins as a guitarist, but writing this post I discovered that was also a producer for many of the big stars such as Elvis!! As a producer he was largely responsible for devising the Nashville Sound, which influenced and put a new slant on country music in the 60s and 70s!! You do learn something new every day! I love Chet Atkins interpretation of Dark Eyes. I love his intricate guitar wisps, the subtle-but-effective spine tingling twangs he puts at the end of phrases and the way his fingers can weave magical knots of multi-toned melodies..This is a stunning version!

Listen above and check out a live performance of him playing it below…

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The Listening Post Blog - A place to discover new sounds, where the music speaks for itself..
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1 Response to SONG OF THE DAY Chet Atkins – Ochi Chornya (Dark Eyes)

  1. Pingback: SONG OF THE DAY Chet Atkins – Blues in the Night |

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