♫ Those Were The Days ♫

The origins of the melody appear to be strongly claimed by the Russians, and Russian gypsies consider it their song. The name of this song seems to be “Dorogo’ Dlinnoyu” and translated means “By a long road (or way)” or “Along a long road (or way)” or “On a long way.” Some sources claim it was written by two Russian composers – B. Fomin (music) and K. Podrevsky (lyrics) at the end of the 19th century or in the beginning of 20th century. There is another song, Russian title given as “Darogoi Dli Mayou.” calling itself “Dear to Me.” this too is supposed to be a version of “Dorogo Dlinnoyu,” first recorded by Alexander Wertinsky in the 1920s.

n 1962, Gene Raskin took the melody and wrote English lyrics to it. It was popularized in the US by the folk trio The Limeliters.  In 1965, Paul McCartney saw Raskin and his wife perform this in a London club. McCartney remembered the performance 3 years later, when The Beatles formed Apple Records. In 1968, British model Twiggy telephoned McCartney about a singer who performed on the UK TV program Opportunity Knocks (the US had a similar TV show in the ’90s – Star Search). Three-time winner Mary Hopkin was a 17-year-old from Wales who had people talking about her performances. McCartney returned to London and auditioned Hopkin. He was impressed by her voice and recommended that she record “an American folk song” that he heard a few years earlier, “Those Were the Days.”

The single was released simultaneously with the Beatles’ “Hey Jude.” While “Hey Jude” was #1 for nine weeks in the US, “Those Were the Days” was #2 for four of them and knocked the Beatles out of #1 in the UK charts. Not bad for the first two single releases of Apple Records.

Those Were The Days
Mary Hopkin

Once upon a time there was a tavern
Where we used to raise a glass or two
Remember how we laughed away the hours
And think of all the great things we would do

Those were the days my friend
We thought they’d never end
We’d sing and dance forever and a day
We’d live the life we choose
We’d fight and never lose
For we were young and sure to have our way
La la la la la la
La la la la la la
La la la la La la la la la la

Then the busy years went rushing by us
We lost our starry notions on the way
If by chance I’d see you in the tavern
We’d smile at one another and we’d say

Those were the days my friend
We thought they’d never end
We’d sing and dance forever and a day
We’d live the life we choose
We’d fight and never lose
Those were the days, oh yes those were the days
La la la la la la
La la la la la la
La la la la La la la la la la

Just tonight I stood before the tavern
Nothing seemed the way it used to be
In the glass I saw a strange reflection
Was that lonely woman really me

Those were the days my friend
We thought they’d never end
We’d sing and dance forever and a day
We’d live the life we choose
We’d fight and never lose
Those were the days, oh yes those were the days
La la la la la la
La la la la la la
La la la la La la la la la la
la la la la la la
La la la la la la
La la la la La la la la la la

Through the door there came familiar laughter
I saw your face and heard you call my name
Oh my friend we’re older but no wiser
For in our hearts the dreams are still the same

Those were the days my friend
We thought they’d never end
We’d sing and dance forever and a day
We’d live the life we choose
We’d fight and never lose
Those were the days, oh yes those were the days
La la la la la la
La la la la la la
La la la la La la la la la la
La la la la la la
La la la la la la
La la la la La la la la la la

Source: LyricFind
Songwriters: Gene Raskin
Those Were The Days (Remastered 1991) lyrics © T.R.O. Inc.

21 thoughts on “♫ Those Were The Days ♫

  1. For the first time ever I have to say that unequivocally I do not like this song and never have. Not sure if it was her monotone or the tone of of the song itself but even as a young girl the sound of it grated on me, made me feel too sad.

    Liked by 1 person

  2. I will ask for your kind forbearance before typing another word…because much as the Mary Hopkin’s version is known and preferred by many, I must take exception to that view. The Limeliters, as you briefly noted, released the first Gene Raskin English version of this song. This was on their 1962 album “Folk Matinee” which I still have packed away amidst the many other vinyl albums from those early years of mine. The album was not originally mine but was given to my elder Sister by the boyfriend that she dumped along with everything that he had given to her. I saved this album from destruction along with several others and kept them out of her sight, which was all that she requested in return for allowing me to claim them as my own. The Limeliters were actually a rather short lived folk music group, from about 1959 to the mid 60’s. I believe that there is still a version of the reunited Limeliter group from the late 70’s or early 80’s that no longer includes any of the three original members after the only surviving member retired years ago. Glen Yarbrough is probably the best known of the original members as he had a fairly good solo career after leaving the group in 1963, you might remember his “Baby the Rain Must Fall”. But, how can anyone not remember the original Limeliters 1963 jingle for the Coca-Cola company that was a huge hit on TV : “Things Go Better with Coke”!! Were you to ask I could still sing it in its entirety! I loved that jingle then and now, even though I stopped drinking Coke a long time ago…somehow the cans never measured up to those iconic glass bottles! Thank-you!

    Liked by 2 people

    • Wow, Ellen! As always, your knowledge and instant-recall memory never cease to amaze me! I definitely do remember Glenn Yarbrough and “Baby the Rain Must Fall”, and … others, though I cannot name one at the moment. Thank you, my friend, for sharing those memories … and I agree, the Coke always tasted better out of those thick green glass bottles!

      Like

  3. Oh I really do love this version! Yes I do believe the original melody is based on old Russian folk music and lyrics attributed to a Russian Jewish composer, it was hard to claim copyright those days.

    English Lyrics translated from Russian ;

    We rode on a triple with bells,
    And in the distance lights flickered.
    Eh, when would I now follow you,
    Soul to dispel from longing!

    Chorus:

    Dear long, yes moonlit night
    Yes, with the song that flies into the distance, ringing,
    Yes with the old, yes seven-stringed,
    That at night so tormented me.

    Yes, it turns out we sang for free.
    In vain they burned them night after night.
    If we are done with the old,
    So these nights have departed!

    Chorus.

    To the other – in new ways –
    We are destined to go by fate!
    We rode on a triple with bells,
    Yes, now we drove a long time.

    Liked by 1 person

Leave a Reply

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

WordPress.com Logo

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

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google 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 )

Connecting to %s