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Those Were The Days

by

Mary Hopkin



Songfacts®:  You can leave comments about the song at the bottom of the page.

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. (thanks, Pat - www.maryhopkin.net)
In the 1950s Annikki Tahtiand recorded this in her native Finnish language.
In 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.
McCartney produced the recording session for this and played acoustic guitar.
In the UK, Apple Records was introduced to the public by a boxed set of their first four singles -- "Hey Jude," "Those Were the Days," "Thingumybob" (a TV theme song written by McCartney), and "Sour Milk Sea" (a song sung by Jackie Lomax and written/produced by George Harrison). (thanks, Brad Wind - Miami, FL, for all above)
Versions of the song were also recorded in Spanish, French, Italian and German by Hopkin and McCartney. John Lennon's first wife, Cynthia, also recorded a version. (thanks, Jes - Mason City, IA)
Cream has a song by the same name released in the same year. The 2 songs seem to be completely unrelated. The song was written by Mike Taylor and Cream's drummer, Ginger Baker. (thanks, Ethan - Ridgely, MD)
Other artists who have covered this song include the 5th Dimension, Chet Atkins, Carol Burnett, Max Bygraves, Dexter Gordon, Robert Goulet, Engelbert Humperdinck, Wanda Jackson, Johnny Mathis, Jerry Vale, The Ventures and Bobby Vinton. (thanks, Jerro - New Alexandria, PA)
The despotic president of the African country of Equatorial Guinea Macias Nguema (1924-1979) was a complete and utter sadist. He liked to have thousands bludgeoned to death in the local football stadium as a military band played this song.
Mary Hopkin
More Mary Hopkin songs
More songs that were also recorded in other languages
More songs about looking back on fond memories
More songs that were an artist's first hit

Comments (15):

On February 7th 1969, Mary Hopkin performed "Those Were The Days" on the ABC-TV program 'This Is Tom Jones'...
Five months earlier on September 22nd, 1968 it entered Billboard's Hot Top 100 chart at position #70; and on October 27th, 1968 it peaked at #2 (for 3 weeks) and spent 14 weeks on the Top 100 (and for 7 of those 14 weeks it was on the Top 10)...
And on the same day that it peaked at #2 on the Top 100 it reached #1 (for 6 weeks) on Billboard's Adult Contemporary Tracks chart...
Ms. Hopkin will celebrate her 64th birthday in three months on May 3rd (2014).
- Barry, Sauquoit, NY
This song runs FIVE minuts, and it is every bit worth OF it. My single is a UNDERGROUND records reissue.
- Steve, Whittier, CA
The Leningrad Cowboys is actually a Finnish rock band, not Russian. Aki Kaurismaki, a Finnish film director is the person with the original idea contributing music to his short films 'Rocky VI' (1986) 'Thru The Wire' (1987) and they started out as a fictional band in the film 'L. A. Woman' (1988) and in the feature length film 'Leningrad Cowboys Go America' (1989). The founding members are Sakke Jarvenpaa and Mato Valtonen. Kaurismaki directed their video of 'Those Were The Days' in 1992. The Russians were the 70 member Alexandrov Ensemble with whom they sang the Lynyrd Skynyrd song 'Sweet Home Alabama' at the 11th Annual MTV Music Awards at the Radio City Music Hall in New York in 1994. This performance was watched by an estimated 250 million people.
- Stella, London, United Kingdom
This is a very nice song by mary hopkin. I have the 1968 single on apple records. 6/23/10.
- James, yucaipa, CA
This was considered to be part of the international communist conspiracy to sap and impurify all of our precious bodily fluids. Fearless Christian anti-rock crusader Dr. David Noebel had some pretty harsh words for poor Miss Hopkin at the time. In his book "The Beatles, a Study in Drugs, Sex and Revolution", he stated that she "almost gave the whole show away" in an interview where she had the unmitigated nerve to state that "everything Russian is fashionable now".
- Ekristheh, Halath, United States
The recording by Susan Lainey in 2003 was used by Nip Tuck in 2005 in the Ellie episode..not sure of the number ..The story is on her website. www.susanlainey.com
- Carole, Dennis, MA
not 100% sure but i think it is spelt darogoi dlimmo hope this helps
- jeff, liverpool, England
Hi Susan. So, what series are you talking about, because I don't see your name credited on anything on IMDb. In fact, for the soundtrack listing of "Those were the Days"...the only thing listed for anything near 2005 was Naomi's Moring...and it says it was sung by Dolly Parton.
- Mary, Phoenix, AZ
Mary Hopkin's recording of "Those were the days" will in 2008 be 40 years old... It is in my opinion the definitive recording. No one else sings it like she does. Also a wonderful live recording from 1972 was released last year and can be obtained from her own official website maryhopkin.com it is superb.
- Pat, Barry
There is a "russian" cover in english by the Leningrad Cowboys (1992), closing the circle from Russia to the Uk and back to Russia.
- Jean-Louis, Leuven, Belgium
I am a singer for healthcare facilities around New England. I've been singing this song for about 35 years and people of all ages seem to love it. It is my "magical song" . So much so that I recorded it in 2003 and in Oct 2005, my version was featured on an internationally broadcasted American major television series. Susan Lainey New Bedfor MA USA
- Susan Rezendes, New Bedford, MA
I heard this song a long time ago when I was a kid, and stuck to me until I finally tracked it down with the advent of the Web. Very sad and melancholic, but with hope at the end. I love it.
- Jorge, Mexicali, Mexico
Cynthia Lennon record this song in 1995.
This record was produced by Chris Norman, ex-leader of british group Smokie, nowadays succesful solo performer
- Roman, Saint-Petersburg, Europe
A Japanese version of this song was used in an animae production whose plot dealt with a future society where people could live forever by transfering themselves into a robotic body. The procedure could not be reversed and those who did it found their new existence lacking in some of the pleasures and sensations we take for granted. There is a scene where this song plays and stirrs up a longing for these beings human pasts.

"Nothing seemed to be the way it used to be" indeed.

Thanks to my son Riki (12) and daughter Mari (9) for bringing this to my attention.
- Ken, Houston, TX
Actually the original Russian version is Doroga Dlinaya(not sure of spelling in these letters) and it means the long road
- Cathy, Sherwood Park, Canada
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