Originally, klezmer (plural klezmorim) referred to musical instruments, and was later extended to refer to musicians themselves. It was not until the mid-to-late 20th Century that the word was used to identify a musical genre. Early 20th Century recordings and writings most often refer to the style as "Yiddish" music, although it is also sometimes called Freilech music. Compared to most other European folk music styles, very little is known about the history of klezmer music, and much of what is said about it must be seen as conjecture.
Jump to: Overall Meaning ↴ Line by Line Meaning ↴
they call it night
and I know it well.
The lyrics of Beirut's song The Gulag Orkestar are simple yet enigmatic. The repeated phrase "they call it night" seems to be the central focus of the song. One possible interpretation is that the line represents a metaphor for the darkness and uncertainty of life. The singer acknowledges that they "know it well," which suggests that they have experienced the emotional and psychological turmoil associated with difficult times.
The repeated phrase "they call it night" could also reference the sense of isolation and desperation experienced by the prisoners in the Soviet gulags. These labor camps were notorious for their harsh conditions and the torture endured by its inmates. The use of an "orkestar," or orchestra, in the title of the song is likely a nod to the musical ensembles that were sometimes used to entertain the prisoners or to accompany the forced labor. The somber tone of the song, along with the lyrics that evoke themes of despair and hardship, creates a haunting atmosphere that lingers long after the song has ended.
Line by Line Meaning
They call it night
The darkness that engulfs the streets during the nighttime is referred to as night.
they call it night
The darkness of night is not just limited to one place or person, and it is a common term used globally.
and I know it well
The singer has experienced and become familiar with the darkness referred to as night.
This line is not a part of the lyrics and therefore holds no meaning to the song.
Lyrics © O/B/O APRA AMCOS
Lyrics Licensed & Provided by LyricFind