Music

No 'shame' in Polish punk band's prophetic songs from the past

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The Polish punk band Hanba!
Credit:

Michaê Szwerc

Twenty-eight years isn't very long for a democracy to take root. And you could say, Poland is having growing pains.

The country shed communism in favor of democracy in 1989, but today, critics say that democracy is in trouble. The European Union is among the critics. Poland is a member of the EU, but the union is sanctioning the country and threatening to suspend its voting rights.

The debate over Poland's path is reaching far beyond the political realm; it's also playing out in the country's music scene. Take the Polish punk band, Hańba!

"Hańba stands for disgrace or shame," says Adam Sobolewski, the band's drummer. "It's some kind of shout used in a protest or in the political stage against someone who is doing something disgraceful."

Hańba! has a lot to shout about these days.

What's interesting is that the group wrote music to lyrics written by Polish poets in the 1920s and '30s. The band sees some strong parallels between then and now.

For example, there have been crackdowns on dissent, as well as the rise of nationalism and xenophobia. It appears democracies are fracturing.

There are some other chilling echoes of the past, like the song, "Puste Samoloty." The lyrics, from the 1930s, seem to contain an eerie premonition about today's drone warfare.

Sobolewski says the song "translates into empty planes. The lyrics were written by Jerzy Jurandot, a forgotten Polish poet. The lyrics tell about what could happen in a future war. There would be empty planes striking one another. Empty battleships. Empty tanks that would just be radio controlled, fighting one another. This is something prophetic ... the empty planes, we have them now."

But the nightmares of past decades don't overwhelm any hope for the future of Poland. Sobolewski is still optimistic. "I'm still hoping that we are still on the path that could be reversed ... and what we sing about would stay in history and won't repeat itself with all the horrors it could bring."

In Arts, Culture & MediaMusicPoliticsGlobal PoliticsGlobal Hit.

Tagged: KrakowEuropePolandAdam Sobolewski.