10 Georgian songs you need to know

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Tbilisi Free Online Tours – The Bridge of Peace
Tbilisi Free Online Tours – King Vakhtang Gorgasali

If you are like me and like discovering all the aspects of new culture, with special emphasis on music, then you are in the right place. I have carefully picked out 10 Georgian songs in variety of genres and from different time periods. I also provided explanation to every song, which I think will be interesting for you. I’ve also added some of my personal favorites, so you can also check them out 😉
I hope you will enjoy them!

1. Giya Kancheli – Is ak aris (She is here) 

About the artist:
Giya Kacheli was a musical genius. He was born in 1935 and was one of the most distinguished composers and leading figures in the world of contemporary music. His music is deeply spiritual and is filled with varied colors, textures and sharp contrasts. Giya’s style formation owes his work in the theater.
“Music, like life itself, is inconceivable without romanticism. Romanticism is a high dream of the past, present, and future–a force of invincible beauty which towers above, and conquers, the forces of ignorance, bigotry, violence, and evil.” – Giya Kancheli.

Personal favorite: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=V1LwspPYpLY
This song is just masterpiece. It holds so much emotion and is so easily transmitted to the listener.

About the song: The song “She is here” was used in the movie “Sherekilebi” (Mad people). Movie about two people mad in love who because of consequences are trapped in a prison together. They live with the hope, that their lovers are next to them and that their sorrowful waiting will end soon.


2. Revaz Laghidze – Tbiliso

About the author: Revaz Laghidze was Georgian composer and author of many famous songs. He is Georgia’s national treasure and very beloved person. He mostly wrote songs for movies.
If you ever have a chance to attend “sufra”, there is high chance someone will get the guitar and start playing one of his songs.

Personal favorite:  https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=x_ceSlL7Txw

About the song: He wrote the song “Tbiliso (song about Tbilisi)” in 1958 for the Georgian movie “In the sunny side”. The song premiere was during the interval of a football match and since then it became a huge hit. “Tbiliso” is the song that every Georgian knows.
There was some controversy around this song and the song by Gery Scott – “Stay with me”, which was written in 1962. The melody is the same, but unfortunately nobody has mentioned the name of Revaz on the label. In that year British weekly music newspaper “Record Mirror” reviewed the “stay with me” and wrote: “Very professional top side from Gery, who is the singer who did so well in Russia recently. But hardly chart potential. It’s a slow, dreamy very high class ballad.” So seems like, she heard this song during her tour in Russia and made this song her own. Check out: Stay with me


3. Chakrulo – Song sent in space

About the song:“Chakrulo” is a song that was recorded on a Voyager’s golden record and was sent to space alongside with other specially chosen unique treasures from the world. The record was called “The sounds of the earth”. “Chakrulo” is a Georgian polyphonic song that amazed John Casani, the mastermind behind this mission.
Let’s hope that aliens will enjoy Georgian polyphonic singing!


4. Nino Katamadze – Violets

About the artist: Nino Katamadze is a free-spirited, expressive and a wonderful Georgian singer and song-writer. Her songs are like fuel to your soul. Every song is charged with incredible amount of emotions. Nino doesn’t have particular style of music. Sometimes you don’t even have to know the Georgian to fully understand and feel the songs. One of those kinds of songs is Olei (https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=yU16V2LTP6I), which doesn’t even have any words. She’s just singing the feeling and not the words.
Nino Katamadze’s life performances are mostly based on improvisation and communication with the crowd. It’s just a blast, so if you ever have a chance to attend her live shows, please, don’t miss out on that opportunity.

Personal favorite: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=94yXnSijwjQ

About the song: The lyrics to this song is yet so simple, but complicated. Song is about asking lover to open their heart another loving heart and soul. Lyric is just beautiful and is loved by Georgian people.


5. KayaKata – Polo Palace

About the artist: KayaKata is a Georgian electro-pop/hip-hop project created by Maxime Machaidze and Zurab Jishkariani. Their work mostly contains songs largely inspired by the trauma of growing up in civil war. They’ve written some songs about the protests in Tbilisi for civilian demonstrations against police brutality.

About the song: Polo palace is the part of the album called “Sadaa”. Every line of the song is full of metaphors and has intentional place in lyrics. Most of the references are about Marijuana, which is in their name as well, since Kaya is a Jamaican slang for Marijuana.
I’ve also heard that It’s famous amongst ambassadors 😉 Here’s a video of ambassador of Israel singing this song They are quite cool, definitely check them out!


6. Irakli Charkviani – Me gadmovtsurav Zgvas (I will swim the sea)

About the artist: Irakli Charkviani also-known-as under his pseudonym “Mephe” (meaning “The king”), was Georgian poet, prose writer and musician. He was known for his eccentric image and poetry. His music mostly fell under alternative rock, electronic music and hip-hop genres. In 2013 he was awarded Georgia’s Rustaveli Prize for “his significant contribution to the development of contemporary Georgian culture”.
Personal favorite: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=RQrcOTxUpL8&t=2s

About the song: This song is very dear and known for Georgian people and it has got very dramatic history behind it. It is about free-thinker youngsters who tried to steal the plane and escape the brutal frames of Soviet Union in 1980’s. They were known as “airplane boys” and one of them was a close friend of Irakli.

In 2008 Dato Turashvili wrote a book about them called “Flight from the U.S.S.R.” or “Jeans Generation”. Now I’ll translate the most powerful fragment from this book and everything will make sense to you:
“Russian investigator remained silent for a while, he was thinking about Irakli’s answers. He still couldn’t figure out what this young Georgian man wanted and asked the final question to break the awkward silence:
– What if you can’t fly?
– Then I will swim the sea.
– What?
– The sea.
– How?
– While singing.
– Are you joking?
– No.
– Is that how I should write in interrogation protocol?
– Yes.
– Exactly how to write it?
– Literally.
– How?
– I will swim the sea…”


7. Bedford Falls – MERMISI

“We are the band and we write masterpieces, no big deal”

About the band: Bedford Falls was founded in 2014 by Dato Jikia, Mikhael Kalandarishvili, Giorgi Migriauli and Sandro Diasamidze. Some of you might recognize the name and yes, it’s a place from the movie “It’s a wonderful life”. Band members say that they don’t fit in a particular category and every song is a new genre and adventure. But most of their songs are indie-rock.

About this song: Music video is a masterpiece! The word “Mermisi” in Christianity is associated with afterlife.
Video starts and ends with the scene from movie “What did Iavnana do?” (Iavnana is an old Georgian lullaby, but in the past, it was used for casting a spell over diseased people for treating them.). In the first scene people are casting a spell on child, who is infected and has high temperature. “As you know, high temperature causes hallucinations. It seems like a child sees everything that happens to Georgia and Georgian people in the future. The contrast of old life infused with traditions and modern life creates satirical nightmare… At the end of the music video child wakes up from nightmare and this gives us hope for future.”- We can read in video’s comment section. Just watch the music video, listen to the song, check out this incredible Georgian Group and you’ll thank me later ;).


8. Jansugh Kakhidze – Mukhambazi

About the artist: Jansugh Kakhidze was Georgian conductor, composer and singer born in 1936. He was the first person to introduce Georgian folk singing and opera to the world. Jansugh created the songs that can last several centuries.

Personal favorite: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=CLd0m7az0e8

About the song: The word – Mukhambazi is Persian style of poetry, which has got cinquain (5 lines) rhyme type. The song was in the movie “Racha – my love” in the part when Zauri sings this it as serenade to his lover Darina. The scene is very iconic and known by EVERY Georgian. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=5Bd_bZg2jAA


9. Bani – Rachuli

The choir singing is one of the things that reflects national Georgian authenticity and is recognized by UNESCO as a world’s masterpiece of polyphony. This unique singing style was formed during the centuries and was transmitted from generation to generation.
I’m pretty sure, if you’ve heard of Georgia, you’ve also heard of Georgian dances, which are so colorful, interesting, diverse and energetic. Dances are huge part of Georgian culture and every Georgian, whether they know how to dance, or have o clue what they’re doing, still give dancing a shot and usually it DOES end well. So if you have a chance to attend Georgian wedding or some celebration, don’t miss the chances.

About the band: The band “Bani” was founded in 2011 and they are writing and covering Georgian folk songs. They give new life to old songs and are quite famous in Georgia.


10. Lili Gegelia – Lurji Iebi (Blue violets)

About the artist: Lili Gegelia was born in 1923. She was a famous Jazz singer and was known for her delicate and angelic voice.

About the song: This song reminds me of old Tbilisi, with French vibes. Song is just pleasant and if you enjoy listening to calm and soothing music, this will definitely interest you.

By Anano Ghibradze