The night comes rolling in, it reels and it spins,

The light fights through the nighttime gloom.

I’m dirtier than sin, these rags are all I’m in,

And I’m so beat that I can barely move

So buy these little buns, these little hot buns,

Bring all your rubles over here.

On this bitter night look at my bitter plight,

Take pity on a private peddler-girl.

My father drinks too much, and lords it over us,

The booze will be his grave–he doesn’t care.

My sister walks the street, and my Mom’s a hopeless case

I even smoke too much, but hey, that’s life.

And there’s my boss, he had the curse of Cain,

And then he chased me out into the street, 

With only slop to eat, my nanny found me then,

And now I’m living in a craftsman’s house. 

Video/Audio: http://soviethistory.msu.edu/1924-2/nepmen/nepmen-music/hot-buns-bublichki-1928/

During the NEP era, the Communist regime worked hard to promote a growing socialist society in which all worked hard and all were happy. The song Bublichki, however, shines a different light on the daily livelihood of a common peasant. The underground song came into fruition in the 1920’s during the NEP era and describes the hardships of a poor Bublichki (hot buns or bagels) peddler-girl. This song would eventually be banned from the USSR until the late 1980’s but was passed down over generation by word of mouth. The song was also translated into a Yiddish version around the same time.

The interesting aspect of this song is the utter sense of hopelessness that can be felt from the peddler-girl. When she sings of her family, she talks about how her father being an alcoholic and how it will most likely kill him, how her sister walks the streets, her mom is a “hopeless case”, and how she smokes too much but in the end “that’s just life.” It is almost as if these hardships are so norm in the society that she has become numb to what is going on around her. One must therefore ask if this was a common experience of most peasants during the NEP era. Was the revolution as fulfilling to the peasant class as it made itself seem. The song and its censorship makes an argument that it may have not.


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Mass Culture in Soviet Russia (pg. 70-71)