Moacir P. de Sá Pereira on September 16th, 2010

Tomukas asked on Twitter on Monday:

3M vėl be Marijono per krepšininkų sutikimą, per didelio honoraro užsiprašė?

I didn’t really think about the question that much until I saw this morning’s post by Užkalnis on Marijono Mikutavičiaus “redemption.” Apparently Mikutavičiaus decision not to perform his (sports) anthem “Trys milijonai” at the celebration in Vilnius commemorating the bronze medal won by the Lithuanians caused enough of a stir in Lithuania that he had to publish in Lietuvos rytas a terse list of reasons why he didn’t show. I’ll quickly rehash the list here (in convenient English format):

  1. It wasn’t a money thing (despite Tomuko tweet).
  2. It’s not an issue of not being patriotic.
  3. A person should not be held hostage by his previous work. Šaras isn’t asked to recreate his 3 against the US in 2004.
  4. The creator has no control over the influence of his work; hence the response of the fans should not be assumed to be in line with that of the creator.
  5. Singing the song would be a self-aggrandizing move, seeing as it was not responsible for what the men managed on their own on the court.
  6. “Trys milijonai” has long since ceased being the property of its creators. It is the property of the nation. (This will end up the key claim below.)
  7. Sometimes you want to celebrate something not by being on stage.
  8. There will be other chances for him to sing it. (I’m not sure I understood this point precisely.)
  9. Why is this an issue, anyway? ((For another non-issue, see Algio Ramanausko call for a manhunt for the tagger Solomon. Any sympathy I had with the crusade—and, granted, there was already pretty much no sympathy—completely disappeared when Ramanauskas asserted that the ultimate cause of the protest was the tagging of his friend’s mikruškė.))

I’m on Mikutavičiaus side here, for the most part. I mean, it was nice to see Neil Diamond open this disaster of a season with a rendition of “Sweet Caroline” at Fenway, but I would never have demanded such a thing or speculated as to why he hadn’t done it before (or since). If there were musicians or anything like that at any of the championship rallies I have attended, they certainly did not make it more special. In fact, I was annoyed that the woeful Dropkick Murphys managed to play any sort of role in the Red Sox parade.

He seems not to mean it literally (yet), but Mikutavičius is right when he says that the song belongs to the people who are emotionally moved by it, and, as a result, it is they who should sing it. To return to the Neil Diamond comparison, there’s something even a bit off about his performance at Fenway, since the crowd seems somehow out of it–unprepared, silenced in the mix, I don’t know. The argument could be made that the Fenway rendition of “Sweet Caroline” owes more to this version from the sublime Beautiful Girls than to the recorded version piped into the park:

Here we have “Sweet Caroline” completely divorced from Diamond (he’s not even mentioned–unless silently whispered when Uma Thurman’s character does not instantly recognize the song). And though this performance is missing the classic Fenway “So good! So good! So good!” response, it does still show what Mikutavičius could have in mind for his song. Let it be sung in bars–with or without him. ((This is kind of funny, since when Mikutavičius came to the PLJS Kongresas in Germany back in 2003, I think he participated in group singalongs of “Trys Milijonai” at least once per night, including once accompanying himself on piano. I tried to get him to do the same with “Bliamba, juk aš tave myliu,” a song I much prefer, but he dismissed it as a “debilų daina,” and that was that; it was time to sing “Trys milijonai” again.)) The song becomes much more valuable when it comes from the assembled collective instead of from the stage.

I mean, pretty much everyone who would be in a position to sing “Trys milijonai” already knows the words, so having its performance come from the top down robs it of its alleged unifying force. ((I do have issues with how the number “3 million” is parsed in the song in order to make it more of an ethnic rather than national anthem, and I’m really fighting the temptation to go into that here. But I can’t help myself from wondering what the Ławrynowicz twins think of “Trys milijonai.”)) After the bronze medal game, several friends remarked that third in the world is not too shabby for a nation of “only 3 million,” underscoring how the victory belonged to the nation as a whole, just as the song should.

Ultimately, Mikutavičiaus claim that “„Trys milijonai“ jau seniai tapo ne mūsų, kurie juos kūrėme, tačiau visos tautos daina” is rather provocative. The song rather famously became the property of Intervid for a period of five years in 2004, and the rights have since reverted back to the original authors. ((When the rights were sold, I remember being told that Mikutavičius was cashing in on the song early, so he could enjoy its success while still young (instead of collecting pennies per month over his lifetime). I imagine that side of the story is the intrigue alluded to in the first article.)) Intervid will not disclose how much money it made off “Trys milijonai” during the five years it held the rights, and Mikutavičius is probably best described as cagey regarding his own earnings off the song. But if he’s both serious about the song’s becoming “visos tautos daina” and disinclined to look self-aggrandizing, then there’s a very easy way he could put his money where his mouth is.

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