„You can count on us“: Even if we play rock music, we are still good communists

Strange topics and separate paths

Because of the themes sung about on it, the single „Raćunajte na nas“ (freely translated: „You can count on us“) by the band Rani Mraz (Early Frost), which was released in 1978, is a musical curiosity. The B-side is called „Strašan žulj“ (freely translated: „I have a mighty bubble on my hands“). Yes, you have read correctly. The song is actually called that!

Both songs allow a deep look into the Yugoslavian society of the late 1970s.

At the same time, the further path of life of the musicians involved in this record shows how differently people in Yugoslavia, who used to work together (and had common goals for a while, even if it was only the same band), developed in completely different directions in the course of time – especially in the 1990s.

Računajte na nas: Tito, battles and the rock music

rani-mraz-5 SingleInnenseite

Here the summary of the lyrics of „You can count on us“.

  • The singer tells that „in the name of all of us born in the 1950s“ that he took the „oath (of the young pioneers) to Tito“ and also sings (communist) songs. However, he points out, that while doing so he – unlike in many other songs of this genre – he does not mention the past and of past battles, because after all he had not yet been born at the time they happened.
  • However, warlike conflicts are not so completely out of his imagination. That becomes clear when he sings about the fact that before his own generation lies a future, which would certainly still hold wars in store. Therefore, „hundreds of offensives“ to secure peace would still be imminent. (The term „offensives to secure peace“, which he uses, might sound a bit weird. At that time, however, such phrases were common – mind you;, in East and West).

Further it says then: Some people think that we’re being misled because we’re listening to records and playing rock, but deep inside us, it’s a battle of the flames… And I tell you, because I know for sure:/You can count on us (Sumnjaju neki da nosi nas pogrešan tok/Jer slušamo ploče i sviramo rok/ Al‘ negde u nama je bitaka plan/…I kažem vam, šta dobro znam/Računajte na nas)

Address of devotion from young followers of rock music to Tito

The song is therefore no less than the devotional address of young followers of rock music to Tito and the Party. In essence, the song says that the Yugoslavian followers of rock music are a bit different from the previous generation, but if it came down to it, they would be there, even with a gun.

This message was so important to the performers (or the record company) that the entire lyrics of the song were also printed on the back of the single. So even those (officials) who might not have liked to listen to the song could take note of it.


Strašan žulj: A student learns what it means to work

Not printed, but equally surprising (at least from a western point of view) for the song of a pop-rock-folk group is the lyrics of the song on the back called „Strasan zulj“ (loosely translated: „I have a mighty bubble on my hands“). Connoisseurs of the Beatles may now remember that Ringo Starr shouted „I`ve got blisters in my fingers“ at the end of the recording of „Helter Skelter“. However, this song has no connection to drumming and the blisters have a completely different cause.

Here again a short retelling of the song`s content:

  • The protagonist of the song is a young student who takes part in a youth work camp where students in Yugoslavia helped to build large infrastructure projects (highways and railway lines).
  • He notes that in the „brigade“ the subjects taught by the faculty do not count for anything, since „books are one thing and practice is another“. Now (after the work on the construction site) the singer knows what is „the right thing“, now he also understands „what it means to work“

Than it says: Listen to this: Today I have a huge blister on my hand/perhaps the most beautiful one in the brigade/ danas, (čuj, imam strašan žulj,/valjda najlepši u brigadi).


The song ends with the verse: Until this summer I knew little,/Now I understand all the workers of the world,/Until now I was a big boy/and mama’s spoiled son/Now I know what the right thing is (Znao sam malo sve do ovoga leta/Tek sada razumem sve radnike sveta/Do sad sam bio samo veliki klinac/i mamin mezimac sin/Sada znam šta je prava stvar)

So the songs served to make „good weather“ for the politicians, that they would not prevent young people from being „rockers“.

Seldom has there been more ingratiation! There’s no other way to put it.

Today the song „You can count on us“ with its „hundred offensives“ has a certain nostalgia bonus with many – among them a conspicuously large number of contemporaries in need of harmony and nostalgia. Today one likes to overhear the warlike undertones and one concentrates on the things that are positive again today, like the youth brigade.

Oppositional and right-wing national in the same band

The group included Djordje Balašević and Bora Djordjević, whose further political orientation took a course that could hardly be more different.

Djole“: songwriter between all chairs and fronts

Djordje Balašević, also called Djole by his fans, later became the most famous Kant author (chansonnier) of Yugoslavia and with his songs and statements he always interfered critically in politics.


https://www.flickr.com/photos/romanski/5332063229 Author: romanski

First he criticized the national tendencies in all the then Yugoslav states, and later he critically examined Serbia’s role in the collapse of Yugoslavia.

Among other things he described in the song Ćovek sa mesecom u očima (Man with the moon in his eyes) the destruction of the Croatian city of Vukovar by the Yugoslavian People’s Army and Serbian volunteer associations, an event which had otherwise been rather suppressed in Serbia.

In another song he blames himself and the other normal citizens for the war. The song is called Krivi smo mi (We are to blame ourselves).

There he sings among other things: What did the generals know/ and the majors with their moustaches?/ They could just say „fire free“, but they are not the worst/we are to blame because we let them (do it) (Ma šta su znali viću/i brkati majori/Jedino da đenerali/Pali, ali nisu najgori/Krivi smo mi/jer smo njih pustili)

On 7 and 8 February 1998 Balašević was the first Serbian musician to play again in Sarajevo – which many at home resented.

Bora Čorba: A rocker with the paramilitaries

Bora took a completely different political path than .


Source: http://mc.rs/fotografija-borisav-djordjevic.1966.html?photoId=32624; Medija centar Beograd

He became the head of the rock group Riblja Čorba (fish soup), which had a major influence on the Yugoslav rock scene in the 1980s. The spectrum of this group ranged from songs that critically examined the socialist society (and whose release the record companies nearyly rejected) to sensitive rock ballads.

Later Djordjević, also called Bora Čorba by its fans, oriented itself in a completely different direction. Among other things, he ceremonially let himself be inaugurated into the community of the militaristic-national Četniks.

Punks also answer – and are forbidden

By the way: The song „You Can Count On us did not remain without a musical answer. The Slovenian punk band Pankrti (The Bastards), which is considered the first punk band in a socialist country, responded in 1980 with a song of the same name in Slovenian language (Računite Z Nami), which allegedly even led to the group being banned for anti-government statements.


Source: Wikiomedia; author Milosppf (talk)

There it says in obvious allusion to the two songs of Rani Mraz presented above: We build roads, we build railroads, we go to meetings and we don’t give a damn about drugs/… form us/… teach us/multiply us/… multiply us/and above all: count on us (Gradimo ceste, gradimo proge/hodmo na sestanke, ne jebemo droge/…oblikujte nas/…odštevajte nas/plodite se, množite nas/predvsem pa: Računite z nami…)

Also Bora Djordjevic once wrote an answer song. But this is a completely different story, which we will perhaps tell on another occasion.

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