Friday, November 1, 2013

The Pet Shop Boys and the Finland Station

When browsing through some golden oldies I stumbled upon one of my many favorite 80s songs, namely West End Girls by the Pet Shop Boys. The touch of synthesizer in this piece highly attracts me. It's a mysterious song with a large story behind its on first sight easy looking lyrics. In shame I have to admit that I always somehow thought they were singing 'From Lithuania to the Finland Station', but further research in any random lyrics database shows it's 'From Lake Geneva to the Finland Station'. Oops. I was quite curious why the scene of the song was suddenly moved from the West and East End districts of London to these two diverse places in Switzerland and Russia. Indeed, the Finland Station is not located in the country about which I dedicated so many lovable blog posts. I'm not trying to explain the entire context of West End Girls here, I'd just briefly like to share the story behind the line I misapprehended. Lenin was forced to leave Russia in 1914. He decided to move to Switzerland, where he lived in Bern and Z├╝rich. He also spent time in a little chalet at Lake Geneva. Then, during April 1917, he managed to find his way back to Russia by travelling there in a sealed train compartment crossing a.o. Germany and Sweden. His notorious arrival was at the Finland Station in what's now called St. Petersburg.

You know what... After this tiny investigation I just realized how incredibly much I still have to learn about the ins and outs of Russian history. It's a complicated matter and even after having spent so many years close to the source I'm still often surprised by remarkable findings. 

The connection of this line with the rest of the song is topic for a a philosophical eve with some liquor. Let's stick to this light story for now. Nevertheless, I'd like to mention that even though I've never been in Switzerland, I did actually visit the Finland Station in St. Petersburg. I was fascinated by this place when I strolled around there during the first few freezing cold January days of 2010, three days after my 20th birthday. I dived into my picture archive and these are a few pictures which will give you a clearer insight on how the Finland Station looks like (during winter time).

 The impressive Finland Station in St. Petersburg. It's rebuilded and therefore not the exact same as the one where Lenin arrived.

Typical Russian hats and a lady selling lottery tickets.

Huge Sovietic art work impossible to miss when entering the Finland Station.

 Lenin once again, now down at the metro stop.

Just overwhelming...

And you thought you saw enough Lenins already? Well, there used to be one standing there, but...

... in April 2009 his ass was blown up, so at the time I was there the little man was away for some repairments (source of this picture unfortunately unknown, sorry for that).

And this is how you start off with 80s music and the Pet Shop Boys in order to end up through a rather unusual way at an assless leader.

To conclude this post a rather random ending. I just discovered another piece of lyrics I misheard for ages. It's about 'Weekend' from Earth and Fire (with Jerney Kaagman). I somehow always thought she sang 'I wanted a proposal, and not a fart', while it should have been 'I wanna have a whole, and not a part'. Oops once again...

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