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PHOTO CREDIT: Above photo by John Rickman Photography, San Jose, California.

Δεν ξανακάνω φυλακή - Ο Καπετανάκης
(Den Xanakano Filaki - O Kapetanakis)

(I Won't Do Jail Again – Kapetanakis)

 

 

This page contains a translation into English of the lyrics to the popular Greek song "Den Xanakano Filaki - O Kapetanakis" (Δεν ξανακάνω φυλακή - Ο Καπετανάκης), which was sung by Panayiotis Mihalopoulos. Also included is a pronunciation guide for the Greek lyrics so you can sing along if you like.

For more information about the laiko and rebetiko styles of music, see Introduction to Laiko / Rebetiko Music elsewhere on this web site.

Song lyrics are provided for educational purposes. If you like the song, please purchase either the album or a download from an authorized source.

About this Song

Most Greeks know this classic hit song very well!!! It's one of those timeless fun songs that you will always hear, despite the age of the crowd. The most well-known version is the 1978 recording sung by Panayiotis Mihalopoulos with Leonardos Bournelis (Λεονάρδος Μπουρνέλης) playing the bouzouki.

What many people don't know is that the melody and the actual original lyrics were recorded back in 1957. The lyrics of that version are a bit different from the 1978 version, but with the same concept of being in jail. The 1957 recording was sung by Stelios Souyiouldzis (Στέλιος Σουγιουλτζής) and Voula Gika (Βούλα Γκίκα). Their song was called "Katastrafika" (Καταστράφηκα) meaning "I Am Destroyed". The lyrics to this older version were by Yiorgos Trimis (Γιώργος Τρίμης), with music by Yiorgos Rovertaki (Γιώργος Ροβερτάκη), who was born in Smyrna in 1911.

In fact, the song may be even older! Rebetologist Hlias Petropoulou has discovered that it may have been originally written in the 1930's.

The song is said to have originally been a zeibekiko rhythm and dance. This song was recorded and published in a few other versions with different lyrics. To this day, it continues to be performed by many, many singers!

ABOUT THE PHOTOS: The upper photo shows Panayiotis Mihalopoulos, whose 1978 version of this song is the one whose translated lyrics appear here. The lower photo shows the American actor Douglas Fairbanks, Sr., whose name is mentioned in the lyrics to this song.

 

Song: Den Xanakano Filaki - O Kapetanakis (I Won't Do Jail Again – Kapetanakis), 1978

Lyrics for the Version Used for This Translation: Panayiotis Mihalopoulos

Music: Yiorgos Rovertaki

Featured Bouzouki Player: Yiasou Paleologou

Artist for the Version Used for This Translation: Panayiotis Mihalopoulos

Dance: Syrtos

Τραγούδι: Δεν ξανακάνω φυλακή - Ο Καπετανάκης, 1978

Στίχοι: Παναγιώτης Μιχαλόπουλος

Μουσική: Γιώργος Ροβερτάκη

Πρώτη Εκτέλεση: Παναγιώτης Μιχαλόπουλος

 

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Lyrics

This translation is based on the version popularized by Panayiotis Mihalopoulos in 1978. Lyrics performed by other artists may vary somewhat.

Numbers in parentheses refer to footnotes that appear at the bottom of the translation. For this song, the footnotes provide detailed insight into Greek cultural references that appear in the lyrics. For another point of view on those cultural references, see also this article "The Story of the Song 'I Will Not Go to Prison with Kapetenakis Again'".

Greek Lyrics

Pronunciation

English Translation

Δε' ξανακάνω φυλακή de' xanakano filaki I'm not going back to jail
με το' Καπετανάκη me to' Kapetanaki with Kapetanaki, (1)
που `χει Nτούγκλα στο μουστάκι pou 'hee Dougla sto moustaki who had a Dougla mustache. (2) (3)
τα μιλήσαμε, τα συμφωνήσαμε ta milisame, ta simfonisame We talked, we agreed.
με το' Καπετανάκη me to' Kapetanaki With Kapetanaki, (1)
που `χει Nτούγκλα στο μουστάκι pou 'hee Dougla sto moustaki who had a Dougla mustache. (2) (3)
τα μιλήσαμε, τα συμφωνήσαμε ta milisame, ta simfonisame We talked, we agreed.
     
Τη' δόλια τη' Mανούλα μου ti' doila ti' Manoula mou My deceived Mother —
Τη' πότισες φαρμάκι ti' potises farmaki you filled her with poison.
αχ, εσύ Καπετανάκη ah, esi Kapetanaki Oh, you Kapetanaki!
Τα μελιτζανιά ta melidzania The eggplant color, (4)
να μη' τα βάλει πια na mi' ta vali pia [she should] not wear [it] again.
Τη' πότισες φαρμάκι ti' potises farmaki You filled her with poison.
αχ, εσύ Καπετανάκη ah, esi Kapetanaki Oh, you Kapetanaki!
Τα μελιτζανιά ta melidzania The eggplant color, (4)
να μη' τα βάλει πια na mi' ta valis pia [she should] not wear [it] again.
     
Ξυπνώ και βλέπω σίδερα xipno ke vlepo sidera I awake and see iron [bars]
στη' γη στερεωμένα sti' yi stereomena fastened to the ground.
τα παιδάκια τα καημένα ta pedakia ta kaimena The poor guys, (5)
τα μιλήσαμε, τα συμφωνήσαμε ta milisame, ta simfonisame we talked, we agreed.
στη' γη στερεωμένα sti' yi stereomena Fastened to the ground.
τα παιδάκια τα καημένα ta pedakia ta kaimena The poor guys, (5)
τα μιλήσαμε, τα συμφωνήσαμε ta milisame, ta simfonisame we talked, we agreed.
     

Instrumental

Instrumental

Instrumental

     
Γεια σου Παλαιολόγου Yiasou Paleologou Yiasou Paleologou, (6)
με τις πενιές σου me tis penias sou with your chords on the strings. (7)
  1. There are different stories regarding who Kapetanakis was. One story refers to the 1920s, set in the jails of Paleas Stratonas. Around the month of November, there was a royal decree that offered amnesty to the political prisoners. They attempted to escape, which led to violence among the prisoners and the guards. The guard Kapetanakis severely injured four of them.  Some of the above information was published in an old Greek newspaper in the 1920s named Embros (εφημερίδα Εμπρός), in an article written by Nikos Sarant. (Νίκος Σαραντ.). Kapetanakis was said to have disappeared with thousands and thousands of drachmas, never to be found again! Other sources say that Kapetanakis was actually a prisoner named Tasos Kapetanakis (Τάσος Καπετανάκης), who had met with the singer Panayiotis Mihalopoulos. This article explores other theories regarding the possible identify of Kapetanakis.
  2. The "Dougla mustache" refers to the American silent movie actor Douglas Fairbanks, Sr., using the Greek pronunciation of his name without sounding the "s" at the end. Fairbanks was one of the biggest stars in Hollywood in the 1910's and 1920's. Greeks used to say "That person has the Dougla mustache," because it was a fashion Fairbanks had popularized.... even as far away as Greece! The common saying, referring to the mustache look, used to be "αλα φέρμπανκς" (ala Fairbanks). When Greeks would refer to a product for waxing a mustache, they referred to it as "μουστάκι αλα Nτούγκλα" (mustache ala Fairbanks). The song is said to have been originally written in the 1930s.
  3. There are different stories regarding why a "Dougla mustache" was mentioned with respect to the jail. One story says that in the 1930s, Eleftherios Venizelos was a director at the Jails of Paleas Stratonas in Monastiraki (φυλακές της Παλιάς Στρατώνας στο Μοναστηράκι). He was known as being very strict, and he wore the famous slim mustache.
  4. The word melidzana refers to the vegetable eggplant (also known as aubergine). In this song, it's referring to the purple color of eggplant. There are two different theories regarding what the reference in this song means. According to one theory, it refers to prostitutes, who used antiseptics which stained their underwear purple. The other theory, which is more likely, is that the color purple was worn for mourning, by widows and at funerals, especially on the Greek islands. This reference to wearing purple appears quite often in traditional Greek island music. In the Greek language, for dramatic effect, we can say that one's choices or outcomes can cause a loved one to die — either literally or internally. So, in this song, the fact that her son is in jail might make him dead to her, even though he is alive.
  5. Literally, pedia means "kids", which can refer to either children or adults.
  6. This is calling out the name of Yiasou Paleologou, the bouzouki player featured in the instrumentals of this song. He was a renowned bouzouki player of that era, the nephew of the great Markos Vamvakaris (his mother was Markos' sister).
  7. The word penia refers to striking a chord on a musical instrument.

 

 

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About the Translator

This page was contributed by Panayiota Bakis Mohieddin, who is happy to share her culture and music she grew up with! Here's how Panayiota describes her background:

I always love engaging with intelligent like-minded people, especially artists. I love sharing anything and everything about my Hellenic culture and upbringing, especially music and dance. A conversation with me will bring you back to America's favorite Greek-American movie by Nia Vardalos called My Big Fat Greek Wedding.

I love investigating Greek culture, history, music, and dance. Speaking of investigating, I think I missed my calling, I probably should have been an investigator. Instead, I use those skills to dig and dig and dig tirelessly, often times falling asleep on my laptop... just to find the truth. But, most importantly, accurate truth. For me personally, and other respectable folklorists, my culture and accuracy are very important. Each generation of ethnic born artists has a duty to do the best it can to pass down our traditions as was taught to us. We have been given this artistic gift to be the gatekeepers of our heritage and culture.

Panayiota

 

 

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