Filler
Photo of Shira

 

 

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

Είσαι η ζωή μου
(Ise i Zoi Mou)

(You Are My Life)

 

This page contains a translation into English of the lyrics to the popular Greek song "Ise i Zoi Mou", which was sung by Stelios Kazantzidis. You might also see it spelled at "Eese ee Zoi Mou". 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 THE PHOTO: Stelios Kazantzidis and his wife Marinella performing with musician friends.

Stelios and Marinella

About Stelios Kazantzidis

The legendary Stelios Kazantzidis was born August 29, 1931 in Athens Greece, specifically Nea Ionia. He is among the most beloved musicians of our time. His music and words never get old. He was of Asia Minor and Pondian (Greek Anatolian) descent. Stelios or, as many love to call him, Stelara, was also loved due to his character and simplicity in life. Sadly, he did not make much from profit from his career as he was taken advantage of.

Stelios' music is all about love, immigration, pain, refugee, and poverty as is most music of this time. He is considered one of the fathers of Laiko music. Stelara has touched many people's lives. He remained so humble and simple until cancer took his last breath in 2001.

“I sing for the poor, the immigrants and the suffering people… generally for the lower social classes. They can’t go to the expensive night clubs. They buy my discs and they regard them as their Gospels.” – Stelios Kazantzidis

In 1964, Kazantzidis married an up-and-coming young singer, Kyriaki Papadopoulou, who used the stage name of Marinella. Unfortunately, the marriage eventually ended in divorce.

Personal notes by the translator:

The music of Stelios Kazantzidis is very dear to my heart. My grandmother and grandfather were often referred to as the young Kazantzidis and Marinella, while singing at family gatherings. Marinella was Stelios' first wife, and his biggest love.

If you want to impress Greeks, you need to remember Stelios' name. As much as Princess Diana was loved, so was Stelios. People cry black tears to his music.

Stelios and Marinella in 1969

About Marinella

Marinella's real name was Kyriaki Papadopoulou. She was born in Thessaloniki, Greece, the daughter of refugees from Constantinople (present-day Istanbul). The famous singer-songwriter Tolis Harmas discovered this rising star at a young age in the 1950s, and gave her the stage name Marinella, inspired by his song of that title. It was during this time when Stelios Kazantzidis saw her and fell in love with her. Marinella later joined Stelios on tours. They eventually got married, and in the eyes of many they were the greatest duet in Greece, unsurpassed even today.

Marinella is one of the greatest living legends of Greece still actively performing, popular, and still very relevant in the Greek music scene.

ABOUT THE PHOTO: Stelios Kazantzidis and Marinella on their wedding day.

Stelios and Marinella

About Eftihia Papayiannopoulou, the Lyricist

Contrary to popular belief, this song was not written by Stelios Hrisinis. It was actually written by a very famous lyricist named Eftihia Papayiannopoulou, whose nickname was EE Gria (the old lady).

The legendary Eftihia Xatzigeorgiou (Papayiannopoulou) was born in 1893, in the city of Aydin, which is close to Smyrna (today known as Izmir in Turkey). As a Greek Anatolian refugee, she felt the life, pain and suffering. Her talents as a lyricist in the 1950s through 1960s drew the attention of some of the greatest Laiko – Rebetes of that time. Her collaborations Apostolos Kaldaras, Stelios Kazandzidis, Vasilis Tsitsanis and Manos Hadjidakis, Manolis Hiotis, Babis Bakalis, to name a few.

ABOUT THE PHOTO: Eftihia Papayiannopoulou.

Eftihia had a falling out with Stelios Kazandzidis and Vasilis Tsitsanis regarding lyrics and intellectual property rights. In this era, women were not highly regarded and respected. The man always dominated and had the final word. Many of these men did not want others to know that there was a women behind their succuessful songs.

There is much judgment and criticism againt Eftihia Papayiannopoulou because she was an avid tzogadora (gambler). She lost her husband and daughter all within a close period, which led her to turn to it. Gambling is an addiction, and they should not be judged. In her desperation to have fast money she felt the need to sell the rights to her songs as opposed to retaining the rights to obtain a commission.

Eftihia Papayiannopoulou

One of Eftihia's favorite quotes:

“Efhome stous neous na stadiodromisoun sto Laiko tragoudi, pou to opio pote den tha pethani efoson iparxoune Ellines”

(Εύχομαι στους νέους να σταδιοδρομήσουν στο Λαικό τραγούδι, που το οπίο δεν θα πεθάνη ποτέ εφόσον υπάρχουν Έλληνες).

“I hope for the young to follow careers in Laiko song/music, that in which will never die, as long as there are Hellines/Greeks”.

ABOUT THE PHOTO: Eftihia Papayiannopoulou.

Eftihia is credited for writing hundreds of songs; however, it is unknown how many additional songs she wrote that were never credited to her. In her honor, actress Nena Mendi, produced a theatrical play in Greece called The Unkown Eftihia Papagiannopoulou.

Panayiota compiled the above information from her personal library of books, music albums, videos, and magazines, as well as through conversations with musician family members.

Eftihia Papayiannopoulou

Song: You Are My Life – Eese ee Zoi Mou, 1959

Lyrics: Eftihia Papagiannopoulou

Music: Thodoros Derveniotis

Original Artists: Stelios Kazantzidis & Marinella

Dance Style: Syrtos or Tsifteteli

Τραγουδι: Είσαι η ζωή μου, 1959

Στίχοι: Ευτυχία Παπαγιαννοπούλου

Μουσική: Θόδωρος Δερβενιώτης

Πρώτη εκτέλεση: Στέλιος Καζαντζίδης & Μαρινέλλα

 

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Listen to MP3 Clips of This Song

Note Sung by Stelios Kazantzidis

 

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Lyrics

Greek Lyrics

Pronunciation

English Translation

Δεν αγάπησα γυναίκα den agapisa gineka I never loved a woman
δεν λαχτάρησα κορμί den lahtarisa kormi I never longed for a body
όσο λαχταρώ εσένα oso lahtaro esena as much as I long for you
κούκλα μου μελαχρινή koukla mou melaxrini my dark doll [could refer to skin or hair]
     
Είσαι η ζωή μου eese ee zoi mou You are my life,
η αναπνοή μου ee anapnoi mou my breath
μ' άναψες φωτιά m’ anapses fotia you set a fire
μέσα στην καρδιά mesa stin kardia inside my heart
δεν αντέχω πια den antexo pia I can't take it anymore
     
Γλύκα μου και φως μου glika mou ke fos mou my sweetie and my light
το φιλί σου δως μου to fili sou dos mou give me your kiss
μην με τυραννάς min me tiranas don’t torture me
πες πως μ' αγαπάς pes pos m’agapas say you love me
αχ δεν με πονάς ah den me ponas ah you don’t feel my pain [sympathize]
     
Είσαι ο κρυφός καημός μου eese o krifos kaimos mou you are my hidden sorrow
της καρδιάς μου ο σεβντάς tis kardias mou o sevdas my heart's longing
βάλθηκες να με πεθάνεις valthikes na me pethanis you were aiming to kill me
και στον Άδη να με πας ke ston ‘Adee na me pas and to Hades (1) you will take me
     
Είσαι η ζωή μου eese ee zoi mou You are my life,
η αναπνοή μου ee anapnoi mou my breath
μ' άναψες φωτιά m’ anapses fotia you set a fire
μέσα στην καρδιά mesa stin kardia inside my heart
δεν αντέχω πια den antexo pia I can't take it anymore
     
Γλύκα μου και φως μου glika mou ke fos mou my sweetie and my light
το φιλί σου δως μου to fili sou dos mou give me your kiss
μην με τυραννάς min me tiranas don’t torture me
πες πως μ' αγαπάς pes pos m’agapas say you love me
αχ δεν με πονάς ah den me ponas ah you don’t feel my pain [sympathize]
  1. In Greek mythology, "Hades" refers to the underworld where people's souls go after they die.

 

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Where to Get Recordings of this Song

I Hrises Epitihies

Note

Listen to Clip

Artist: Stelios Kazantzidis
CD Title: I Hrises Epitihies

 

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Translations of
Stelios' Kazantzidis' Songs on This Site

Other translations of songs performed by Stelios Kazantzidis on this web site include:

 

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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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