His voice, his interpretation, the songs and the emotions... will be remembered the countless generations from Croatia and the neighbouring countries. Oliver Dragojević. A music legend. One of the most famous singers and musicians in Croatia and the region. Even though he is often considered by many to be the representative of the typical Dalmatian pop-song, close to chanson, during more than 45 years of his exceptionally fruitful and successful career, Oliver has managed to show that underneath his evergreen success lies a perfect form of mutual symbiosis of musical idioms, which have been handcrafted and combined with his “secret skill” for decades with such filigree precision into a homogenous and a very much recognizable musical expression. All of the segments have been woven with the experience of the “old Jack Tar” and the master of sound, with the instinct of the true music connoisseur only characteristic to those who deserve to be called great as well as in/with the “accompanying elements” and a respectable skill as the multi-instrumentalist that he is (at least to the level which requires him to perform his key songs on stage on his own, playing the piano).
If we go by analyzing the music genres fused in his work, maybe the best way to describe him is as a Mediterranean/Dalmatian Tony Bennett, Frank Sinatra, Dean Martin, Domenico Modugno or Billy Joel. Oliver’s work shows obvious influence of Stevie Wonder, Paul Anka, Ray Charles, Tom Jones and The Beatles, while stylewise we wouldn’t be off to compare him to the young Michael Bubble and veterans Julio Iglesias and Barbra Streisand, naturally, taking into account the Mediterranean aura in Oliver’s music. His collaborations with established songwriters, foremost among those being the late Zdenko Runjic, produced many hits that went beyond the regional borders. What is unique about his work is the sense of tolerance, free spirit and humanity permeating the vast majority of Oliver’s songs, evoking strength, courage and optimism, with willingness to face life and take responsibility for one’s actions, exemplified by these lines from his most popular song ‘Seagull And I’: ‘ whether ‘bura’ or a storm, you either mock or take joy’. This song, collaboration between Zdenko Runjic, Tomislav Zuppa and Oliver himself, is a beautiful hommage to the ‘ primordial divine creation in the universe’. Zdenko Runjic once said it was the best song he ever wrote, picturing it as a conversation between a man restrained by all the limitations and a flying seagull, symbolizing kindness, fearlessness and freedom’. What makes Oliver Oliver is preciselly his profound view on life, a subconscious ‘Dalmatian code’. Wisdom, strength, beauty. Tolerance, balance… and courage. What is Elton John to Britain, that, and more, is what Oliver Dragojevic means to Croatia!
Oliver Dragojević will give a concert on April 19, 2010 in the prestigious concert hall - The Royal Albert Hall in London. This will undoubtedly be one of the truly special, historic events for Croatian music and culture in general. The Royal Albert Hall venue itself was designed and acoustically adapted to sustain the biggest art events, primarily music concerts, and is situated in one of the biggest art centers, London. It is one of the world’s most prestigious venues, and to be able to even attend a concert, let alone perform in it, is an extreme honor. Its management has had for a long time now the privilege to choose between performers, so Oliver’s concert can truly be considered as one of the ‘high points in his career’, placing him in company of some of the world’s greatest music icons who have also played at this venue. We would like to take this opportunity to remind you why Oliver has deserved this very rare privilege. However, on the one hand, respecting the long list of biographies written by our esteemed authors - musicologists, critics, journalist, fans among which we feel obliged to mention ‘Southern Comfort’ by Zlatko Gall, and on the other hand not wanting to reinvent the wheel we have decided to combine a classical chronological and factual biography with a kind of resume, actually, our view of the overall complexity of Oliver’s character, his work and figure, who has managed to excite admirers of ‘good’ music, of various generations and music tastes for so long. It is a matter of an ‘enduring’, real, ‘cosmic’ Dalmatian, as described on the cover of his classic album ‘Melancholy’ by Dražen Vrdoljak, a master of music criticism, thus separating the work of Oliver and Zdenko from ‘ditties fabricated by the music scene’. Another of our great masters of music criticism, the aforementioned Zlatko Gall, corroborated this view.
With Runjić’s death Croatian music lost one of its truly most significant authors, and Oliver his artistic partner, but the light and the pure essence of humanity and intimacy, pouring from the divine melodies created by the duo, will never be lost or forgotten. Quite the contrary, ‘when the last ray of light disappears behind Marjan… walking down the promenade – a lamplighter.’ Just as Isaac Newton showed that the perfection that is Light is seemingly made of only one colour, white, so has Oliver demonstrated over the past four decades that his ‘hoarse expression’ is just the surface hiding many stylistic undertones intertwined, along with the Mediterranean/Dalmatian archetypes, into a fragile and carefully constructed music web.
Oliver has recently taken on a new challenge in his emotional journey by becoming a songwriter, showing with two original songs that ‘it is still not the time to close the shudders’. This is a mark of a true transcendence. We would like to send a message to Zdenko and all the people who, together with Oliver, created this timeless music by using some of their lines: ‘ It was worth it, for you have left a burning mark in the endless stairway that is life. When we are with you, we are as happy as only a child can be!’
All those ‘who never have the time’, not even to read this text, we give you a quote by an esteemed French-Croatian chef, Stephan Macchi, who said (try to imagine a charming version of Croatian with a French accent): ‘In order to have a nice meal in peace and quiet, you simply have to take some time.’ The same goes for this article. ‘Forgive me, father, for listening to others; now I’m just like you ‘cause I’ve lived a life’, ‘the group is singing under voice’, and with our review of Oliver’s concert at the Royal Albert Hall we can only reminisce about ‘what was once love’. Who knows, maybe even in these crazy times, just like Zdenko and Oliver, we can change the world…
Vjeruj u ljubav jer ljubav je sve
Vjeruj u ljubav ne živi bez nje
Vjeruj u ljubav i sačuvaj nju
Vjeruj u ljubav u dobru i zlu
Daj mi svoju ruku sad neka ljubav veže nas
Daj mi svoju ruku sad kao rijedak cvijet
Daj mi svoju ruku sad prava ljubav je uz nas
Ona može promijeniti svijet
Believe in love ‘cause love is everything
Believe in love never live without it
Believe in love and keep it safe
Believe in love through the good and bad
Take my hand let love bind us
Take my hand gently as a rare flower
Take my hand ‘cause true love is with us
It can change the world
Quotes from Skalinada - with official permissions from IDM Music and Skalinada (www.skalinada.hr).
Quotes from the book "Južnjačka utjeha" - with official permission from Profil Multimedija (Profil Megastore, www.profil.hr).