Long ago and far away, I studied Russian in high school. It was so many years ago ago that I can't recall why learning Russian seemed like a good idea, or why my high school even offered it in the first place. Maybe it was because the Cold War was in full effect and nuclear paranoia ran deep, and that the Russian language and Cyrillic alphabet seemed exotic and scarily fascinating. Whatever the reasons, I took two years of it and did okay. By now, however, about all I remember is dosvidanya ("goodbye") and the ability to jabber a bit in what sounds like (but actually isn't) Russian.
Lately I've been wishing I'd retained more of my Russian, thanks to sometime Triangle resident Alina Simone's "Everyone Is Crying Out To Me, Beware" -- an album sung entirely in Russian. "Beware" first crossed my radar after I selected Simone to be in this past January's "Eight Great Local Acts" feature. Five minutes into interviewing her, I knew there was no way I could do justice to Simone's story or "Beware" in the limited space I had to work with for "Great Eight." So I've done a longer feature that gets into the back-story of the Ukrainian-born Simone reconnecting with her roots via the music of the late great Russian punk legend Yanka Dyagileva.