Those Were the Days (song)

Last updated

"Those Were the Days"
A-side label of UK single
Single by Mary Hopkin
from the album Post Card
B-side "Turn! Turn! Turn!"
Released30 August 1968 [1]
Studio EMI, London
Genre Folk [2] [3]
Label Apple
Producer(s) Paul McCartney
Mary Hopkin singles chronology
"Those Were the Days"
"Those Were The Days"
Single by Sandie Shaw
B-side "Make It Go"
Genre Easy listening
Label Pye
Sandie Shaw singles chronology
"Those Were The Days"
"Monsieur Dupont"

"Those Were the Days" is a song credited to Gene Raskin, who put a new English lyric to the Russian romance song "Dorogoi dlinnoyu" [lower-alpha 1] , composed by Boris Fomin (1900–1948) with words by the poet Konstantin Podrevsky. It deals with reminiscence upon youth and romantic idealism. It also deals with tavern activities, which include drinking, singing and dancing.


Welsh singer, Mary Hopkin, covered "Those Were the Days" as her debut single in 1968. Produced by Paul McCartney of the Beatles and arranged by Richard Hewson, the cover became a number one hit in the UK and Canada, and also reached number two in the US on the Billboard Hot 100, behind "Hey Jude" by the Beatles. It was number one in the first edition of the French National Hit Parade launched by the Centre d'Information et de Documentation du Disque. [4] The song was featured on the US version of the debut album Post Card .

Early history

Georgian singer Tamara Tsereteli (1900–1968) and Russian singer Alexander Vertinsky made what were probably the earliest recordings of the song, in 1925 [5] and 1926 [6] respectively.

The song appears in the 1953 British/French movie Innocents in Paris , in which it was sung with its original Russian lyrics by the Russian Tzigane chanteuse Ludmila Lopato. Mary Hopkin's 1968 recording of it, with Gene Raskin's lyric, was a chart-topping hit in much of the Northern Hemisphere. On most recordings of the song, Raskin is credited as the sole writer, even though he wrote only the later English lyrics, which are not an English translation of the Russian lyrics, and not the music.

Later history

In the early 1960s, Raskin, with his wife Francesca, played folk music around Greenwich Village in New York, including White Horse Tavern. Raskin, who had grown up hearing the song, and his wife, wrote [7] new English lyrics to the old Russian music, and then copyrighted both music and lyrics in his own name. [8] The Limeliters subsequently released a recording of the song on their 1962 LP Folk Matinee. [9]

The Raskins were international performers and had played London's "Blue Angel" every year, always closing their show with the song. Paul McCartney frequented the club and, being quite taken with the song, he attempted to get several singers or groups, including the early Moody Blues, to record it. [10] Failing at that, after the formation of the Beatles' own Apple Records label, McCartney immediately recorded Mary Hopkin performing the song at Abbey Road Studios in London. [11] He later said, "I thought it was very catchy, it had something, it was a good treatment of nostalgia... (Hopkin) picked it up very easily, as if she'd known it for years." [12] The song was eventually recorded in over twenty languages and by many different artists, including Gene and Francesca.

Hopkin's recording was produced by Paul McCartney with an arrangement by Richard Hewson and became a number-one hit on the UK Singles Chart. In the United States, Hopkin's recording reached number two on the Billboard Hot 100 (held out of the top spot for three weeks by "Hey Jude" by The Beatles) and topped the Billboard Easy Listening charts for six weeks. [13] In the Netherlands, it topped the charts for two consecutive weeks. [14]

The Russian origin of the melody was accentuated by an instrumentation that was unusual for a top-ten pop record, including balalaika, clarinet, hammered dulcimer or cimbalom, tenor banjo, and children's chorus, giving a klezmer feel to the song. Mary Hopkin played acoustic guitar on the recording, and Paul McCartney also played acoustic guitar and, possibly, percussion. The cimbalom was played by Gilbert Webster. [15]

McCartney also recorded Hopkin singing "Those Were the Days" in other languages for release in their respective countries:

The non-English sets of lyrics were also recorded by Dalida and Sandie Shaw, with Shaw recording the English lyrics as well.

The B-side of the record in the UK and the United States was Pete Seeger's "Turn! Turn! Turn!", which had been a US number-one hit for The Byrds in 1965.

"Those Were the Days" was catalogue number APPLE 2. The APPLE 1 number had been given to an unreleased version of Frank Sinatra's "The Lady Is a Tramp", recorded specially in 1968 for Maureen Starkey's 22nd birthday, as a gift from Ringo Starr, under the name of "The Lady is a Champ". It was the second single to be released on the Apple label, the first — "Hey Jude" by the Beatles —had retained the sequential catalogue numbers used by Parlophone in the UK and Capitol in the US.

Hopkin's version was released on the back of her success on the television talent show Opportunity Knocks and, around the time of its release, popular singer Sandie Shaw was also asked to record the song by her management, feeling that it should be done by a "real" singer. Shaw's version was released as a single, but did not match the success of Hopkin's version.

At the peak of the song's success, a New York company used the melody in a commercial for Rokeach gefilte fish, arguing that the tune was an old Russian folk-tune and thus in the public domain. The commercial included the line "The perfect dish, Rokeach Gefilte Fish", wheras the English-language song would go "Those were the days, oh yes, those were the days.") Raskin successfully sued and won a settlement, since he had slightly altered the tune to fit his lyrics and had taken out the valid new copyright.[ citation needed ]

In the mid-1970s, after Hopkin's contract with Apple ended, "Those Were the Days" and "Goodbye" were re-recorded with producer Tony Visconti, whom she had married in 1971. Those re-recorded versions can be found on music compilations.

On 25 October 2010, Apple Records released Come and Get It: The Best of Apple Records , which included the original recordings of "Those Were the Days" and "Goodbye". The greatest hits compilation album contained songs by artists signed to the Beatles' Apple record label between 1968 and 1973, the first multi-artist Apple compilation.

On Christmas 1969, the President of Equatorial Guinea, Francisco Macías Nguema, had 150 alleged coup plotters executed in the national stadium while the amplifier system played the Mary Hopkin recording of "Those Were the Days". [16]

The tune of "Those Were the Days" is used for the Republic of Ireland football chant "Come On You Boys in Green". [17]

In 2011, Hopkin's version of the song was used by Nando's South Africa in a satirical advertisement featuring Robert Mugabe as the "Last Dictator Standing". The commercial was axed quickly, due to the controversy it created and condemnation from pro-Mugabe loyalists. [18]

Charts (Mary Hopkin version)


RegionCertification Certified units/sales
United States (RIAA) [48] Gold1,000,000^

^ Shipments figures based on certification alone.

Notable recordings

See also


  1. Russian: Дорогой длинною, lit. 'By the long road'

Related Research Articles

<span class="mw-page-title-main">Get Back</span> 1969 single by the Beatles with Billy Preston

"Get Back" is a song recorded by the English rock band the Beatles and Billy Preston, written by Paul McCartney, and credited to the Lennon–McCartney partnership. It was originally released as a single on 11 April 1969 and credited to "The Beatles with Billy Preston". The song is one of the few examples of John Lennon featuring prominently as lead guitarist. The album version of this song contains a different mix that features a studio chat between Paul McCartney and John Lennon at the beginning, which lasts for 20 seconds before the song begins, also omitting the coda featured in the single version, and with a final dialogue taken from the Beatles' rooftop concert. This version became the closing track of Let It Be (1970), which was released just after the group split up. The single version was later issued on the compilation albums 1967–1970, 20 Greatest Hits, Past Masters, and 1.

<span class="mw-page-title-main">Yesterday (song)</span> 1965 single by the Beatles

"Yesterday" is a song by the English rock band the Beatles, written by Paul McCartney and credited to Lennon–McCartney. It was first released on the album Help! in August 1965, except in the United States, where it was issued as a single in September. The song reached number one on the US charts. It subsequently appeared on the UK EP Yesterday in March 1966 and made its US album debut on Yesterday and Today, in June 1966.

<span class="mw-page-title-main">Hey Jude</span> 1968 single by the Beatles

"Hey Jude" is a song by the English rock band the Beatles that was released as a non-album single in August 1968. It was written by Paul McCartney and credited to the Lennon–McCartney partnership. The single was the Beatles' first release on their Apple record label and one of the "First Four" singles by Apple's roster of artists, marking the label's public launch. "Hey Jude" was a number-one hit in many countries around the world and became the year's top-selling single in the UK, the US, Australia and Canada. Its nine-week run at number one on the Billboard Hot 100 tied the all-time record in 1968 for the longest run at the top of the US charts, a record it held for nine years. It has sold approximately eight million copies and is frequently included on music critics' lists of the greatest songs of all time.

Apple Records is a British record label founded by the Beatles in 1968 as a division of Apple Corps Ltd. It was initially intended as a creative outlet for the Beatles, both as a group and individually, plus a selection of other artists including Mary Hopkin, James Taylor, Badfinger and Billy Preston. In practice, the roster had become dominated by the mid-1970s with releases of the former Beatles as solo artists. Allen Klein managed the label from 1969 to 1973, then it was managed by Neil Aspinall on behalf of the Beatles and their heirs. Aspinall retired in 2007 and was replaced by Jeff Jones.

<span class="mw-page-title-main">Mary Hopkin</span> Welsh singer

Mary Hopkin, credited on some recordings as Mary Visconti from her marriage to Tony Visconti, is a Welsh singer best known for her 1968 UK number 1 single "Those Were the Days". She was one of the first artists to be signed to the Beatles' Apple label.

<span class="mw-page-title-main">The Long and Winding Road</span> 1970 single by the Beatles

"The Long and Winding Road" is a song by the English rock band the Beatles from their 1970 album Let It Be. It was written by Paul McCartney and credited to Lennon–McCartney. When issued as a single in May 1970, a month after the Beatles' break-up, it became the group's 20th and last number-one hit on the Billboard Hot 100 chart in the United States.

<span class="mw-page-title-main">Let It Be (song)</span> 1970 single by The Beatles

"Let It Be" is a song by the English rock band the Beatles, released on 6 March 1970 as a single, and as the title track of their album Let It Be. It was written and sung by Paul McCartney, and credited to the Lennon–McCartney partnership. The single version of the song, produced by George Martin, features a softer guitar solo and the orchestral section mixed low, compared with the album version, produced by Phil Spector, featuring a more aggressive guitar solo and the orchestral sections mixed higher.

<span class="mw-page-title-main">All Those Years Ago</span> 1981 single by George Harrison

"All Those Years Ago" is a song by the English rock musician George Harrison, released in May 1981 as a single from his ninth studio album Somewhere in England. Having previously recorded the music for the song, Harrison tailored the lyrics to serve as a personal tribute to his former Beatles bandmate John Lennon, following the latter's murder in 1980. Ringo Starr is featured on drums, and Paul McCartney overdubbed backing vocals onto the basic track. The single spent three weeks at number 2 on the US Billboard Hot 100, behind "Bette Davis Eyes" by Kim Carnes, and it peaked at number 13 on the UK Singles Chart. It also topped Canada's RPM singles chart and spent one week at number 1 on Billboard's Adult Contemporary listings.

<span class="mw-page-title-main">Hello, Goodbye</span> 1967 single by the Beatles

"Hello, Goodbye" is a song by the English rock band the Beatles, written by Paul McCartney and credited to Lennon–McCartney. Backed by John Lennon's "I Am the Walrus", it was issued as a non-album single in November 1967, the group's first release since the death of their manager, Brian Epstein. The single was commercially successful around the world, topping charts in the United States, the United Kingdom, France, West Germany, Canada, Australia and several other countries.

<span class="mw-page-title-main">Can't Buy Me Love</span> 1964 single by the Beatles

"Can't Buy Me Love" is a song by the English rock band the Beatles that was released in March 1964 as the A-side of their sixth single. It was written by Paul McCartney and credited to the Lennon–McCartney partnership. The song was included on the group's album A Hard Day's Night and was featured in a scene in Richard Lester's film of the same title. The single topped charts in the United Kingdom, the United States, Canada, Australia, Ireland, New Zealand, South Africa, the Netherlands, France and Sweden. In the UK, it was the fourth highest selling single of the 1960s.

<span class="mw-page-title-main">Come Together</span> 1969 single by the Beatles

"Come Together" is a song by the English rock band the Beatles, written by John Lennon and credited to Lennon–McCartney. The song is the opening track on their 1969 album Abbey Road and was also released as a single coupled with "Something". The song reached the top of the charts in the United States and Australia, but peaked at No. 4 in the United Kingdom.

<span class="mw-page-title-main">Birthday (Beatles song)</span> 1968 Lennon-McCartney track from the White Album

"Birthday" is a song by the English rock band the Beatles from their 1968 double album The Beatles. Written by John Lennon and Paul McCartney, mainly by McCartney, it is the opening track on the third side of the LP. Surviving Beatles Paul McCartney and Ringo Starr performed it for Starr's 70th birthday at Radio City Music Hall on 7 July 2010.

<span class="mw-page-title-main">Lady Madonna</span> 1968 single by the Beatles

"Lady Madonna" is a song by the English rock band the Beatles, written primarily by Paul McCartney and credited to Lennon–McCartney. In March 1968 it was released as a mono non-album single, backed with "The Inner Light". The song was recorded on 3 and 6 February 1968, before the Beatles left for India, and its boogie-woogie style signalled a more conventional approach to writing and recording for the group following the psychedelic experimentation of the previous two years.

<span class="mw-page-title-main">Band on the Run (song)</span> 1974 single by Paul McCartney and Wings

"Band on the Run" is a song by the British–American rock band Paul McCartney and Wings, the title track to their 1973 album Band on the Run.

<span class="mw-page-title-main">Sour Milk Sea</span> 1968 single by Jackie Lomax

"Sour Milk Sea" is a song written by George Harrison and released by English rock singer Jackie Lomax as his debut single on the Beatles' Apple record label in August 1968. Harrison wrote the song during the Beatles' stay in Rishikesh, India and gave it to Lomax to help launch Apple Records. Lomax's recording is a rarity among non-Beatles songs since it features three members of the band – Harrison, who also produced the track, Ringo Starr and Paul McCartney. Performed in the hard rock style, the song also includes musical contributions from Eric Clapton and session pianist Nicky Hopkins. It was the first of many Harrison productions for artists signed to the Beatles' record label.

<span class="mw-page-title-main">Le temps des fleurs</span> 1968 song by Dalida

"Le temps des fleurs" is a song by French singer Dalida for her twenty-first studio album of the same name. While the French lyrics were written by Eddy Marnay, the melody was taken from Russian romance song "Dorogoi dlinnoyu", composed by Boris Fomin in 1924. Dalida covered the song after Mary Hopkin had a hit with her English version "Those Were the Days" one month earlier.

Eugene Raskin or Gene Raskin, was an American musician and playwright, author of the lyrics of the English version of the Russian song "Those Were the Days" and also of three books on architecture and adjunct professor at Columbia University (1936–1976).

<span class="mw-page-title-main">Goodbye (Mary Hopkin song)</span> 1969 song performed by Mary Hopkin

"Goodbye" is a song written by Paul McCartney and performed by Mary Hopkin. It was released on 28 March 1969, and it reached No. 2 in the UK singles chart, prevented from reaching the top position by the Beatles' single "Get Back". In the US, released 7 April 1969, the song reached No. 13 on the singles chart. In the Netherlands and Ireland the single peaked at No. 1.

"The Puppy Song" is a Harry Nilsson song that appeared on his album Harry released in August 1969. Nilsson originally wrote this song at Paul McCartney's request for Mary Hopkin, an 18-year-old singer that McCartney had signed to Apple Records and whose first album, Post Card would feature her version of Nilsson's song. David Cassidy released his version as a double A-side single with "Daydreamer", which reached No. 1 on the UK Singles Chart in 1973.

<i>Post Card</i> (album) 1969 studio album by Mary Hopkin

Post Card is the debut album by Mary Hopkin. It was produced by Paul McCartney and released by Apple Records in February 1969 in the UK and in March 1969 in the US. It reached number 3 in the UK and number 28 in the US. It also reached number 24 in Canada. The original US and Canadian versions differed from the UK version by including the hit single "Those Were the Days" instead of a cover of "Someone to Watch Over Me".


  1. Miles, Barry (2001). The Beatles Diary Volume 1: The Beatles Years. London: Omnibus Press. p. 308. ISBN   978-0-7119-8308-3.
  2. Kay, Hilary (1992). Rock & Roll Memorabilia: A History of Rock Mementos With over 600 Illustrations. Prentice Hall. p. 174. ISBN   978-0671-77931-3. The Hopkin single, a McCartney-produced traditional Russian folk song, knocked Apple 1 ("Hey Jude") off the U.K. top slot.
  3. Spizer, Bruce. "An Apple a Day: Mary Hopkin – Post Card". Retrieved 1 June 2013. Mary Hopkin's debut single paired "Those Were The Days," a Lithuanian folk song adapted by American Gene Raskin
  4. 1 2 "An Industry Report on France". Billboard . 14 July 1973. p. 42. ISSN   0006-2510.
  5. "Topic: Дорогой длинною" [Topic: By the long road]. SecondHandSongs. Retrieved 19 June 2010.
  6. "Recording: Дорогой длинною - Alexander Vertinsky". SecondHandSongs. Retrieved 19 June 2010.
  7. Miles, Barry (1997). Paul McCartney: Many Years From Now. Secker & Warburg. p. 455.
  8. Perrone, Pierre (18 June 2004). "Gene Raskin – Singer, songwriter and architectural scholar". The Independent . Archived from the original on 5 December 2008.
  9. "Those Were The Days (original) – The Limeliters 1962.wmv". YouTube. 23 April 2010. Archived from the original on 21 December 2021. Retrieved 6 June 2012.
  10. Engelhardt, Kristofer (2010). Beatles Deeper Undercover. Collector's Guide Publishing, Incorporated. p. 148. ISBN   978-1-926-59209-1.
  11. Flans, Robyn (11 April 2015). "Classic Track: "Those Were the Days," Mary Hopkin". Mix . Retrieved 30 April 2022.
  12. Hill, Randall (26 November 2018). "'Those Were the Days' — Mary Hopkin, December 1968 - Senior Life - December 2018 - Florida". Viera Voice. Retrieved 2 March 2019.
  13. Whitburn, Joel (2002). Top Adult Contemporary: 1961-2001. Record Research. p. 118.
  14. 1 2 "Mary Hopkin – Those Were The Days" (in Dutch). Single Top 100. Retrieved 1 June 2013.
  15. Engelhardt, Kristofer (2010). Beatles Deeper Undercover. Collector's Guide Publishing, Incorporated. p. 147. ISBN   978-1-926-59209-1.
  16. Cronjé, Suzanne (1976). Equatorial Guinea, the forgotten dictatorship: forced labour and political murder in central Africa. Anti-Slavery Society. p. 30. ISBN   978-0-900918-05-6.
  17. "Euro karaoke: how to sing along with the fans". UEFA . 20 June 2016. Retrieved 3 September 2019.
  18. "Nando's axes Zimbabwe's Robert Mugabe 'dictator' advert". BBC News. 2 November 2011. Retrieved 24 February 2020.
  19. "Forum – ARIA Charts: Special Occasion Charts – CHART POSITIONS Pre 1989 Part 4". Hung Medien. Archived from the original on 26 August 2014. Retrieved 1 June 2013.
  20. "Mary Hopkin – Those Were The Days" (in German). Ö3 Austria Top 40. Retrieved 1 June 2013.
  21. "Mary Hopkin – Those Were The Days" (in Dutch). Ultratop 50. Retrieved 1 June 2013.
  22. "Top RPM Singles: Issue 5815." RPM . Library and Archives Canada. Retrieved 1 June 2013.
  23. "Hits of the World". Billboard . Vol. 80, no. 49. 7 December 1968. p. 68. ISSN   0006-2510.
  24. 1 2 "Hits of the World". Billboard. Vol. 80, no. 47. 23 November 1968. p. 78. ISSN   0006-2510.
  25. Ehnert, Günter, ed. (1990). Hit Bilanz: Deutsche Chart Singles 1956–1980. Hamburg: Taurus Press. p. 101.
  26. "The Irish Charts – Search Results – Those Were the Days". Irish Singles Chart. Retrieved 1 June 2013.
  27. "Japan #1 DISKS by Oricon Hot Singles". (in Japanese). Archived from the original on 26 December 2008. Retrieved 1 June 2013.
  28. "Nederlandse Top 40 – week 39, 1968" (in Dutch). Dutch Top 40. Retrieved 1 June 2013.
  29. "Hits of the World". Billboard. 13 June 1970. p. 51.
  30. "Mary Hopkin – Those Were The Days". VG-lista. Retrieved 1 June 2013.
  31. "Hits of the World". Billboard. Vol. 60, no. 48. 30 November 1968. p. 88. ISSN   0006-2510.
  32. "Hits of the World". Billboard. 16 November 1968.
  33. Salaverri, Fernando (September 2005). Sólo éxitos: año a año, 1959–2002 (in Spanish) (1st ed.). Spain: Fundación Autor-SGAE. ISBN   84-8048-639-2.
  34. "Hits of the World". Billboard. Vol. 80, no. 46. 30 November 1968. p. 71. ISSN   0006-2510.
  35. "Mary Hopkin – Those Were The Days". Swiss Singles Chart. Retrieved 1 June 2013.
  36. "Official Singles Chart Top 100". Official Charts Company. Retrieved 1 June 2013.
  37. 1 2 "Post Card – Awards". AllMusic . Retrieved 1 June 2013.
  38. "CASH BOX Top 100 Singles – Week ending NOVEMBER 9, 1968". Cash Box . Archived from the original on 30 September 2012.
  39. "100 Top Pops" (PDF). Record World . 2 November 1981. p. 25. Retrieved 9 September 2017.
  40. " – Mary Hopkin – Those Were The Days" (in German). GfK Entertainment charts. Retrieved 18 March 2019. To see peak chart position, click "TITEL VON Mary Hopkin"
  41. "50 Back Catalogue Singles – 21/11/2009". Ultratop. Hung Medien. Retrieved 16 July 2013.
  42. "Jaaroverzichten 1968" (in Dutch). Ultratop. Hung Medien. Retrieved 24 April 2014.
  43. "The RPM 100 Top Singles of 1968". RPM . Vol. 10, no. 19. Library and Archives Canada. 6 January 1969. Retrieved 30 June 2018.
  44. "Top 100-Jaaroverzicht van 1968" (in Dutch). Dutch Top 40 . Retrieved 24 April 2014.
  45. "Schweizer Jahreshitparade 1968" (in German). Hung Medien. Retrieved 24 April 2014.
  46. "Top 100 Hits for 1968". The Longbored Surfer. Archived from the original on 25 November 2010. Retrieved 24 April 2014.
  47. "The CASH BOX Year-End Charts: 1968". Cash Box . Archived from the original on 14 August 2012.
  48. "American single certifications – Mary Hopkin – Those Were the Days". Recording Industry Association of America . Retrieved 20 June 2023.
  49. "From the Music Capitals of the World". Billboard . Vol. 80, no. 47. 23 November 1968. p. 75. ISSN   0006-2510.