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  • Writer's pictureEmily

Canule, bajole

I've been working on this post for a long time because of the translation, which was a bit tricky! (That's why it's out of alphabetical order.) I'm still not sure I've got it right, but I love this song and I think it's time to publish it. Looking forward to your comments!

Canule, Canule bajole,

Radule, slatka jabuko…

Bog da ubije majka ti,

Majka ti, pa i tatka ti,

Što mi te rodi ubavu,

Ubavu, pa i gizdavu…


Canule, Canule bajole*,

Radule, sweet apple…

May God kill your mother,

Your mother, and your father,

Because she gave me you, beautiful,

Beautiful, and elegant…

* Canule is a diminutive vocative, so it likely refers to the name of the girl being sung to, perhaps from “Cana.” Radule is similar, so it could also be the case that this is the girl’s name. Either way, one could be a name and the other a pet name, or both could be pet names. Bajole is also a bit unclear, but may have something to do with magic, in relation to the verb bajati, which can sometimes mean (loosely) to say a magic word and change something, and is also in the vocative form.


There is very little information about “Canule, bajole” online. I can find only two recorded versions of the song, including the above recording from Srboljub (Srba) Ivanović (1930-2007). The song was played on the Ratio Television Serbia Radio Pletenica show 1001 Trag on December 24, 2020; unfortunately, I cannot find a recording of the show available to listen to online. The online notes say that Ivanović was connected to the city of Niš (a city in today’s southern Serbian) throughout his life, so perhaps this song has some connection to that city, or at least to the south. Srba himself was born in Kragujevac, but his career mostly took place in nearby Niš, before he moved to Chicago.

Ivanović’s version has some extra words that are not included in Velika Narodna Lira, which also indicate the song might be from the southern Serbia/Kosovo area due to the mention of Prizren, a town in southern Kosovo. I tried to transcribe them, as I couldn’t find them written down anywhere. This is what I heard:

Otkud ima do Prizrena

Nigde lepše moma nema.

From here to Prizren

There isn’t a more beautiful girl anywhere.

The melody of the song seems to be based on a makam, as far as I can tell, as there’s a descending scale from A to D with a G sharp and not much else. In the bridge-sounding section a G natural is sung, but in the main melody it’s a G sharp. It’s recorded and performed as a fast-paced jaunt, but it could easily be slow and drawn out, giving the melody a lamenting sound, reminiscent of sevdalinka from the Vranje area (which we’ve already discussed).

The image used for the YouTube video is clearly intended to evoke this time, as we have musicians dressed and styled with certain stereotypically Ottoman elements, in front of an Ottoman-style house. (There are some other things one could notice about this picture but I'll leave that for you to do on your own). I'm not sure what this picture is supposed to be of, where it came from, or who made it.

The second version is from Dušan Kostić, on his 1995 album Simbil cvece.

According to the back of the album, as shown in the YouTube video, the song was recorded with the National Orchestra of Radio TV Beograd.

Kostić was originally from Leskovac and found fame singing in Belgrade, winning the 1976 Youth and Narodna Music Festival. However, he had a tragic death in 1996. Although it was declared a suicide at the time, there are still questions about what really happened the night of Kostić’s death, and his body was never recovered.

You can find a collection of all the songs from Velika Narodna Lira that are available on Spotify on my playlist.


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