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Evo ovu rumen ružu (195)

We are back, with another sevdalinka. This one may have been first performed by Zaim Imamović.

He sings slightly different lyrics than those in Velika Narodna Lira, but they are the same or similar in most parts.

Evo ovu rumen ružu

Iz mojega perivoja

Na dar tebi, dušo, šaljem –

Ime joj je ljubav moja.

Ako ti se miris svidi

I njezina čista boja,

Ti je primi dušo moja

Pa zakiti njedra tvoja…

Ako ti se ne dopadne,

Baci je u oganj živi –

Nek izgori, nek se stvori

Ruža moja pep'o sivi…

Ispod luga i pepela

Nasred tvoga perivoja

Izniknuće siva gljiva,

A zvaću je – mržnja tvoja…


Here's this rosy rose

From my garden

As a gift to you, darling, I send –

Her name is my love.

If you like the smell

And its pure color,

Receive it, my dear

Let it adorn your bosom…

If you don't like it,

Throw it into the fire alive –

Let it burn, let my rose turn into

Gray ash…

Under the grove and ashes

In the middle of your garden

A gray mushroom will emerge,

And I'll call it – your hatred…


That last line is really a zinger.

The words to this song are attributed to a poem by the influential writer Safvet-beg Bašagić (1870-1934), originally from current-day Bosnia and Herzegovina, who was famous for his poems and historical/political writing. Bašagić is listed as the author of the text on Imamović's first version of the song (Jugoton, 1963), as well as many subsequent recordings of Imamović and others. One story floating around about this song is that Imamović heard someone singing it in a kafana and then decided to record it himself.

Since then, the song has become a classic, recorded and re-interpreted by many different artists. Božo Vrećo’s a cappella performance on the TV program Sav taj Sevdah has the most views on YouTube. Other popular performances include Safet Isović, Divanhana (also a cappella), and the Marija Šestić & Dr Ammar Project (from the 2013 Sarajevo Sevdah Fest, as well as this version by Mostar Sevdah Reunion which sounds a little rock-inspired. I particularly like the voice of Nedžad Salković in his version here.

Cesar Campoy of the blog Sevdalinkas writes that in this song, “there are only two ways to position yourself as an interpreter. The first, somewhat more resigned and saddened... The second, more forceful and radical…” He attributes these styles to different singers: the first, to Imamović, and the second to Isović and Meho Puzić. I see what he means—most of the versions generally fit one or the other of these descriptions. Although, I do think some of the above vocalists use some nuance that such a strict division doesn't capture.

Most of the versions feature strings sections—violins—and a marching ¾ beat (strings, accordion, perhaps percussion), which gets softened by the addition of additional instruments (accordion, saz/tamburica, clarinet, as far as I can hear) playing longer notes during the sung verses, and these other instruments switch off playing melodic interludes between the verses. This sort of tension and release, march and relax change-off seems really characteristic of a certain style of sevdah.

There’s a version on YouTube with over one hundred thousand views, which is a live recording taken in a backyard featuring Emir Hot, Cakija Vasiljević, and Đusi Kovač. It’s instrumental (guitar) only, in a Django-Reinhardt-inspired jazz style:

I also found this beautiful oud version from Marina Toshich’s 2019 abum Sevdah.

From the text of a famous late 19th century writer to a kafana in the 1960s to backyard jazz jams and global stages, this song has really found its place in today’s sevdah canon.


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