The pure hysterical awesomeness of Leningrad Cowboys

Today I was busy filming a short piece co-written and co-starring me and my good friend/Cracked article collaborator Peter for this film contest (with a cameo by Alex). Editing is going to be happening later, but I’m pretty pumped. It’s Always Sunny in Philadelphia is an awesome show, and if FX greenlit that, I think that’s sufficient cause for me to get my hopes up. Plus, so many things have already gone terribly wrong – from our original director getting really really sick at the last minute to us ditching our original script at the last minute because it sucked, to technical difficulties transferring the DV to my computer – that there’s some serious film contest-related karma coming our way.

None of that’s really important, though. What is important is that Peter had read this post on Ze Frank’s blog (which I really should add to my RSS reader now that The Show is over). And he passed on the awesomeness that is Leningrad Cowboys to me.

What’s Leningrad Cowboys? See the video below the fold. But be warned – you’ll be staring into the eyes of madness.

My immediate reaction to this was: “I don’t know what the hell is going on, but this is almost too strangely awesome for me to handle.” It’s like something I would dream after passing out listening to Led Zeppelin with a David Lynch movie on mute. Except weirder.

If you look in related links, there are a smattering of original Leningrad Cowboys songs, along with a bunch of other covers of songs in English. Like, for example, Knockin’ On Heaven’s Door.

Yeah, I know. What the hell?

If you’re looking for the origins of these guys to make this any less wonderfully strange, you’re out of luck. From the Wikipedia page:

The band was an invention of the Finnish film director Aki Kaurismäki, appearing as a fictional band in his 1989 film Leningrad Cowboys Go America. The fictional band, however, was made up of members of a real Finnish band, the Sleepy Sleepers, plus some additional people. In the film, they are joined by Nicky Tesco, former lead member of the UK punk rock band, The Members. After the film, the band took on a life of its own, recording music, making videos and giving concerts. The band appeared in two other Aki Kaurismäki films, the Leningrad Cowboys Meet Moses (1994) and the Total Balalaika Show (1994), which is a film of a concert performed by the band and the full 160-member Red Army Choir in Helsinki, Finland in June 1993. Kaurismäki also wrote and directed two videos featuring the band: their cover of the 60′s folk standard Those Were The Days (1992) and Thru The Wire (also featuring Tesco) (1992).

In 1994, the band appeared together with 70 members of the Red Army Choir at the 11th annual MTV Music Awards, at the Radio City Music Hall in New York, where they sang the Lynyrd Skynyrd classic Sweet Home Alabama. The show was seen by an estimated 250 million people worldwide. That same year, the band and ensemble again joined forces for the “NOKIA Balalaika Show”, a concert held in Berlin.

In other words, this is a band that was too strange to be fiction, and as a result, became real. And the Red Army Choir, by the way, is exactly what it sounds like.

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One Response

  1. I’m surprised you haven’t heard of Leningrad Cowboys. It’s just another reason to love Finland. If you haven’t heard Lordi, do so immediately.

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