Besides being undoubtedly the youngest looking 61 year-old in the world, Goran Bregovic is also the Balkans’ most prominent purveyor of neo-gypsy beats. But he’s also kind of the embodiment of the Balkans themselves, born in Sarajevo, in what is now Bosnia and Herzegovina, to a Croatian father and Serbian mother.
I don’t know much about him, but from what I’ve read he appears to be a mish-mash of Balkan influences. Which is saying a lot, and probably explains why his work is so layered and universal.
See, the Balkans are very much like Lebanon, more than either of us would like really. On a trip to Zagreb a couple of years ago, I was struck by how similar a lot of the discourse is to our own. Of course, the Croats themselves hate being assimilated to the Balkans, so for the sake of sematics, let’s call the place ex-Yugoslavia.
Most of us grew up with images of bombings and massacres perpetrated in these countries not so long ago. It seemed so surreal, countries at the heart of Europe, deeply beautiful countries, committing atrocities at the end of the 20th century. A lot of the scars of that conflict remain, and it doesn’t take long to sense them. And sense the similarities with Lebanon.
Religion still plays an important role, as does suspicion and fighting for scraps of land and influence. They’re still hunting down their war criminals 15 years after the conflict has ended. Much like Lebanon, history is never far in ex-Yugoslavia for anyone willing to look….