Arthur Russell – A Little Lost


I’m a little lost without you
That could be an understatement

A little over a week ago I wrote about Arthur Russell’s Corn. Another posthumous monument to an artist who died long before the world could appreciate his genius, it got me spelunking into the vast caverns of his discography, picking out old gems for an even closer look.

I found this wonderful fan-made video, using footage from a Soviet animated short, Girl And Dolphin, by Rosalie Zelma. Paired with the dreamlike love song A Little Lost, it’s an achingly gorgeous way to spend three minutes.

Since the film wasn’t listed on IMDb (thanks, Cold War!) I did a little sleuthing. I discovered that Zelma’s 1979 short film was originally soundtracked by Eduard Artemev, the musical wizard behind some of my favorite films, including Stalker and the original Solaris, both directed by legendary Russian filmmaker Andrei Tarkovsky.

I can’t urge you enough to watch the original film. Over a mere 10 minutes, the story follows a young girl who is saved by a friendly dolphin. The two share a close bond, swimming and playing, until the dolphin is captured and taken to a circus. The girl spends the rest of the story breaking the dolphin free, hoping to return it to the wild. If the story sounds familiar, it’s because it was adapted into the 1993 blockbuster Free Willy. I can only hope that Zelma was properly compensated.

The song itself is a blurry lament for romantic confusion and longing, warmed to life by cello, acoustic guitar, and Russell’s iconic reverb-drenched voice. To me, it’s the sonic illustration of the exquisite Portuguese word, saudade. Having no direct translation, the word describes a deep emotional state of profound melancholy and nostalgia, longing for a loved one who may never return. It’s the “love that remains” after an object of affection has long since disappeared.

Arthur Russell’s music has a unique ability to eviscerate me while compelling me to get up and dance. He crafts ebullient love songs for the fundamentally brokenhearted. It’s all too perfect, and I couldn’t ask for more. Songs like this strike at who I am, down inside, more than anything else I’ve ever heard.

I’m so unfinished
Our love affair
A voice in me
Is telling me to run away

3 thoughts on “Arthur Russell – A Little Lost

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