OVAJ INTERVJU MOZETE DIREKTNO
PROCITATI I NA:
A Musician Who Lost His City
Friday, March 22, 1996, page
By Mike ZwerinInternational
PARIS - Haris Dzinovic opened his fat press
book with torn and aging color photographs of
young pop stars with winner smiles and good
complexions, accompanied by blurbs and press
releases in Serbo-Croat.
The name of his language has turned into a
kind of oxymoron, and a past tense prefix has
been added to the name of his country.
An Associated Press article dated Jan. 20 described
the ambience in a Serb café in Sarajevo: ''In
a scene typical of the strange dichotomies and
seeming contradictions that make friends of
enemies and enemies of friends in the former
Yugoslavia, the Serbs sitting around the table
are moved to sing, dance and cry to the music
of a popular folk singer, Haris Dzinovic, a
Now 40, Dzinovic won music industry prizes
and fanzine polls for composing, recording and
performing Gypsy-oriented folk music with his
own orchestra in top variety music venues and
In March of 1992, after being abroad on vacation,
he flew back to Belgrade as the war was starting.
He decided not to continue on to his hometown,
Sarajevo, because ''I am afraid of hand grenades
and assault rifles.'' There was heavy eye contact,
and the unspoken phrase - ''See, I am not afraid
to say I am afraid.''
Interviewed on Radio Belgrade shortly after
he arrived, Dzinovic was asked about the political
situation. He said that in his opinion if Belgrade
was bombarded by a hostile foreign force tomorrow,
''at least 100,000 Sarajevans would come here
and help defend it. We are countrymen. We are
comrades. This war is a scandal. Stop attacking
A few days later, he went to visit a friend
in Novi Sad, about 100 kilometers (62 miles)
away, where, late one night in a discotheque,
he encountered a man who did not approve of
such a fraternal point of view.
''What are you doing in Serbia,'' the man shouted.
''You are Bosnian, you are a Muslim. Go back
to where you come from.'' The man was obviously
drunk. Maybe he was jealous of the big pop star
with the fast cars and the beautiful women.
Either way, Dzinovic got the message. Love it
or leave it. He left.
He had been born and bred in Sarajevo. His
father was an engineer, his mother an economist.
He played the accordian at first, until discovering
that it was considered a proletarian instrument
- not intellectual enough, and not very ''sexy,''
as far as the girls were concerned. They had
their noses in the air.
So he taught himself the guitar and then he
slipped the janitor a bottle of slivovitz a
day so he could practice on the grand piano
in the high school gymnasium.
After signing a contract with a Sarajevo football
club, he decided to go to law school. He graduated
but had his first of many hits and a new career
as a pop star before he had a chance to practice.
Although he recently cut an album in English
(to be released this year, one song is called
''My Home-town, Sarajevo'') and speaks it well,
he is a resident of France now and he preferred
to be interviewed in French. Actually, he might
have come to France even without a war. Tired
of being a big fish in a remote pond, he had
been ready for a new career move anyway.
He arrived in early 1993, a refugee but not
a vagabond. He was liquid, he had deposited
money in West European banks. But he discovered
that the Yugoslav painter who had invited him
to Cannes had died. The painter's best friend
had made a fortune in real estate and offered
him the use of an apartment on the Croisette.
Thus based on the French Riviera (he has since
moved to Saint-Tropez), Dzinovic toured Europe
performing 77 benefit concerts for Bosnia in
three years. At the same time he founded a record
company. The widow of Claude François, the French
variety music star who wrote ''Comme d'Habitude,''
a song Frank Sinatra later made into an even
bigger hit called ''My Way,'' asked Dzinovic
to write Serbo-Croat lyrics to the melody. He
did and he recorded it, but at the last moment
he decided not to release the record at this
stage of the game. He does not want to be introduced
into the international market with a song already
so well known and associated with other singers.
''I'm not a debutant,'' he said, somewhat defensively.
But on the other hand he is exactly that in
the larger and richer territory to which he
One way or another, by now there has been so
much water under so many bridges that he cannot
imagine any circumstance that would tempt him
to sing in Serbo-Croat in Sarajevo again:
Returning to it now that it is reunited would
be considered a good, even noble deed by his
friends. But he snickered and said: