Ne klepechi nanulama
This simple but beautiful melody is my favorite Bosnian song. I first heard it many years ago, at a wedding in Los Angeles where I sat in on bugarija (the equivalent of rhythm guitar) with the Yeseta Brothers tamburica band. They played this tune late in the evening, with guests crowded close and singing along, and it burned a hole in my heart. Rick Schneider, who taught me most of what little I know about tamburica music, played it once more for me at his home a year or so later.

That was the last time I heard the song until 1995, when I met a Bosnian musician named Rifat (whose last name I can't remember) at a singing party at my home in Atlanta.

"There is this Bosnian song I love ... but I can't remember its name," I told Rifat.

"Is it this?" he asked, and played it on guitar. You can imagine how I felt hearing it again after so many years. He taught it to me that night, gave me the words and played it into a tape recorder. The words are those of a son speaking to his wife after visiting his mother's grave. Here it is.

Image: Sheet music
(The last two lines of each verse are repeated)
Ne silazi sa chardaka
i ne pitaj gdje sam bio
zashto su mi ochi plachne
zbog chega sam suze lio

Stajao sam kraj mezara
i umrlu majku zvao
nosio joj dar od srca
ali joj ga nisam dao

Ne klepechi nanulama
kad silazish sa chardaka
sve pomislim, moja draga,
da silazi stara majka

Don't come down from the balcony
and don't ask where I've been
why my eyes are full of tears
why I've been crying

I went to the graveyard
and called for my mother
I brought gifts from my heart
that I could not give to her

Don't make that noise with your shoes
as you come down from the balcony
because I always think, my dear,
that it's my mother coming down

Neven Smoje, of Perth, Australia, tells me the song, one of the biggest hits in the history of Yugoslav folk music, was written by Husain Kurtagic and made famous by the Bosnian singer Nedzad Salkovic.