To, co w życiu ważne… Saying Goodbye to Krzysztof Krawczyk
Written by Adela Skowronski on April 13, 2021
One of Poland’s most beloved baritones was laid to rest this past Saturday. A man whose voice touched generations of people through his lengthy repertoire of songs: some cheesy, some flirty, some serious, but all sung straight from the heart.
I’m not going to pretend like I’m qualified enough to write an article dissecting the finer points of Krawczyk’s life. I am a millennial after all; I have not grown up with Krawczyk in the media, nor have I payed enough attention to piece together a description using scandals and magazine articles. Instead, I’m here to talk about what I do know about this brilliant performer – his music.
If you’re looking for a way to get into Polish music, Krzysztof Krawczyk’s discography is certainly a great place to start. There is something inherently Polish about the songs Krawczyk released throughout his career. His ballades were sweepingly sentimental with lots of minor to major chords; his boisterous dance songs often pulled from melodies & vocal styles rooted in Polish Roma tradition. Krzysztof was even a founding member of one of Poland’s most famous beat bands, Trubadurzy – a 60’s group combining elements of Polish folk with poetry & rock music.
Polish beat band Trubardzy, which in this photo consisted of Krzysztof Krawczyk, Marian Lichtman, Slawomir Kowalewski, Bogdan Borkowski and Halina Zytkowiak
Like many Polish American kids, I grew up with Krawczyk’s singles on the radio, in movies, and even occasionally on the CD player in my parents’ house. However I realized quickly after Krawczyk’s death that I’ve never listened through any of his albums from start to finish. So, after reading up a little on his life, I decided to go with Krawczyk’s comeback album To co w życiu ważne (2004). It was the first album he released after a musical hiatus and, coincidentally, the one that would define his image during his later years.
To co w życiu ważne translates as “That which is important in life” – a moving title. It’s impact is doubled when you know about the shift Krawczyk was trying to make in his life at this point. He had previously been known as a Polish playboy, a flamboyant singer who liked girls and drinking. This album solidified his shift into Poland’s older, wiser, hopeless romantic. It was a more lovable image that was associated with Krawczyk until his last days, and will likely be associated with his memory for years to come.
Krysztof Krawczyk on the cover of his 2004 Platinum album – To, co w życiu ważne
I’m a big fan of Krawczyk’s more mature sounding voice in his later years. He was one of those rare singers who managed to maintain warmth even in his more gravely vocal range, which pairs wonderfully with this album’s organic instrumentation and themes. Here there are still elements of Krawczyk’s Romani influences on songs like Letni Wieczor, but in general the album has a tone of wistful retrospection, comfort and slowing down. The songs are all about love: aren’t they always? Still, no matter how cheesy, the album’s sincerity shines through from beginning to end. There’s only one song that I had to skip on my listen through and that was Krawczyk’s duet with Muniek “Lekarze Dusz” (Doctors of the Soul). Reggae-style sounds were very popular in Poland during the early 2000s but I can’t say I agree with the pairing of voices or mix on the track! (Reggae fans might enjoy it though.)
Albums aside, what is my final verdict on Krzysztof Krawczyk? What will his musical legacy be? In my opinion Krawczyk leaves behind a legacy of love. From his team of fantastic musicians, to his soulful voice, the songs Krawczyk performed were all about reminding us of that which is important in life.
So with a glass of your favorite wine in hand, I propose a toast to the one and only Krzysztof Krawczyk…. bo faktycznie życie jest za krótkie, żeby pić marne wino 😉 Rest in peace.
Favorite tracks on “To co w życiu ważne”: To co w życiu ważne, Letni wieczór
Other tracks you should check out… Życie Jak Wino, Krawczyk’s cover of My Cyganie, and Trudno Tak