Miroslav Škoro performing in Zagreb on May 31, 2019 (Photo: Marin Tironi/PIXSELL) Miroslav Škoro performing in Zagreb on May 31, 2019 (Photo: Marin Tironi/PIXSELL)

This tamburitza tune, which roughly translates to "Leave my prairie be", referring to the vast flatlands of Slavonia, has become a kind of patriotic anthem. Škoro wrote the song in Pittsburgh in 1989, at a time when he was feeling homesick.

"I was married to a wonderful American lawyer with Croatian roots, Kim, who has been living with me, here in Croatia, for many years now. In the first few years of our marriage we lived in Pittsburgh and that's where I wrote the song. We recorded it in Jerry Grcevich's studio. We had no idea what would come later,” Škoro told Croatian Radio in a recent interview.

The song was originally called I will return, and Škoro says returning home was very much on his mind at the time.  

“It was all that mattered to me and I believe those words, that line, inspires the emotions that made the song so popular among our emigrant community.”

Two years later, Croatia would be fighting a war for independence, and the song would take on a whole new meaning. A music editor at the public radio station Radio Osijek played the song for the first time on August 1, 1991 and after that it went on to become a huge hit.

“It's a bit difficult for me to talk about because it's such an emotional subject. If I wasn't so old and if I hadn't seen and lived so much already, my heart would explode, but thank God, my quadruple bypass is working well! I'm excited that during my lifetime I have seen our people all around the world singing this song. This is a great honor and I am very thankful,” Škoro said.

On Friday, May 31, Miroslav Škoro performed a special outdoor concert with dozens of guest performers in Zagreb to mark Zagreb Day and Zagreb Veterans’ Day and to celebrate the anniversary of his hit song Ne dirajte mi ravnicu. The event also included one thousand tamburitza players from all over the country.