Archive | October, 2011

Hana Zagorová: Svatej Kluk (Supraphon, 1968)

7 Oct

Somewhat different in style to Rokle, the previous entry here from Hana Zagorová, Svatej Kluk hails from the period of the Prague Spring rather than its aftermath, and its lyrics were written by Zagorová herself. It’s also among her best works in terms of performance, and she’s accompanied here by Flamingo, a band more often associated with Marie Rottrová (examples of their work with Rottrová can be heard on Tisíc tváří lásky and Chain of Fools). The Zagorová song, in contrast with these cover versions, is wholly original in composition: the song can be heard here (with footage of Zagorová in performance with Flamingo on a 1968 TV show) and a transcription of the Czech lyric can be read here.

Svatej Kluk (Sainted Boy)

(after Hana Zagorová/Richard Kovalčík, 1968)

My hands are clean, my dress unstained.
I see the world through a damask veil
as though I’m walking through my wedding day.

And you’re a Saint, a miracle, pure without washing
on the Damascus Road when darkness falls:
Am I in love or just stupid, my sainted boy?

When the wind sings loud you enter the house,
pull off your coat, start another fight with me:
we’re whirlwinds, flying among the sky’s red clouds

when home’s like a castle built of sand or mud.
Autumn’s sadness is blowing from place to place.
What can I say? My faith and flirtation blur.

I don’t know where one starts, the other ends,
whether this world’s miraculous, or merely strange.
Am I in love or just stupid, my sainted boy?

I breathe in, every sunset, how I feel for him
but storms always gather around our skins.
Dark clouds are roses when our lightning strikes.

Some tell me your vocation was to betray my faith,
but everything’s a story to gossips like those.
I’m at ease in my solitude at your side today.

My lips spoon honey from the golden air.
I spend whole days in wonder. My nerves are calm.
Am I in love or just stupid, my sainted boy?

I’m carried by hurricanes, dropped into your arms.
Shadows lengthen along the Damascus Road.
When the wind sings loudest you enter the house.

I’m at ease in my solitude at your side today.
Autumn’s sadness is blowing from place to place.
What can I say? My faith and flirtation blur.

I don’t know where one starts, the other ends,
whether this world’s miraculous, or merely strange
Am I in love or just stupid, my sainted boy?

Hana Zagorová: Mrtvá Láska (Supraphon, 1968)

5 Oct

Another song by Hana Zagorová, this time a more straightforward love song on the theme of loss. There’s a potent ambiguity here as to whether the death in the title is of the love between the central characters in the song, or of the unnamed loved one in a more dramatic physical sense: both interpretations seem possible, and this version follows Zagorová’s original (so far as I can tell) in allowing some slippage between the two readings as the lines proceed. The song is also notable for its echo, in places, of House of the Rising Sun, whose organ line appears to have found its way into this very different context, by accident or design. The song can be heard here, and the Czech lyric can be read here.

Mrtvá Láska (Love’s Death)

(after František Trnka/Hana Zagorová, 1968)

To all of the people this knowledge is given –
today is the morning our love died.

I walked at dawn, in the early sad light
where homes are shields and few words fall.

You told me you wanted my love behind walls,
my eyes grew moist, white breath failed.

I wanted to cry, lacked the strength to breathe,
closed the door on language and what you stirred.

Those words, in their sequence, had killed my heart.
You were a judge passing sentence: to execute.

So love died, then, and it was almost benign:
time to write a will, settle, then pass from life.

Perhaps love was too young, burned by fear?
Our time together left only a taste of ash.

That will is filled with sadness and unspent youth,
hands entangled, excited, in a speeding car.

Now I lay a wreath of rye in a white handkerchief,
a strand of child’s hair in a cellophane wrap.

I walk the cities, visiting each temple in turn,
clinking brass door-bells against clear glass, to ask:

Will you be careful? Don’t go loving as I did then.
Yesterday was beautiful. That love is gone
.