Olympic: Báječné místo (Supraphon, 1968)

17 Nov

Báječné místo (Wonderful Place) is a song on Olympic’s second LP, Pták Rosomák (The Wolf-Bird), which along with their debut, Zelva (Tortoise), found itself withdrawn from circulation after 1968, though the band themselves continued to release records and perform. Perhaps the explicit criticism of the authorities implied in songs like this – ostensibly an innocent address to a child about the fantasy nature of fairy tales and bedtime stories, but likely to have been read as a somewhat sarcastic comment on the nature of propaganda and the perfect world always promised for tomorrow – had something to do with that. Olympic’s main songwriters, Petr Janda and Pavel Chrastina, were already veterans on the Czech beat scene when their debut LP appeared, the band having originally formed in 1963 and played in many different line-ups (under both the Olympic name and as the backing band for a variety of singers) on dozens of singles before its release. Zelva is usually said to be the first LP by a rock group in Czechoslovakia and its appearance in early 1968 was certainly a landmark, but Pták Rosomák is considered their masterpiece, an album that covers many styles and retains its status as something akin to the Sergeant Pepper’s Lonely Hearts Club Band of the Prague Spring. The Czech lyrics to Báječné místo can be read here, and the song itself can be listened to here.

Báječné místo (Wonderful Place)

(after Pavel Chrastina/Petr Janda, 1968)

And no, you can’t visit
the wonderful place
I lie about every night
when I sit at your bedside
before you sleep.

You know it well.
A country where nobody argues,
where one gives a flower
to another, who takes it,
smiles and waves.

A country where a woman
might give her life
to save her love, while he, in turn,
would sooner give himself
than go on alone.

You know it well.
A country where nobody argues,
where one gives a flower
to another, who takes it,
smiles and waves.

And no, you can’t visit
the wonderful place
I lie about every night
when I sit at your bedside
before you sleep.

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