Archive | June, 2012

Josipa Lisac: Ne Prepoznajem Ga (Jugoton, 1973)

18 Jun

Taken from side two of Josipa Lisac’s concept album Dnevnik jedne ljubavi (Diary of a Love), released in 1973 on the Zagreb-based Jugoton label, the State record label of the former Yugoslavia, Ne Prepoznajem Ga is a lengthy, elaborately arranged track dramatically evoking one of the later stages of the relationship whose beginnings and ending are traced across the album’s ten songs. It might best be understood as a version of the same idea of writing about adult relationships that had also underscored Marvin Gaye’s similarly-themed  Let’s Get It On (an LP released on Motown in the West around the same time as Lisac’s LP appeared in Yugoslavia) and perhaps there’s a similar impetus here to that behind Halina Frąckowiak’s Idę Dalej, released in Poland in 1974, too. Whatever drove this series of adult themed recordings in the early 1970s, there’s little doubt that Lisac’s material – written and composed by the songwriting team of Ivica Krajač and Karlo Metikoš, with arrangements by Brane Živković – is the equal of anything produced elsewhere in Europe or America in the period (many thanks are due to Simon Norfolk for both alerting me to the quality of this LP and supplying me with a copy). The song itself can be heard here.

Ne Prepoznajem Ga (I Don’t Recognize This)

(after Karlo Metikoš/Ivica Krajač, 1973)

I go with him silently through the city.
Everything seems like it used to be
but I feel, in my heart, it’s not the same.
His movements: I don’t know.
His gestures: no, I don’t know them.

He is walking faster than before.
His handshake is no longer hiding things.
Of his loving touch, whose gentle warmth
was once my refuge and shelter,
I ask: are these the hands that protect me now?

I follow his gaze but he remembers nothing,
not the table, the coffee, even my name.
He buys me five carnations,
forgets I don’t like them at all.
He whispers another name, not mine.

I follow in his steps as he walks away
but he’s going nowhere, everywhere,
down roads I’ve never seen before.
He pours me whisky with ice.
I can’t see myself in his eyes anymore.

I go with him silently through the city.
I don’t understand him or even know myself.
Everything seems like it used to be
but I feel, in my heart, it’s not the same.
This man I follow is a man I don’t know…

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Hana Zagorová: Tisíc nových jmen (Supraphon, 1969)

12 Jun

Perhaps a more straightforwardly pop-orientated song than some of the earlier posts featuring material performed by Hana Zagorova, such as Rokle and Svatej Kluk. The lyric is a simple call to a lover that asks him, instead of stumbling in speech, to join the equally inarticulate Hana in renaming the world around them, expressing love through a playful (perhaps Edenic) act of making things new rather than more conventional (and probably doomed) attempts to describe feelings. It may also be worth noting that Zdeněk Rytíř is a key songwriter of the era and was also responsible for many contributions to The Golden Kids’ and Marta Kubisova’s extensive catalogues of songs, including some of the material which, in the years after 1968, led to Kubisova’s banning from recording, broadcast and performance. The Zagorova song presented here is less controversial in theme – though in its suggestion that the world be remade in secret, and language renewed, may well have a subtext of its own, albeit not a particularly obvious one – and its arrangement follows an oompah-style rhythm between its soaring choruses that manages to stay just on the right side of mere novelty. A 1969 TV performance of Tisíc nových jmen performed at a fairground shooting booth can be seen here and the original Czech lyric can be read here.

Tisíc nových jmen (A Thousand Names)

(after Karel Svoboda/ Zdeněk Rytíř, 1969)

I’ll not tell, being sad and shy;
I’m breathless as Monday,
cool as the breeze in your golden hair,
quiet as a reflection in glass.

What do I want to say, anyway?
I no longer know – do you?
Can you remind me, give me advice?
Where shall we go?

Maybe we can name the flowers,
forget what we know,
spin new words by the thousand
from this feeling, now?

It’ll be more beautiful than wearing
the empty weekday hours
like so many dull dresses
on a rainy, grey afternoon.

Think of it: thousands of new names
for a thousand flowers.
No one but us will know
how we’ve wiped the dust from this world!

Let’s go further still, name the wind
where it shakes a rose,
pretend we no longer recognise
the words we’ve learned for anything!

Come on, let’s make these flowers new,
sigh, say something, anything,
write a word on each leaf…
What else did we want to say, anyway?