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?

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