Monday, June 18, 2007

Waldemar Matuška: 75 years

On July 2nd, Waldemar Matuška will celebrate his 75th birthday: he was born in Košice, Slovakia - however he is Czech. Congratulations!

Since the 1960s, this bearded mannish tenor has been one of the stars of the Czechoslovak pop music, country music, and folk music. Let me choose his duet with Eva Pilarová, "Oh, This Heavenly Love":

Watch a Waldemar Matuška playlist with 30 songs or so.
Around 1964, these two people together with Karel Gott got drunk in Carlsbad and were probably pissing on a communist delegation from a balcony on the first floor. Matuška was the only one who was punished. He couldn't perform for one year. ;-)

His songs about love and life have always had a patriotic accent in them. That's why it was so shocking when he decided to emigrate to the U.S. in 1986. The official propaganda immediately dismissed him as a traitor and his songs were banned.

Matuška explained that he just couldn't breathe in socialist Czechoslovakia anymore. The verb refers both to the lack of freedom and presence of jealousy and other things as well as to his asthma that wasn't terribly compatible with the polluted Czechoslovak air.

Matuška's life in the U.S. wasn't trivial either because he didn't speak English and it is questionable whether he speaks English today. However, he learned how to do shoppings in the supermarket without any need to speak which was great. Sometimes he sang a song for a Czech in the pub for a glass of beer, sometimes he used the fact that his wife earned millions in real estate. ;-)

Of course, after the Velvet Revolution in 1989, his songs regained the glory they deserved and Matuška sometimes performs in Czechia although he lives in Saint Leningrad, Florida - a city that is now called Saint Petersburg again. :-)

A few more well-known songs:
Yeah, the cherries were getting ripe and mallowed

Sadly, Waldemar Matuška died on May 30th, 2009.

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