Tuesday, July 14, 2009

Karel Gott: 70th birthday

Exactly 220 years ago, on July 14th, 1789, the Bastille was stormed and the demolition of one of the most cultural European kingdoms began.

Despite some of the great values promoted by the French Revolution, we may have mixed feelings. Outside France, we are allowed to ask whether this event - that escalated and ultimately ended with France as one of the most socialist countries on the European continent - was such a good idea.

However, for our friends in France, I have only prepared one word: congratulations! ;-)

Gott's playlist.
Press the "tape" in the player to pick individual videos in the playlist. A description of this playlist is added at the bottom of this text.
Exactly 150 years later i.e. 70 years ago, on July 14th, 1939, the Golden Voice of Prague was born in my hometown of Pilsen, Protectorate Bohemia and Moravia in the Greater Nazi Germany (but his conception took place in the same town of mine in the First Czechoslovak Republic, a few weeks before the Munich Betrayal). Karel Gott would later become one of the main symbols of the modern Czechoslovak culture and one of the main pillars of the totalitarian entertainment. ;-)

Note that the previous paragraph was deliberately overshadowed by various memories of the sad history of my homeland in the 20th century. However, Karel Gott has been - and still is - such a special musician and has always been so focused on his profession (a role model for most Czechs in this respect!) that most of us forgive him his slightly friendly relationships to the previous regime that allowed him to travel, promote our nation, and become one of the first multimillionares in the socialist Czechoslovakia. Unlike Walt Disney, he already owns a Gottland during his life.

He was more than just a cowardly official musician of the communist regime. His boldest anti-communist act was that after they got drunk with Mr Waldemar Matuška and Ms Eva Pilarová around 1964, they were pissing on a communist delegation from a balcony. :-) But let's return to the 1950s.

After failed attempts to become a professional painter, he became a worker, a kind of electrician. In the late 1950s, he joined the wave of swing and rock'n'roll. The critics trashed him. His pretty modern music style, independence, and a relatively high-pitched voice were too much of a good thing for them. Karel Gott remained himself but the world has changed and began to appreciate Gott as the ultimate conservative standard of quality. As of today, Karel Gott has won our main annual contest, The Golden/Czech Nightingale, thirty-four times! ;-)

As I have mentioned previously, the beginnings were not straightforward: in 1962, he received 3 votes and placed 49th in the Golden Nightingale. :-) He won already the next one...

During his career so far, composer Karel Svoboda was his most frequent collaborator. Unfortunately, Svoboda shot himself dead in January 2007. Gott celebrates his birthday at a "private" party with 1,200 guests tonight. :-) Some Slovak newspapers inform about every motion of these guests: live.

The playlist

I decided to start the YouTube playlist embedded at the beginning of this text by Gott's Czech and German version of "Forever Young", quite an appropriate song for this 70-year fresh father. ;-) The Alphaville remake is followed by the Czech version of Maya the Bee, the theme song from a well-known Japanese-inspired German cartoon, and by the song When a Man is Having a Breakfast With a Woman (the title is much shorter in Czech, 7 syllables instead of 13).

The Little Bells of Happiness (in Czech and Slovak, a classic duet from the 1980s) and the corresponding Fang das Licht (Catch the Light, in German: a song Gott recorded when he didn't know relativity well yet) are played afterwards.

A directory of the following songs: Lady Carnival, I will sweeten my coffee (when you move on), The Safe (Strongbox), Ciao Darling (a famous Czech duet), Maya the Bee (German version), Three Nuts for Cinderella: a classic fairy-tale theme song (Where Might Your Nest Lie, Little Bird, German version followed by Czech version), Silent Night (Czech version), She's Herself (but different than I want), Pretty Woman (Czech version), I Must Do It Myself, I Will Remain Myself, Drink of Love Number Ten, I Praise the Time 100 Times, Years of Holidays, Grandma 1981 (folk style, in German, except for the Czech title, Babička), Einmal um die ganze Welt 2005 (in German), Long-Ago Sweethearts, What Good Fairies Wished To Us (duet with Ms Lucie Bílá), Sluice (a funny song from Ivan Mládek), Boom Boom Boom, Forever Young (version with 16 top Czech female singers), Karel Gott sings folk songs (in Russian!), Unchained Melody (in English, even more unusual!), When Sweethearts Are Crying, My First Love Is Getting Married Today, The Nomadic Blood (theme song from Circus Humberto, a soap opera), When I Was a Little Boy (women were caressing more gently, the songs were sweeter, the world was better, the summers were hotter than today (the 1940s), and there were no global warming alarmists; in Czech), Go to Search for Your Happiness (dedicated to Karel Svoboda, the composer of this song), The World Is Beautiful (with you; with Ms Jana Petrů), I Know the Way (to the cottage of Křemílek and Vochomůrka, cartoon heroes), Pity of the Lost Love (original Czech version of Vejvoda's Roll Out the Barrels or Rosamunde).

Hundreds of other songs can be found on YouTube and elsewhere.

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