Boldog születésnapot, ‘Lásko Má, Kéž Je Vítr Příznivý’ és ‘Ten Pravý, Ten První, Ten Můj’!

In the midst of all the celebrations in which I am engaged on this auspicious occasion of my 57th birthday (???) today I must not forget to mention ‘Lásko Má, Kéž Je Vítr Příznivý’ (‘My Love, I Wish The Wind Were Favourable’) and ‘Ten Pravý, Ten První, Ten Můj’ (‘Right, First, Mine’), both recorded by Valinka for the ‘Various Artists’ LP, ‘Zelené písničky’ (‘Green Songs’), celebrating the work of Czechoslovak TV, on my 16th birthday on 19th July 1977.

Here are the rather colourful front and rear covers of the sleeve of ‘Zelené písničky’.

Zelené_Písničky_Front

Zelené_Písničky_Rear

For full recording details and credits, please go to the ‘Valérie Čižmárová: A Life In Sound’ page of ‘Bananas For Breakfast’.

As is often the case in the course of Valinka’s recordings the grandeur of her voice in these two recordings stands in remarkable contrast with the sheer cuteness of her persona, as shown by this cover shot, dated 1977, by Antonín Krčmál, for her latter years singles….as if smilingly to say, “Happy Birthday, Sweet Sixteen, my fan of the future!”

By the way, I have reason to believe that the shot was reversed for the cover, as was the immortal rear cover shot for Valinka’s 1974-recorded eponymous LP released in 1975, so here it is helpfully reversed, ie., the right way around!

singly-1974-1981_Cropped_Flipped_02

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Boldog 45. születésnapot, ‘V poschodí pátém’ és ‘Malý princ’!

It was four-and-a-half decades ago today when ‘V poschodí pátém’ (‘On The Fifth Floor’) and ‘Malý princ’ (‘Little Prince’) were recorded!

To play these songs and to see the recording details and credits please go to the ‘Valérie Čižmárová: A Life In Sound’ page of ‘Bananas For Breakfast’.

V poschodí pátém

On this day four-and-a-half decades ago Valinka recorded, at the Mozarteum, ‘V poschodí pátém’ (‘On The Fifth Floor’) and ‘Malý princ’ (‘Little Prince’), so, by way of an introduction to today’s ‘Bananas For Breakfast’ post, this is another one of those cases where a post shares the name of a Valinka title, since I have written a poem whose title was inspired by ‘V poschodí pátém’…along with ‘Malý princ’, together with bits of lyrics from the following songs recorded by Valinka:

‘Mít aero a létat’ (‘To Have A Plane And To Fly’)
‘Tam, za vodou’/’Slunný podnebí’ (‘There, In The Water’/’Sunny Weather’)
‘Za sluncem, za vodou’ (‘In Sunshine, In Water’)
‘Hluboké vody’ (‘Deep Waters’)
‘Pojď jen dál’ (‘Just Come On’)
‘Sbohem, školní bráno’ (‘Farewell, School Gate’)
‘Synu můj’ (‘Son Of Mine’)

The poem also references the Espresso Kotva coffee bar by the banks of the artificial Lake Zemplín, where I think Valinka must have started her singing career with Otakar Krásenský’s Jazz and Swing orchestra, the Děčínská Kotva (Děčín Anchor) song festival, Valinka’s doctor husband, Josef Langer and the following poem I wrote at Herbert Strutt School aged eleven (in the academic year, 1972-1973) on the ‘Troubles’ in Northern Ireland.

Northern Ireland

Northern Ireland,
Desert island,
Why can’t we find an oasis?
No ordinary man can take this.

IRA,
UDA,
Why can’t the violence end today?
If it would, imagine tomorrow,
No more sorrow, no more sorrow.

From The Fifth Floor

Here,
Surrounded by the paraphernalia of modern existence,
We are all on Valinka’s ‘Fifth Floor’,
In the words of Petr,
The Markov, thereof,
Dreaming of the past,
That was the future, once,
Take flight,
With Saint-Exupéry’s Little Prince,
Over the Lomnický Štít,
And land,
Flying saucer-like,
As a circular coffee bar,
Anchored,
By the hot beach,
Fashioned by Eastern Slovak hands,
In the very interior of the Continent,
Where we can have our kilo of bananas for breakfast,
Our next anchorage?
The Děčín Anchor,
By the turbulent deep waters,
Of the Labe,
On a Summer’s day,
In sunshine,
In water,
I am a child,
I could get used to this,
But here we all are,
Adults on the fifth floor,
It’s half past five,
Friday afternoon,
Valinka says,
“Just come on!”,
Time to say hello,
To that school gate again,
Where I pleaded in poetry,
For Northern Irish peace,
Sung by McCartney,
Echoed by Valinka,
Am I the ‘Son Of Mine’?
That still-birthing Valinka never had,
Doctor Langer couldn’t cure her,
In life,
That’s my tough test,
In death.

Valinka: “az ötödik ‘Beatle'”

In another part of my musical life I follow around a Soul and Rhythm & Blues band by the name of Godfrey’s Grit ‘n’ Soul Band, to such an extent that I am humorously referred to as their ‘Fifth Beatle’ – thus inspiring the title of this ‘Bananas For Breakfast’ post – “Valinka: “the fifth ‘Beatle'”, in Valinka’s native Hungarian.

I say this because, after a long time thinking that, due to his jealously guarding his copyrights, Valinka’s cover version of Paul McCartney’s controversial protest song, ‘Give Ireland Back To The Irish’, as ‘Synu můj’ (‘Son Of Mine’) – the flip side of ‘To je léto’ (‘It’s Summer’) – would be for ever a closed and apocryphal book to me, thanks to a YouTube uploading by ‘Ondra N’ as recently as two days ago as I write (2nd July 2018) I can now add this incredibly maturely-delivered performance, by a Valinka four days short of four months after her 20th Birthday…that having been on 29th January 1972 and ‘To je léto’ and ‘Synu můj’ being both recorded on 25th May of that year…to the ‘Valérie Čižmárová: A Life In Sound’ page of ‘Bananas For Breakfast’.

It is almost inevitable for me to draw parallels between Godfrey’s Grit ‘n’ Soul Band and the famously “Black and proud” Commitments, of the fame of the film of the same name, Godfrey’s Grit ‘n’ Soul Band having a backing band and a group of three female singers up front.

Given her far-Eastern Slovakian and Hungarian-speaking roots I have always thought of Valinka having originated in a sort of version of the ‘Celtic Fringe’ of the Czechoslovakia of her day.

‘Synu můj’ is probably the most unmistakeable expression of that (Northern) Irishness on Valinka’s part…together with her later covering of Boney M’s ‘Belfast’.

In my fondest fantasies of a Valérie Čižmárová from the United Kingdom (we wish!), whom I have dubbed ‘Valerie Shoesmith’, as the nearest equivalent profession-based surname, given the fact that Valinka started her singing career with Otakar Krásenský’s Jazz and Swing band at a lakeside Jazz and Swing club by the banks of Lake Zemplín, near her home town of Michalovce, it makes me wonder about any possible equivalents by the banks of Lough Neagh.

I’m sure that other ‘Fifth Beatle’ – Northern Ireland’s George Best – would have been a very interested spectator of Valerie Shoesmith’s at this club.

It lends a whole new meaning to the term ‘fantasy football’!

Boldog születésnapot, ‘To je léto’ és ‘Synu můj’ (25.05) és ‘Sunny’ és ‘Čekám’ (26.05)

Today’s Valinka recording anniversary – one that cannot be overlooked in view of the fact that it was the recording session, on 26th May 1969, that kicked off Valinka’s singles-recording career of just over a decade’s duration (all too short!) – is a reminder of yesterday’s, on 25th May 1972, involving the unfortunately inaccessible cover of Paul McCartney’s controversial protest song, ‘Give Ireland Back To The Irish’ as ‘Synu můj'(‘Son Of Mine’), which must have been quite a contrast to the highly seasonal celebration of Summer, ‘To je léto’ (‘It’s Summer’) over on the other side of the record.

It is a pity that there are no lyrics available for ‘Synu můj’, at least, since it would have given ‘Bananas For Breakfast’ readers (not to mention myself!) an opportunity to see if they conveyed the same level of gravity as Paul McCartney’s original. I certainly think that a title like that indicates a song of some seriousness, as would be fitting for a year in which Valinka became a married woman – I would guess, in view of the evidence I have hitherto encountered, even though I have seen no actual confirmation of the year of Valinka’s marriage to Doctor Josef Langer – and may have been thinking of offspring, offspring that she never got to enjoy, experiencing numerous failed pregnancies, including one that, distressingly, if I have deduced correctly, ended up with a stillbirth.

Here are Miloslav Procházka’s lyrics to ‘To je léto’, at any rate, together with a translation, suitably adapted from ImTranslator’s. As can be seen, the lyrics are every bit as jaunty as Vladimír Rukavička’s music – the composer who would later go on to provide Valinka with the cool, Jazzy Soul of ‘Říkáš pořád, jak ti na mně záleží’ (‘You Keep Saying How You Care About Me’), the mournful and evocative ‘Huascarán’, in tribute to the fifteen Czechoslovak mountaineers who lost their lives in Peru in the Ancash Earthquake of 31st May 1970 and the uptempo Northern Soul-like ‘Spousta příběhů’ (‘Lots Of Stories’).

Slunce vodu zlatí,
tělu bronzem platí
za důvěru

The sun is burnishing the water,
Bronzing the body
For sure

Malíř z dětskou školkou
natře nebe šmolkou
bez úvěru

A painter from a kindergarten
Is painting the sky with a slush
Without credit

Řeka loďky houpá
a rtuť líně stoupá
v teploměru

The river boat swings
And the mercury rises lazily
In the thermometer

Tlustej pán se potí,
fotí dítka s chotí
dokud loďku nepřekotí.

The drunken man is sweating,
She takes pictures of children with her husband
Until the boat breaks.

REF
To je léto, to je léto, léto v povltaví
To je léto, to je léto, léto mladý věčně hraví
To je léto, to je léto, léto s vůní jív
To je léto, to je léto co má být

REF
It’s summer, it’s summer, summer in the bed
This is summer, summer is summer, summer is always playful
It’s summer, it’s summer, summer with a scent of java
It’s summer, it’s summer to be

Ryby všude berou
jak čerti se perou
o návnadu

Fish take everywhere
How to drain a pen
About bait

Parník vodu čeří
kuchař terce měří
na náladu

The steamer rigs the water
The cook cooks the course
On request

Někdo jede lodí
někdo líhat chodí
na zahradu

Someone is going by boat
Someone is going to mow
In the garden

Kluci jsou tu bosí
nosí písně kosí
dokud louky nepokosí

The boys are barefoot
She wears the song
Until the meadows are intact

REF
To je léto, to je léto, léto v povltaví
To je léto, to je léto, léto mladý věčně hraví
To je léto, to je léto, léto s vůní jív
To je léto, to je léto co má být

REF
It’s summer, it’s summer, summer in the bed
This is summer, summer is summer, summer is always playful
It’s summer, it’s summer, summer with a scent of java
It’s summer, it’s summer to be
It’s summer, it’s summer to be

Turning our attention to one day short of three years previously, after the above reference to Jazz, we are presented – in both ‘Sunny’ (a cover of Bobby Hebb’s Soul classic) and ‘Čekám’ (‘I Am Waiting’) with the evidence of Valinka’s background in the genre, together with Swing, with Otakar Krásenský in the formative days of her singing career back home in Michalovce.

There are no lyrics available for ‘Sunny’ – a rarity for the overwhelmingly Czech-singing Valinka…sung in Slovak, with lyrics by Ali Brezovský – but Rostislav Černý’s Czech-language lyrics to Mojmír Smékal’s lilting, foot-tapping, finger-clicking tune are available and here they are with another suitably adapted ImTranslator translation.

Řekl, že mě vezme někam, kde prý voní vřes,
a já tady na něj čekám, věrně jako pes.
Slíbil, že mě vezme s sebou
kam se vítr hnal.
Přesto, že mě uši zebou, já čekám dál.

He said he would take me somewhere where the heather smells,
And I’m waiting for him, faithfully like a dog.
He promised to take me with him
Where the wind was blowing.
Despite the ears of my ears, I am waiting.

Proč bych měla nevěřit, když mi řekl, že chce jít,
když mi řekl, že chce jít,
třeba na kraj světa jen a jen se mnou,
on jenom a já, jenom on a já.

Why should not I believe when he tells me he wants to go,
When he told me he wanted to go,
Maybe on the edge of the world just and only with me,
Only him and me, just him and me.

Nejde, ale to se stává, třeba nemá čas,
třeba někde vyběhává na kraj světa pas.
Třeba shání plachetnici
nebo drezínu
a tak čekám na stanici ať ho neminu.

It is not, but it happens, he does not have time,
Maybe somewhere passes to the edge of the world passport.
Maybe sailing a sailboat
Or sailing
So I’m waiting for the station to miss him.

Proč bych měla nevěřit, když mi řekl, že chce jít,
když mi řekl, že chce jít,
třeba na kraj světa jen a jen se mnou,
on jenom a já, jenom on a já.

Why should not I believe when he tells me he wants to go,
When he told me he wanted to go,
Maybe on the edge of the world just and only with me,
Only him and me, just him and me.

Když mi řek, že na kraj světa, nevadí mi mráz,
nejsem ještě plnoletá, mám na všechno čas.
Slíbil, že mě vezme s sebou
kam se vítr hnal.

When I tell you that on the edge of the world, I do not mind the frost,
I’m not yet of age, I have all the time.
He promised to take me with him
Where the wind was blowing.

Ať mě třeba nohy zebou, já čekám dál.
Já, já čekám dál,
já, já čekám dál,
já čekám dál.

May my legs be like me, I’m waiting.
I, I’m waiting,
Me, I’m waiting,
I’m waiting.

Neither are all that bad for a seventeen-year-old and can be enjoyed – together with ‘To je léto’, if not, sadly, ‘Synu můj’ – at ‘Valérie Čižmárová: A Life In Sound’, with full composition and recording credits and details.

Furthermore, Valinka’s mesmerising pair of eyes in Petr Polák’s photography for the sleeve of ‘Sunny’ and ‘Čekám’ and Luboš Svátek’s for ‘To je léto’ and ‘Synu můj’ can be enjoyed at ‘Valérie Čižmárová: A Life In Pictures’.

Boldog 45. születésnapot, ‘Důkaz mi dej’ és ‘Huascarán’!

Referring to this ‘Bananas For Breakfast’ post this time last year on the 44th Anniversary we can now celebrate an anniversary exactly on the half-decade.

Also, referring to this ‘Girls Of The Golden East’ post from the previous month – which reminds me that I missed, of course, the First Anniversary of the founding of ‘Bananas For Breakfast’ on 28th April, before which this specifically Valinka-related post would have appeared in a ‘Girls Of The Golden East’ context – I talked of a prospective Supraphon LP (yes – proper vinyl!) marking the 50th Anniversary of her big year of singles recording (in 2023) and featuring the ‘Lucky Thirteen’ tracks recorded that year.

To match up the numbers, possibly that could be brought forward by half a decade so that Valinka’s great year of 45 R.P.M. recording is marked on the 45th Anniversary thereof, sometime towards the end of this year.

What do ‘Bananas For Breakfast’ readers make of that suggestion?