Thursday, November 18, 2010

Channeling Elvis In Czech


  Today is just one of those days when I lay awake remembering with fondness some of my favourite Czech pop music. Pavel Bobek, singing a Czech version of "Lord Have Mercy On A Country Boy" by Don Williams makes my day every time I hear it.. He also does a good Czech version of "My Home Town".The Czechs are strongly influenced by American political values and culture. There is a country music station in the Czech Republic that broadcasts mostly Czech country music. Because I don't understand Czech, it is possible for me to write articles while listening to it without being distracted by the lyrics in my own language.They pick the best of American country as well..

When looking up Karel Zich, who is known as the Czech Elvis, I was saddened to learn that he had passed away in Corsica  at the age of 55. Back in the 70's, he did a beautiful rendition of "Alice Doesn't Live Here Anymore.".

He also did a lively rendition of Elvis Presley's "Jailhouse Rock". back in 1983. I wonder if Vaclav Havel or any of the other czech dissidents listened to it when they were doing time?

Why do I like hearing American songs in Czech or other foreign languages.? When I was living overseas, it was a reassuring touch of the familiar to hear "Wildes Wasser" to the tune of the Moody Blues "Nights in White Satin" and other tunes rendered into local languages. Now, at a time when America is scoffed at, criticised and condemned, I hear in thes songs an underlying fondness for some aspects of American culture that as an American I find reassuring.

Most of these songs have completely different meanings to their lyrics. Very seldom are they a direct translation of the original song. With Google Translate it is possible to get song translations of varying qualities.

What most fascinates me in these songs derived from  American music is the mix of the strange and the familiar. I hope my readers will enjoy them.

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