September 24, 2007

Jiří Dědeček: Romance postmoderní (Songs #2)

I think, some songs best stand for themselves. We're not always having a long enough attention span for a whole album with good songs. So, since I introduced Kinky Friedman's They Ain't Makin' Jews Like Jesus Anymore recently, I am planning to post some more individual songs that have touched me very much, in the one or other way. Unlike Friedman, who was singing in English, Dědeček's song cannot stand for itself, but requires some words of explanation, as I guess he's rather unknown outside of his native country, the Czech republic.
Jiří Dědeček (which could be translated as "George Grandfather") was born in 1953 and is currently the chairman of the Czech section of the international PEN club. He's publishing his poems in written form, but also records CDs in the classical singer/songwriter or Liedermacher tradition. Romance postmoderní (as you could guess already, it translates as Postmodern romance) is from the album Kdyby smrtka měla mladý (2003) and moves me because of the existential simplicity of the setting, the linking of an over-heated concept of contemporary humanities with the sorrows of the ordinary person, and last but not least because of the pretended naivité of the arrangement and singing. To share this with you, it's not enough to give you just a link for download. I tried to make a translation of the lyrics too. However, please help me to improve it, if you're either a native English or a native Czech speaker, for I am neither. If you can point out mistakes, ambiguities, and odd phrases, please leave a comment. My attempt at translating these lyrics goes like this:
We’ve been drinking beer with friends
and after the ninth bock beer
one spoke about good
and another one about evil

With my right ear I listened
and with the left I let it out again
and I was silent cause about this topic
I didn’t know anything substantial

The pub was smelling like steam
from some ritzy mash
and above it the youth bent
their postmodern physiognomies

On the opposite a languid miss
guzzled the last dumpling
and with her mouth full she said:
life’s the scheme of the devil

Perhaps yes, miss, perhaps no
I answered sharply
what else could she expect from a boy
just short above forty?

I see life very simply:
it’s possible that it’s a well
and so I stick to the pub
and enjoy being at the bottom

I keep sitting in the corner with my beer
and veal sausages
in the air the blue smoke is dangling,
in the john the literature newspaper...

Hope you have had the stamina to go through all my lengthy introduction and arrive here with enough interest to download and enjoy this. (The file is offered as a free download on the site of the label.)


bravo juju said...

posting single songs is a great idea. I like this fellow's idea of a well and being at the bottom. and thanks for the "jews"

Spring Day said...

Hm, maybe the "song"-series will become my version of "Bravo clippings" ;-) We'll see

bravo juju said...

I had thought of posting single songs every once and awhile, but then I simply didn't know where to start. Maybe I felt that the responsibilty with songs (popular music's minimal unit, as a friend of mine defines it) is heavier than with albums...
I fully support the idea of making a songs-series - actually, I'll be going on a long work trip in a few days and, having limited internet access, it will be much easier for me to download songs...;)

Spring Day said...

Hm, hm, you speak about responsibility. Now, that puts some kind of pressure on me. You only expect me to post "good" songs? Well, I'll not consider too much, I guess, but follow some impulse and my sudden ideas. However, concerning some songs I feel a bit reluctant, because I think: Oh, everybody knows that already anyway, so why posting it? Probably I won't even care about that too much - I'd like to have Robert Wyatt's "Soup Song" in this series, even if everybody knows it already.
P.S.: I like your friend's definition.