Boldog születésnapot, Valinka

(…as always, in the case of the deceased on GOTGE birthdays, without the exclamation mark, since there is always a tinge of sadness about the occasion)

Today, Valérie Čižmárová should have been celebrating her 65th birthday and given the fact that many of the ladies of the GOTGE Generation are currently enjoying yet another revival in interest and are appearing in live events I am certain that Valinka would have been one of the most in-demand of the crowd. I am, likewise, certain that – on the basis that it was mentioned towards the end of ‘Příběhy slavných – Léta letí’ that Valinka had plans to release some Soul songs, sung in English, shortly before being cruelly snatched from the World – it is highly likely that she’d have had quite a high profile in both North America and Western Europe. It is not out of the question that, in this country – given the connection with The Kinks via ‘Slunný podnebí’ and The Sweet via ‘Koko’ – appearances with those bands at major festivals may have come to pass. The possibilities are endless.

During my recent trip to Slovakia and the Czech Republic I did manage to make it out to the Nový židovský hřbitov (New Jewish Cemetery) on the final day (Monday 23rd January) of my time there, but the photos I took of the grave, I think, can wait until 7th March – the anniversary of Valinka’s death – before their appearance in GOTGE. Let us concentrate on beginnings rather than endings here…and on the basis that this photo was my own beginning with Valinka…

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…she must have been a beautiful baby…

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…already modelling her beloved polka dots, I see, as this publicity photo demonstrates – putting her up there with the likes of the Catherine Deneuves of the time in terms of the great beauties of the Europe of the 1970s, in my opinion….style and glamour on an almost breathtaking scale. Would anybody immediately associate this image with Communist-era Czechoslovakia?

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Reminding GOTGE readers that one of the aims of GOTGE is to start a new market in tourism – going on ‘Pop Pilgrimages’ to places of significance to the artists – one of the things that has struck me about both Prague and Bratislava is the ‘walkability’ of the cities, making a combination of using rail, public transport (if the walking is unduly taxing) and walking the way to go fully to appreciate how these locations fit into the wider scheme of things. Earlier that day, I started my walk out to the Nový židovský hřbitov with a visit to the Jan Kotěra-designed Mozarteum, on the street, Jungmannova, where Valinka had done some of her recordings. The red-roofed building on the right-hand side of the street is the Mozarteum – seen from the southern end of Jungmannova.

It is indeed an impressive location to be associated with the brilliant music that Valinka would have made there, like ‘Říkáš pořád, jak ti na mně záleží’ on 28th August 1972 and ‘Důkaz mi dej’/’Důkaz dej mi’ – depending on whether one is going by the original official title or the one tending to be used in recent compilations – on 4th May 1973 – the music for the former being composed by Vladimír Rukavička and the lyrics by Petr Markov, to the accompaniment of Studiový orchestr Pavel Vitoch and the music for the latter being composed (as The Archies’ ‘Who’s Your Baby’) by Jeff Barry and Andy Kim, with Czech-language lyrics by František Klečka, to the accompaniment of Skupina Svatopluka Čecha.

They demonstrate that Valinka could ‘do’ both cool (as ‘cool’ could be), in the case of the former and wild (as ‘wild’ could be), in the case of the latter.

Here are the lyrics to ‘Důkaz mi dej’/’Důkaz dej mi’, together with the best translation that the IMTranslator automatic translation application can manage, which, as always, cannot pretend to be particularly poetic, as such!

Důkaz dej mi, důkaz který má
Váhu vláhy nad pouští

Give me the evidence, evidence which has
The weight of moisture over the desert

Důkaz dej mi, důkaz mě zajímá
Mě štěstím rozum opouští

Give me proof, proof interested me
I sense happiness leaves

Kdekdo myslí bůhví jak jsi bohatý
Že máš v bance nejmíň milión
Věř mi láska všechno zlato přeplatí
Hledám ve Tvých očích Orion

Everybody thinks God knows how you’re rich
That you have in the bank at least a million
Trust me love all the gold overpay
I’m looking in your eyes Orion

Důkaz dám Ti, důkaz dej mi
Důkaz, který má
Váhu vláhy nad pouští
Ten důkaz dám Ti
Ten důkaz dej mi
Důkaz mě zajímá
Mě štěstím rozum opouští

I’ll give you proof, give me proof
Evidence that has
The weight of moisture over the desert
I’ll give you the proof
The evidence gimme
Evidence interests me
I sense happiness leaves

Prstýnek bys mohl dát mi z kapradí
Kroužek prostý jaký právě máš
Kapradí to stěží zlato nahradí
Ale Ty mi něhu k němu dáš

The ring you could give me a fern
Ring plain just what you
Fern’s hardly replace gold
But you do not give to him the tenderness

Píseň otázkou končím
Naposled se Tě ptám
Je snad zlatý kdo se zlatem chlubí
Na to se Tě ptám

The question of quitting
The last time I ask you
Is it a gold one gold brags
That’s what you ask

Důkaz dej, důkaz mě zajímá …

Give evidence, proof to me. . .

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The previous night I returned from a fascinating rail trip out to Slaný, where Jitka Zelenková and Jana Kocianová had appeared, with Karel Gott, in the TV show from the early- to mid-1970s, ‘Zpívá Karel Gott’ (‘Karel Gott Sings’) to manage some night-time shots of where Jitka was famously photographed with her other friend in the Music biz, Valinka, on the steps of the Karlův Most (Charles Bridge) as the two rising stars of the time, in 1970. I am not ashamed to say that there was some getting down on my knees and kissing the ground going on here! Well, one would! (about where Jitka’s and Valinka’s trailing feet were). So, Jitka’s record was photographed propped up on the left-hand pillar and Valinka’s on the right, as they were standing.

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Since the Most Legií (Legion Bridge), straddling the Střelecký ostrov (Marksman’s Island) is the next upstream on the River Vltava from the Karlův Most and since Valinka’s ‘Koňskou dráhou’ had been played in the background during the scene at the Café Restaurant on the island in ‘Jak utopit Dr. Mráčka aneb Konec vodníků v Čechách’ (‘How To Drown Dr. Mráček – Or The End Of The River Sprites In The Czech Lands’) that LP, on which that track appeared, had to trace the steps there, too. While at Aleš Korábek’s home town of Žďár nad Sázavou I also picked up a magazine at the newsagent at the railway station with Libuše Šafránková and her appearance in the aforementioned film mentioned in it, so that article had to be photographed there, in addition.

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Finally, near the eastern end of the Most Legií, I spied this poster for a forthcoming concert at the Lucerna by the aforementioned Sweet and amongst the many titles mentioned as their hits what should be absent but ‘Co-Co’. How could they!!!??? In this city!!!

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Go to the bottom of the class, Sweet!

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