A Czech song - Sametová

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rsalc1
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Postby rsalc1 » 25-Apr-09 23:34

Thanks to all for your comments.

I think that the song Sametová can be translated, in general terms, as follows:

Sametová
I remember years ago, when man first flew into space
life seemed good (it seemed like a good idea)...
and people could just hang out (docela dobře flákat).

Now the song talks about the devil:
he stood by the school, he spread his net to catch people
and after trying and failing, he created the electric guitar
and rock'n'roll was born.

The verses talk to a female (I am not sure who this female is!)
You remember, you lived here too
and don't pretend that you are different
you were a small, hardworking bee, completely soft as velvet (thanks eso for the explanation!)

Time went by , "bigbeat" came after rock'n'roll
Life seemed good: flowers and the assistants' smiles
Milena, a girl in the neighborhood
was crazy about Bob Dylan, but I don't mind, I have might rights (she probably likes me too)

Young and old and silly people beat on drums like all of us
and our heads were filled with the pop music coming from London

It then talks about Satan playing cards in a pub
and having a hand full of aces (Satan is such a cheater) :)

Verse:
You remember, but now it's different - už je to jinak
and this is making me cold - a jde z toho na mě zima
(does this mean "je jinak a tak nemám to rád"?)
you (who is "you"???) are a girl but then you were completely soft as velvet
(again, I don't understand: "ty" = "holka", but "ty" = "byla tehdá celá Sametová" - can anyone explain?)

And then came that Gorbačov, wearing cowboy boots (thanks scrimshaw for explaining!)
He came, then he left... and after him there were left duty free zones
(I don't know much about what Gorby this, so this section is a mystery to me)

And the last verse (again talking to some female...):
You remember how you were feeling (jak jsi se měla)
when you didn't know anything
it was such a beautiful cell (what was a "beautiful cell" krásná cela?)
and it was completely soft as velvet.

I think that this was a very difficult translation exercise that I decided to undertake. :roll:

-Rene
wer
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Postby wer » 26-Apr-09 1:54

Am I the only one who thinks that the song is about conformism? That “velvet one” is an euphemism for “conformist of a kind”?

I think we needn’t meditate what does the poet want to say in all the particularities (e.g. “I have my claim too”), let it open to interpretation.

The velvet one

I reminisce that time years ago when the rockets began flying into space,
it = (the space program) seemed to be quite a good idea.
The saxophones used to play wistfully and the swedish shirts used to be in fashion.
And quite comfortably, one could be a shirker.

When the Devil (lit. the horned one) stood by the school and we didn’t have schoolwork signed by the parents, at that time he (= Devil) started to cast his nets.
He, being learned from his previous failures, invented the electric guitar and the rock’n’roll was a newborn child.

(Do) you remember, you lived here too, and don’t pretend you’re different,
(you were) such a small eager beaver, entirely a velvet one.

The time came forth and, as if by accident, there was an easy-going big-beat era,
the flowers and the smiles of Slovak secretaries (perhaps typist, but definitelly females!).
Milena, the babe next door, was all crazy about Bob Dylan.
But it doesn’t matter, I have my clame too.

The old ones, the young ones or the stupid ones, they all beat just like we did,
with head full of London on the Thames.

Good old Satan used to play mariáš¹ in our local pub,
with his mitt teeming with trumps.

(Do) you remember, now it is different, at that time you were, my girl, and it makes me shiver, at that time you were entirely a velvet one.

Suddently came that guy called Gorbačov
who was known to all people in Dlabačov.
He left as soon as he came and nobody was bothered about it,
and after him there were left all the zones of freedom.

(Do) you remember how you were
when you didn’t know anything.
It was such a beautiful (pleasant) cell, an entirely velvet one.


¹Mariáš is a trick-taking game popular in the Czech countries. Notice also the ace of clubs with the picture of the Devil, you can see it in the clip.
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rsalc1
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Postby rsalc1 » 26-Apr-09 3:15

wer,

Thanks for such a great explanation. Thanks to it I can now understand the meaning of the song.

-Rene
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eso
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Postby eso » 26-Apr-09 9:00

rsalc1 wrote:]
I remember years ago, when man first flew into space
life seemed good (it seemed like a good idea)...


I believe it means, that it seemed as good idea, before people started to install nuclear warheads to rockets.

rsalc1 wrote:]
(again, I don't understand: "ty" = "holka", but "ty" = "byla tehdá celá Sametová" - can anyone explain?)


ty = you - it's one who song is meant for, in lyrics it's undetermined female person, but my interpretation is it's targeted to everyone, who lived in that period.

He came, then he left... and after him there were left duty free zones
(I don't know much about what Gorby this, so this section is a mystery to me)


"duty free zones" were one of unsuccessful attempts to implant pieces of capitalism to communist economic system. ( http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Perestroika )
When in trouble or in doubt,
run in circles scream and shout.
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rsalc1
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Postby rsalc1 » 26-Apr-09 17:23

Hello,
I am wondering if Sametová actually refers to "Sametová revoluce".

In other words, the singer talks about:
1. the good old days (man flight into space, people could be shirkers)
2. Satan: catching school children and inventing electric guitars and rock music
3. more good old days: bigbeatová pohoda, flowers, assistants' smiles, people beating on drums and listening to British pop music, Bob Dylan, etc
4. more Satan: playing cards and cheating
5. Gorbacov, who came and went but didn't do much good (according to the song)

But the refrain keeps talking about a girl who was there, who was beautiful, who was velvety.

Could this girl be the Velvet Revolution that was just there in the background while all the other things were happening?

Just a thought...

-Rene
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rsalc1
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Postby rsalc1 » 17-May-09 20:26

wer wrote:Am I the only one who thinks that the song is about conformism? That “velvet one” is an euphemism for “conformist of a kind”?

I think we needn’t meditate what does the poet want to say in all the particularities (e.g. “I have my claim too”), let it open to interpretation.

The velvet one

I reminisce that time years ago when the rockets began flying into space,
it = (the space program) seemed to be quite a good idea.
The saxophones used to play wistfully and the swedish shirts used to be in fashion.
And quite comfortably, one could be a shirker (one could hang out).

When the Devil (lit. the horned one) stood by the school and we didn’t have schoolwork signed by the parents, at that time he (= Devil) started to cast his nets.
He, being having learned from his previous failures, invented the electric guitar and the rock’n’roll was a newborn child.

(Do) you remember, you lived here too, and don’t pretend you’re different,
(you were) such a small eager beaver, entirely a velvet one.

The time came forth and, as if by accident, there was an easy-going big-beat era,
the flowers and the smiles of Slovak secretaries (perhaps typist, but definitelly females!).
Milena, the babe next door, was all crazy about Bob Dylan.
But it doesn’t matter, I have my clame claim too.

The old ones, the young ones or the stupid ones, they all beat just like we did,
with head full of London on the Thames.

Good old Satan used to play mariáš¹ in our local pub,
with his mitt teeming with trumps.

(Do) you remember, now it is different, and it makes me shiver,
at that time you were, my girl,
at that time you were entirely a velvet one.

Suddently came that guy called Gorbačov
who was known to all the people in Dlabačov.
He wore boots from Arizona (cowboy boots)
He left as soon as he came and nobody was bothered about it,
and after him there were left all the zones of freedom (duty free zones).

(Do) you remember how you were
when you didn’t know anything.
It was such a beautiful (pleasant) cell, an entirely velvet one.



wer,
this is a good translation into English. I made a couple of minor corrections just to try to make it sound better in English :)
blue = deleted, red = added

-René

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