I just happened to listen to a song tonight which brought up a memory. I was teaching in Slovakia and every morning on the fifteen-to-twenty-minute drive to work one winter, I kept on hearing this song on the radio that I really liked. Meanwhile, the thermometer in the car was regularly hitting minus twenty-two on that curious cold spot beside the VW factory in the countryside that we passed twice each day on our commute. Now I have this pleasurable sort of ear-worm going on with this song that reminds me of those times. One day I decided to play it to my class there, thinking it would get me down and groovy (sorry – I know this doesn’t work, but I am a Baby Boomer) with the upper-class Slovak element of the class.
I had to search the play lists on the radio station online to find the name of the band and the song – I only speak a little Slovak. It was IMT Smile (strange name I thought, for a Slovak band), which was founded by brothers Ivan and Miro Táslers, whose initial letters have given the name to the band.
Little Lenka in my class was amused. “Mr, Baxter – they are singing about love,” she sniggered (don’t exactly roll the Rs – just elongate them to get the East European accent). Well, I knew that. I knew Vela Laski meant “big love”. She told me that they were singing in Czech. I never knew that. But I was amazed at the tri-lingual ability of this giggling seven-year-old. I still love this song. I think it must be a mandolin , or something similar, that gives it that agreeable lead rhythm. And at one point it builds up to the most teasing crescendo before dropping back into the verse in a way that takes you along up with it. And at that point, you find yourself on a musical precipice, just waiting to get thrown down… the timing is perfect to throw you down from the cliff-edge. Put it on headphones, loud, and you will see what I mean. For me, it sends a shiver down my spine, every time. The vocals take a crazy left turn into “shwa” inputs, to “wa-wa-wa” and “oh-yehs”, that should be twee and naff, but somehow manage to work along with the Czech. The milliseconds of silence speak volumes – sublime enough to grab you throughout the song. All in all, it’s a jolly song that is really nice to drive to work with in sub-zero temperatures. Here it is, for your pleasure: