What connection do artists such as ABBA, The Beatles, Queen, Stevie Wonder, Bob Dylan and Edith Piaf have with Czechoslovakia? Most of them never even performed in the country. However, Czech cover versions of their songs became huge hits in the former communist state. In many cases, domestic audiences didn’t even realise they were listening to cover versions, not being acquainted with what was going on beyond the Iron Curtain.
This practice of taking a world-famous hit from the English, French or Italian-speaking world and translating or completely rewriting the lyrics for a Czech audience had been a custom since the pre-war era of jazz and swing. And not only in Czechoslovakia – but perhaps more than in most countries, the practice was adopted with enthusiasm, and many Czechs, particularly of the older generation, still prefer their country’s own covers over the original versions.
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Author: Libor Kukal