55 Years on the Stage and Still Stealing our Hearts/ Petr Janda in San Diego
Who kisses you if not me ....who cuddles you if not me....Kdo Tě líbá když né já...kdo tě hladí, když ne já....Almost the entire audience of about ninety Czechs and Slovak, and a handful of Americans is singing in the Czech language along with the singer, hands are swaying in the air, a Czech beer or a California wine by the chair, some people have closed eyes, some smiling widely, all singing along...It is a scene to behold, we all feel butterflies somewhere within and something beautiful, pleasant and familiar is happening: It is a collective joy of experiencing together something that belongs to all of us. We become one singing voice with one huge happy soul and it is moving at moments: Here we are today, the Czechs&Slovaks expats tucked in a cozy green turn-of-the-century theater in the Western corner of America living tonight through a "Czech deja-vu" with a man who has been for many an idol. Petr Janda captured so well our soul and filled with it his songs in which we all reside. Each of us can find a piece of our individual self in many of his songs and in his legendary band Olympic. He sings as much to our moms and dads, as to us and as much to our kids... He is residing on the stage for the incredible 55 years and is still very much loved, admired, adored, and very much wanted. It is admirable how Janda can find for his songs a universal language and fill it with attractive stories, wisdom, philosophies, humor & create music that avoids the pitfall of the passage of time. The songs of Olympics belong to the treasure of our heritage, it belongs to a time capsule of our nation whose soul is immortalized in the songs.
Music has a great power and importance for any nation, but it seems that people who live in a regime, as Czechoslovakia did, treasure music with even a greater vigor and importance. Music and art meant an outlet, a power of inconspicuous resistance, an instantaneous joy of connectedness, it could express solidarity, it lent us the wings of hope, love, and camaraderie. Olympic was not a political band, but it was obvious on which side the band resides, and the band became the representative of who we are. The band sings about love, friendship, camaraderie, about future, abut silly dreams, fantasies, life's anecdotes....each song has so much humanity, a true meaning we can associate with, dominated by the excellent lyrics, fabulous inventive melodies and clever harmonies...and then, the warm, intriguing, unpretentious attractive, down to earth performances that just rock your soul beautifully.
Educated as a classical violinist, Petr Janda later graduated from a conservatory with the degree in composing. By the way, he can hum you about any violin concerto!! I tested him well!
It seems that he always kept abreast with life in a fair way, never lost a touch with reality, always took the right side of the affairs, and his fame and money never fogged his head. Life did not always prepared a fair play with him: he experienced the sweetest fruits of his stardom along with the most painful moments in his personal life; he lost his wife when she was only 46, later his son to cancer. It all added to the "humanity" of this special man who with his utmost passion and diligence became the biggest star of the Czech music scene.
I believe that good people are rewarded in life. Those who do harm and still succeed, will reap what they sowed one day. Petr Janda has been rewarded with the inspiration, zest, talent for music, and because he is a decent person who never lost dignity, integrity, modesty, and humility, he has almost no adversaries. And that is a true privilege of a few.
I recommend highly his intriguing very well written book "Dávno", full of revealing stories about his life, a Czech music scene, peripeties of his band, personal views, his wins, losses, grievances and celebrations.
I am happy that our family and several close friends had a chance to spend some fun times with him. We talked it all: politics, music, books, famous Czech people, traveling, his family, his projects, his plans. Good to know we share many views on life, music, society and we are happy to declare to the world what a fine special man he is.
And what about those rock fans - those girls waiting under the stage? Guess what! Petr Janda is 76 years old and we, the girls of all ages, are still crazy about him, dressing up for him, waiting in line to have him sign, shake hands, for a kiss (a Czech tradition is to kiss on the lips, I know how strange for a foreign observer that must be!), for a photo with him... And he puts everyne at ease, it is easy to talk to him, you feel as if you knew him all along. His magnetism, his easy-going nature, his sincerity, his passionate approach toward life and toward music, his ability to see "the good" in everything and everyone make him that man that may be a megastar, but this past Friday, he was one of us.
Another special touching inspiring night is over and again I am happy I have here people who feel and see things just like I do. To experience beauty with others is the most joyful things there is.
Enjoy Tomas Majek photos! Thank you Poe Street Band and thank you Jiri Vlcek for all your hard work!!