In 1995, I was in a pub and the song Darmodej (The Malefactor, maybe, although it's translated as The Wastrel), by Jaromir Nohavica, came on the radio. It was... Leonard Cohen. Early Paul Simon. The strong quiet voice that you cannot ignore. I can't explain it, there's a fine chain between poetry and my heart and I felt the tug even though I didn't understand the words. I remember saying: I can stay in a country where this is what comes on the radio.
My Czech friend and I set about trying to translate all his songs, for the meaning, for the meat, and while I never can seem to catch the poetry and put it into English, I slowly came to feel the rightness of it in Czech in a way that I don't begin to comprehend. He is absolutely a poet, because his words work on the page, but he is even more absolutely a musician, because his words turn to spells when he sings them.
He is loved here, although little is known about him personally; in fact a movie was made about people trying to get at him, to understand his songs by getting close to him (and vice versa) and at the end of the movie we know nothing more than the disappointed fans in the film. (This is another reason I wanted to stay here, that the most beloved musician is loved for his art, rather than his tabloid activity.)
I never expected I'd get to see Nohavica. The man is stadium-level popular, and I didn't want to see him being a tiny ant. I like him singing to me sweetly in my personal ear, and though I would swoon if it were in real life, it does pretty well via headphones.
But on Sunday he played in a basketball gymnasium, a strange little unadvertised thing, and a friend of a friend had tickets and I went. I spent most of the time with tears streaming down my face; it's like I've decided to put all my feelings behind a wall but the art still pierces right through, and I have cried for Matisse and Miro and Monet and now Nohavica, and I'm not sorry (not least because at least we're moving along in the alphabet).
It was amazing. It was perfect. I loved when he talked, I loved when he didn't, I loved when the audience sang along and when he moved us to awestruck silence. I didn't even put it on my "dream" list because I never thought it would be possible, and I am so beyond happy it was.