#THE REAL ME: Eurovision memories from John Stanton

THE REAL ME: Eurovision memories from John Stanton

We at Eurovision Ireland want to hear from you. Is there a song that really means something to you? Something that made you really fall in love with Eurovision? Something that you associate with a particular event in your life? In our ‘Real Me’ articles, we get to the root of why we can’t get enough of Eurovision.

Today we hear from John Stanton…

Those of you that know me will know I have a fondness for one Eurovision country – Slovakia. Since first visiting there in 1997, I have been hooked by the cities, the people and the beautiful beautiful scenery. I always enjoy going back there. And i know of only one other non-Slovak that was in the audience of both of their national finals, in 2009 and 2010.

In Eurovision terms, my Real me song is naturally a Slovak one, and it’s not one that many people know. It’s Amnestia na neveru by the band Elán. Still not a song you know? Well, I try and explain.

In 1993, Eurovision was in a state of flux. Lydia Capolicchio and Harald Treutiger put it succinctly in 1992 when they said east was no long east, and west was no longer west. Anyway, by 1993 we’d seen the last of Yugoslavia, and a clutch of newer countries wanted to exercise the competitive vocal chords.

The EBU therefore had a quandary. They wanted these countries in, but it would make a very unwieldy contest. And as 1993 was going to be in the County Cork town of Millstreet. It was already a logistical nightmare finding accommodation for 25 countries, plus RTÉ employees and domestic and international press. So, Frank Naef and his pals in Geneva came up with a preselection. A semi-final if you will. Seven countries headed to Ljubljana to compete for three berths in Ireland.

As we all know, Croatia, Bosnia and Herzegovina and preselection hosts Slovenia made it through. But just one place behind this trio of ex-Yugoslavs was Slovakia’s entry. By sheer fluke, the Slovak juror did his country out of a place in Millstreet.

Anyway, Elán were a very established band in their homeland, and Amnestia na neveru to me is an all-time classic of theirs. It has me hooked from two bars in, with the slightly downbeat guitar riff. It builds so well, and the vocals of lead singer Jožo Ráž are some of the best I’ve ever heard. And then there’s the further riff before the final chorus. This is song that goes well either with or without an orchestra. It would have gone down a storm in Millstreet. It is pure, unadulterated genius.

I liked this song so much, in 1999 when I was in Slovakia, I actually went hunting high and low for a record shop in Bratislava, aiming to track down the song on CD. Naturally I did (as well as picking up Katarína Hasprová’s album), probably much to the dismay of my travelling companions on that trip. Just so you know, the song is on the 1994 album Hodina angličtiny.

Of course, Amnestia na neveru is one of my go-to tracks when putting a playlist together. My friends are probably sick of me saying how good it is. But am I right? Watch the video and you be the judge.

Author: John Stanton

Source: Eurovision Ireland

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