1929 – 12th segment: Caribou

Photo: Supraphon

In this series we introduce 100 songs which have gone down in the history of Czechoslovakia and the Czech Republic. They became popular by being played throughout important years and time periods or by winning the hit parade. Now it is up to you, our listeners, to vote for the best Czech song of the century. We continue with the year 1929.


On February 11th, the temperature in Litvínovice in Southern Bohemia fell to a record breaking -42.2 degrees.

Starting that summer, Czech Radio’s studio in Ostrava began to send out broadcasts.

On September 28th, during the celebrations marking the millenium of St.Wenceslas, the recently completed St. Vitus Cathedral was opened.

The hardened but fair man with Colts hanging low from his belt didn't only enter the heart of the beautiful farmer's daughter; the cowboy also became popular with Czech youth, thanks to American (still silent) films about the Wild West. Back then, Prague was a symbol of riches for those from the untamed, still empty surrounding neighbourhoods. Its romance attracted adventurous tramps and created a backdrop for dozens of spontaneously born tunes to be sung around the evening bonfire.

Photo: Supraphon
They were sentimental, humorous and ballad-style songs, dealing with nature, youth, love, courage and strong friendship. The first of these songs were reworkings of similar tunes. However, by the second half of the 1920s there were growing attempts to create unique melodies.

A ballad about the North American Caribou was written during this period by a young Jaroslav Mottl.

Three years later it was sung and recorded by his group Ztracenkáři, The Lost Ones. They were members of the tramping settlement choir the Lost Hope. It became a hit in 1929.