Terrifying German Culture Hour — „Music“
Music is the universal language, they say. And every country and culture has their equivalents of grand symphonies, dirty ditties and horrible songs. Germany is no different…
…you’d think. And you’d be wrong. Especially in the 70es and 80es, there was a union of music, showmanship and.. well, humour, creating a blend that might be a bit hard to understand. On top of that, there was the perceived need to have songs in german language.
Let’s have a look at the results, shall we? Americans will probably have heard „The Battle of New Orleans“ at some point. I mean, Tommy Horton and even Johnny Cash performed it.
Well, considering that it is a song that commemorates the victory over the british, it is a bit surprising that Les Humphries changed the lyrics to some sort of complete nonsense when he landed this hit in Germany:
One of the many singers involved here is Jürgen Drews, who, much later in life, become King of the Mallorquins:
The need to localize was strong, and spanned all genres of popular music. With an utter disregard to the source material. Enter Cindy & Bert, germanys very burgeois and tame Sonny & Cher, performing their version of Black Sabbaths Paranoid:
(In case your german is failing you: They are indeed telling the story of the dark Hound of Baskerville)
But fear not — there was originality in german music, even at that time. And some songs even got sung in english. But with more showmanship than any broadway production could ever hope for — exhibit a: Genghiz, err, Dschinghis Khan, singing… Dschinghis Khan:
This song was as big a hit as the production makes you think it is. Really, it was the number one hit in germany for 29 weeks! Produced by Ralph Siegel, they immediately also took Moscow by storm:
Still, you can’t have terrifying german music without acknowledging that germans are actually able to build more terrifying things on top of it. Enter german 70es prime comedian Otto, conducting a live orchestra performance of Dschinghis Khan:
Do not be fooled: This man is a musical genius, who can take the names of the dissidents & dictators and beat box ahead:
A propos Ralph Siegel. This guy is a titan of the german music business, responsible for the production of what feels like 95% of all terrifying german culture. Europeans might remember his very weltschmerz-driven plea for „a little bit of peace“:
I should let you enjoy that peace and end this blogpost at that point, but remember, this is Terrifying German Culture Hour after all. So here, have another cover song, this time based on Grease’s You're the One that I Want — a title that german ears easily mishear as the equivalent of „the bathtub is full“. Yes, german is a weird language, I know:
And next time, I’ll explain the connection between cartoon bikers and two grown men in sailor suits.