DU BIST MEIN SOFA (SOFA #2) by FRANK ZAPPA

GERMAN POP LYRICS: The 1970s Part 5
“My pronunciation really sucks”

This song is from Zappa’s 1975 album “One Size Fits All”, and it was also released as a single in Germany. This American musician often combined complex music with absurd lyrics, and here they are in a mixture of English and German. His Deutsch pronunciation leaves a lot to be desired (a German friend says he can’t understand a word), but at least Zappa admits this in the introduction to the video above.
NB I have translated the German part of the lyrics below. There is a typically eccentric official translation, and I have included these lines in brackets where I have translated the song differently.

DU BIST MEIN SOFA

I am the heaven
I am the water
Ich bin der Dreck unter deinen Walzen
Ich bin dein geheimer Schmutz
Und verlorenes Metallgeld
Ich bin in deinen Rissen
Ich bin in deinen Rissen und Ritzen
 
I am the clouds
I am embroidered
Ich bin der Autor aller Felgen
Und Damast Paspeln
Ich bin der Chrome Dinette
Ich bin der Chrome Dinette
Ich bin Eier aller Arten
 
Ich bin alle Tage und Nachte
Ich bin alle Tage und Nachte
 
Ich bin hier
Und du bist mein Sofa...
YOU ARE MY SOFA

I am the heaven
I am the water
I am the dirt under (beneath) your rollers
I am your secret dirt (smut)
And lost metal money
I am down your cracks
I am down your cracks and scratches (crannies)
 
I am the clouds
I am embroidered
I am the author of all edges (tucks)
And damask piping
I am the chrome dinette
I am the chrome dinette
I am all kinds of eggs (eggs of all persuasions)
 
I am all days and nights
I am all days and nights
 
I am here
And you are my sofa...
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HALBSTARK by THE YANKEES

GERMAN POP LYRICS

‘Beat Club’ was the most important German pop music show of the 1960s. It was only broadcast once a month and, unlike ‘Top of the Pops’ in the UK, most of the bands played live. Many big names from the US and the UK appeared on the show, alongside German bands who also sang in English. However, the first song on the first ever show in 1965 was sung in German. The Yankees were from Bremen, where the show was recorded, which presumably helped them get the gig. Thankfully the shows have all survived, unlike ‘Top of the Pops’ whose tapes from the 1960s have mostly been wiped.

HALBSTARK

REFRAIN:
Halbstark,
Oh Baby, Baby halbstark, 
Oh Baby, Baby halbstark,
Halbstark nennt man sie, 
Yeah, yeah, yeah, yeah! 

Sie rasen 
durch die Straßen, 
und die Gassen, 
sie sind menschenleer. 
Blonde Bienen 
mit Bändern in den Haaren, 
und in schwarzen Leder, 
das sie tragen. 

REFRAIN 

Und die Maschinen 
sind alles was sie haben, 
heiße Melodien, 
sie heulen durch die Nacht. 
Sie rasen 
durch die Straßen, 
und die Gassen, 
sie sind menschenleer. 

REFRAIN
BEATNIK

CHORUS:
Beatnik
Oh baby, baby, beatnik
Oh baby, baby, beatnik
They call her Beatnik
Yeah, yeah, yeah, yeah!

They race 
through the streets
and the alleyways, 
they are deserted
Blond birds (women)
with ribbons in their hair,
and in black leather 
that they wear.

CHORUS

And motorbikes
are all they have,
hot melodies, 
they howl through the night.
They race 
through the streets
and the alleyways, 
they are deserted

CHORUS

ES BRENNEN DIE BERGE UND WÄLDER by CZERWONE GITARY (ROTE GITARREN)

GERMAN POP LYRICS: The 1970s Part 4
The Polish Beatles Invade East Germany

Czerwone Gitary (Red Guitars) were a Polish group who formed in 1965. By the end of the decade they had become so popular that people started to refer to them as ‘The Polish Beatles’ in their home country. They were also successful in East Germany, touring and having their records released there. This led them to record some material in German, which came out under the name Rote Gitarren. This track appeared in 1972 on the Amiga label.

ES BRENNEN DIE BERGE UND WÄLDER

Nichts kann mir dich nehmen,
nicht der dichste Strauch,
nicht der schmalste Steg,
nicht der längste Weg.
Hört nur, geht mal sehen,
was auch immer war,
trotz des tiefen Leid
halt einmal die Zeit.
 
REFRAIN:
Es brennt der Wald im Abendrot
Es blüht der Berg, wenn Sonne loht
So brenn' auch ich, mich kühlt kein Wind
Ich suche dich bis ich dich find'
 
Ich kann so nicht leben,
ohne dein Gesicht,
ohne dein Geleit (?),
deine Zärtlichkeit.
Alles kannst du geben
stumm und still auch,
spür es zugleich,
du machst mich so reich.
 
REFRAIN
THE MOUNTAINS AND FORESTS ARE BURNING

Nothing can take you away from me
Not the thickest bush
Not the narrowest footbridge
Not the longest way
Just listen, go to see
Whatever it was
Despite the deep sorrow
Stop time just once
 
REFRAIN:
The forest is burning in the sunset
The mountain blooms if the sun blazes
So I burn too, no wind cools me
I will search for you until I find you
 
I can’t live that way
Without your face
Without your company (?)
Your affection
You can give everything
Silent and calm too
Feel at the same time
You make my life so rich
 
REFRAIN

GITANA by LOS SHAKERS


They only ever released two EPs and never sold many records, but Los Shakers (no relation to the Uruguayan group of the same name) were one of the toughest sounding Spanish groups of the mid-1960s.

In 1965 they were on the bill supporting the the Beatles in Barcelona, they recorded their first EP, and they had a cameo in the movie ‘Megatón Ye-Ye’. The film starred Micky y Los Tonys and not long after two of Los Shakers left to join this group, who were more successful at the time. Despite this setback Los Shakers continued (with a new member Ricky Morales) and recorded a second EP in 1966 which includes this track. “Gitana” was their rock reworking of an old Spanish copla, a type of Spanish song associated with Andalusia, which had been recorded by Marujita Diaz.

Meanwhile, Los Brincos were the most popular group in Spain. However, at this point their frontmen Juan and Junior both left the group to work together as a duo. Rather than collapse Los Brincos decided to take replacements from one of the hottest groups in Madrid – Los Shakers. They recruited Vicente Martínez and Ricky Morales, the latter being Junior’s brother! It worked and the group continued their success until the end of the sixties.

Having key members poached by bigger rivals for the second time must have been a bitter pill to swallow, but Los Shakers tried to carry on. However, they split up in 1967 without having recorded any more material. A sad end to a group who could have been contenders.

GITANA

Gitana, que de las cuevas granadinas
Vas recorriendo el mundo entero
Llevando el fuego de tu sol.
 
Gitana, de negro pelo y tez morena,
De suave talle de agarena,
Eres aroma de una flor.

ESTRIBILLO:
Por eso en tus danzas y coplas
Tú llevas el lindo color
Del bello cielo de España,
Que es tierra de celos y amor.

Gitana, de negro pelo y tez morena,
De suave talle de agarena,
Eres aroma de una flor.
 
ESTRIBILLO
GYPSY

Gypsy, from the caves of Granada
You go around the whole world
Carrying the flame of your sun
 
Gypsy, with black hair and dark skin
With the charming figure of a Moorish woman
You are the aroma of a flower

CHORUS:
That's why in your dances and coplas
You wear the pretty colour
Of the beautiful Spanish sky
That is a land of jealousy and love

Gypsy, with black hair and dark skin
With the charming figure of a Moorish woman
You are the aroma of a flower
 
CHORUS

LEARNING DEUTSCH by EXTRABREIT

GERMAN POP LYRICS

German isn’t the easiest language to learn, and if you’re struggling you might relate to this song…

Extrabreit were one of the most successful bands in the NDW scene. This song is from their album “Europa” (1983). It’s mainly in English but with a few German words thrown in, and I have translated some of the less obvious ones in brackets below.

LEARNING DEUTSCH

Hello, my name is…
Guten tag, mein Name ist…
Pleased to meet you
Angenehm!

Of course you know der Kindergarten
And you may have heard of Blitzkrieg
Perhaps you’re a Besatzungskind (War child)
And Mami’s kleiner Liebling (Mummy’s little darling)

Kohl (Cabbage, also Helmut Kohl) is some kind of vegetable
That Sauerkraut is made of
Der Kanzler (Chancellor) don’t like to learn English
So here is Lesson One:

CHORUS:
Learning Deutsch – is so terrible
Learning Deutsch – es ist hart (It’s hard)
Ach, wenn (If) der tongue is breaking
You’ve got perfect pronunciation
So turn it all around and start to talk
Learning Deutsch

You brought us der Chewing Gum, democracy and Pershing
We brought you der Daimler Benz and the idea of Endsieg (Ultimate victory)
Now are we so close to the edge?
Please answer my urgent call
Wir küssen uns, wir küssen uns (We kiss each other)
Als wär’s das letzte Mal (As if it were the last time)

CHORUS

Say Motorherz! (Motor heart)
Say Stahlbanane! (Steel banana)
Ja, ja, ja!
Nein, nein, nein!
Dankeschön! (Thank you)

CHORUS

You can say you to me…

I’m very sorry

TIME by LA DÜSSELDORF

GERMAN POP LYRICS: The 1970s Part 3
Krautrock and the Neu! family tree

German rock and pop music is generally either unknown or laughed at in the UK. The main exception to this rule is Krautrock, a German version of progressive rock from the 1970s, which has become a hipster’s favourite. I recommend the book “Future Days” by David Stubbs for those who would like to investigate if further. One of the interesting things that Stubbs reveals is that most Krautrock bands were not popular in Germany at the time, and even today they are better known in the UK and the US than in their homeland.

Krautrock groups tended to concentrate on instrumentals, and when they did sing in was usually in English. Neu!, one of the most influential bands on the scene, were no different. The closest they came to a traditional song was the brilliant “Hero”. When they broke up their guitarist Michael Rother went on to Harmonia while drummer Klaus Dinger formed La Düsseldorf, and both these bands have already featured on this blog.

This song is from La Düsseldorf’s eponymous debut album which was released in 1976. Initially the lyrics switch between German, English, French and Italian, but the main body of the song is in German.

TIME

German: Zeit…
English: Time
French: Le temps
Italian: Il tempo
German: Zeit vergeht
French: Se passe
English: Goes by

German: Zeit
Meine Zeit - deine Zeit
Unsere Zeit - keine Zeit
Zeit
Frühlingszeit - Mädchenzeit
Kinderzeit - Rollschuhzeit
Weihnachtszeit - höchste Zeit
Jede Zeit - neue Zeit
Zeit - Zeit

Zeit ist Geld - schwere Zeit    
Ohne Zeit - höfliche Zeit (?)
Omas Zeit - liebe Zeit           
Kurze Zeit - Ewigkeit    
Zeit - Zeit - Zeit - Zeit

Zeit vergeht…

Kinderzeit…

Zeit
TIME

Time…
Time
Time
Time
Time goes by
Goes by
Goes by

Time
My time - your time
Our time - no time
Time
Springtime - girl time
Childhood - roller-skating time
Christmas time - highest time
Every time - new time
Time - time

Time is money - hard time
Without time - courteous time
Grandma’s time - loving time
Short time - eternity
Time - time - time - time

Time passes…

Childhood…

Time

WARUM GEHT ES MIR SO DRECKIG? by TON STEINE SCHERBEN

GERMAN POP LYRICS: The 1970s Part 2
Squatting in the German underground

In the 1970s, as in the 1960s, most German rock bands sang in English. English was cool: it was the language of rock. In contrast Deutsch was the language of Schlager and most German rock fans didn’t want to hear it.

One group who went against this trend were Ton Steine Scherben, an underground band who formed at the start of the Seventies. This is the title track of their self released debut album from 1971. It is an extraordinarily crude yet inspired effort that anticipates punk. The rebellious lyrics endeared them to the far left, not least the squatting scene. The first side of the vinyl, including this song, was recorded live.

Their somewhat mysterious name translates literally as ‘Clay Stone Shards’. However, Ton also has the meaning of sound (tone) and a Rolling Stones reference is clearly intended – The Broken Stone Tones?

WARUM GEHT ES MIR SO DRECKIG?

REFRAIN:
Warum geht es mir so dreckig, 
was kann ich allein dagegen tun?

Sieben Uhr aufstehen, 
Kaffee trinken,
zur Arbeit fahren, 
freundlich sein, 
den Chef grüßen,
nicht sagen, was ich denke, 
nicht denken, was ich sage.
Ich möchte am liebsten tot sein 
und von allem nichts mehr sehen…

REFRAIN
 
Fünf Uhr, Feierabend, 
zum Bus rennen,
„n' Abend Alter, n' Abend Alte“,
Abendessen,
in die nächste Kneipe gehen, 
Bier trinken.
Ich möchte so besoffen sein, 
dass ich alles nicht mehr seh'…

REFRAIN
 
Soll ich morgen abhauen
und gehen, wohin ich will?
Soll ich die Papiere holen 
und machen, was ich will?
Soll ich mir 'n Schuß machen
und von allem nichts mehr sehen?
Ich möchte endlich frei sein, 
aber wohin soll ich gehen?
 
Warum geht es mir so dreckig? …
WHY DO I FEEL SO MISERABLE?

CHORUS:
Why do I feel so miserable 
What can I do about it on my own?
 
Get up at seven o'clock
Drink coffee
Go to work
Be friendly
Greet the boss,
Don’t say what I think
Don’t think what I say.
I'd rather be dead 
And not see anything else…

CHORUS
 
Five o'clock, work ends, 
Run to the bus,
“(Good) evening old man, evening old girl”
Dinner,
Go to the next pub, 
Drink beer.
I want to be so drunk 
That I can’t see anything anymore…
 
CHORUS
 
Should I do a runner tomorrow 
And go wherever I want?
Should I get my documents 
And do what I want?
Should I shoot myself 
and see no more of it all?
I’d like to finally be free
But where should I go?
 
Why am I so miserable? …

MOLOTOV COCKTAIL PARTY by VIVI BACH & DIETMAR SCHÖNHERR

GERMAN POP LYRICS: The 1970s Part 1
Flush your toilet if you like this song

Following on from my series on German pop and rock in the 1960s, I will now investigate the 1970s…

Vivi Bach and Dietmar Schönherr were a glamorous husband and wife team. They had a hit in Germany with their controversial TV show “Wünsch Dir Was” (“Make A Wish”) in the early Seventies. Three families, one each from Germany, Switzerland and Austria competed on Saturday evenings in the Deutsch speaking equivalent of “The Generation Game”. You could vote for the family you wanted to win by flushing your toilet – national water consumption at that moment was measured to choose the winner!

Here they duet on a truly bizarre number which mixes Schlager with proto-punk lyrics. It appears on the kitsch compilation “The In-Kraut”.

Thanks to Steena at Lyrics Translate. I also took some information from this page.

MOLOTOV COCKTAIL PARTY

REFRAIN:
Kommt zur Molotov Cocktail Party, 
Cocktail Party, Cocktail Party
Und bringt 'ne Tüte Dynamit mit
Denn zur Molotov Cocktail Party, 
Cocktail Party, Cocktail Party
Bringt man statt Blumen Dynamit mit

Anarchisten und Faschisten,
Monopolkapitalisten
Sind gebeten, unsere Feten 
Nur mit Sprengstoff zu betreten

REFRAIN

Am heißen Büfett 
ist eine Puppe schnell 'ne blaue Bohnensuppe
Und die Gästen stehen so dumm, dumm rum
Die kalte Mamsell, die kommt herbei, 
verspeist ein Handgranatenei
Und bringt den Tellerminenwäscher um, um

REFRAIN

Delinquenten und Agenten, 
Plastikbombenproduzenten
Wir geraten, die Granaten 
Nicht in Barbeque zu braten

REFRAIN
MOLOTOV COCKTAIL PARTY

CHORUS:
Come to the Molotov cocktail party, 
Cocktail party, cocktail party
And bring a carrier bag full of dynamite
‘Cos to a Molotov cocktail Party 
Cocktail party, cocktail party
You bring dynamite instead of flowers

Anarchists and fascists, 
Monopoly capitalists 
May only attend our parties 
With explosives

CHORUS

At the hot buffet 
A doll gobbles up a blue bullet soup
And the guests stand around so dumb, dumb
The cold Mademoiselle comes over
Eats a hand grenade egg
And kills the anti-tank mine washer

CHORUS

Delinquents and agents
Plastic bomb producers 
We advise, the grenades
Don’t fry them on the barbecue

CHORUS

NB “Blaue Bohnen” are literally blue beans but this is German slang for bullets. The lyrics also make a pun on dumdum bullets. More hard to translate wordplay: Tellermine is a land mine and Tellerwäscher is a dishwasher.
NB ‘ne which appears a couple of times in the lyrics is an abbreviation of eine.

GERMAN GRAMMAR:

Zu can mean ‘to’, as in going to a place. Zu is always followed by the dative case.
There are two contractions: zu dem = zum, zu der = zur.
Party in German is feminine:

Kommt zur Molotov Cocktail Party

EL LOCO CHA CHA CHÁ by RENÉ TOUZET

“Louie Louie” is one of the most recorded songs of all time, and it has been covered by artists as diverse as Kraftwerk, The Spice Girls, Leonard Cohen and Julio Iglesias. What you might not know is that the writer Richard Berry took his inspiration from this song. Touzet was born in Cuba but based in the USA, and this track was recorded in 1955.

Thanks to Luciasykes at Lyrics Translate for transcribing the Spanish lyrics which I have translated.

EL LOCO CHA CHA CHÁ

ESTRIBILLO:
Ahí viene el loco, que amarren al loco
Que yo no quiero tener problemas con ese loco
Ahí viene el loco, que amarren al loco
Que yo no quiero tener problemas con ese loco
 
La gente se está volviendo loca
Nadie sabe dónde iremos a parar
Y según el comentario de la calle
La culpa la tiene el cha cha chá
 
ESTRIBILLO
 
Díselo porque se va a bailar el cha cha chá...
THE CRAZY CHA CHA CHÁ

CHORUS:
Here comes the lunatic, they should tie up that lunatic
I don't want to have problems with that lunatic
Here comes the lunatic, they should tie up that lunatic
I don't want to have problems with that lunatic
 
People are going crazy
No one knows where we're going to stop.
And according to the word on the street
The cha cha chá is to blame
 
CHORUS
 
Tell him why he's going to dance the cha cha chá...

WAS WERDEN WIR FINDEN by DIE BIENENJÄGER

GERMAN POP LYRICS

Die Bienenjäger (The Bee Hunters) were the first group formed by singer-songwriter Jochen Distelmeyer. They only ever released four songs, and these appeared on cassette samplers by the independent Fast Weltweit (Almost Worldwide) label in 1988. “Was werden wir finden?” is a great track which bears comparison to early Aztec Camera.
Distelmeyer then went on to form the band Blumfeld. They are considered to be one of the key bands in the ‘Hamburger Schule’, a group of Hamburg based indie bands which became influential in the early 1990s.

WAS WERDEN WIR FINDEN

Ein Brief von weit weg
So bist du mir nah
Wird das, was Du schreibst
Morgen Wirklichkeit sein?
Ein Sommer am See
Deine Haare voll Sand
Etwas Glänzendes in meinen Händen
Was werden sie finden?
Was… werden wir finden?
 
REFRAIN:
Lang, lang, lang, lang 
Lag ich wach
Und habe lang, lang, lang 
Daran gedacht,  
Was ich habe
Und was du suchst
Was ich sagen werde
Und ob du mir 
Dann wehtun wirst
 
Ein Bild von dir
So kann ich dich sehen.
Etwas Glänzendes in deinen Händen.
Was werden sie finden?
Was… werden wir finden?

REFRAIN
WHAT WILL WE FIND

A letter from far away
In this way you are close to me
Will this, what you write
Become reality tomorrow?
A summer at the lake
Your hair full of sand
Something  sparkling in my hands
What will they find?
What… will we find?
 
CHORUS:
Long, long, long, long 
I lay awake
And long, long, long 
Have I remembered
What I have
And what you're looking for
What I will say
And if you 
will hurt me then
 
A picture of you 
So that I can see you
Something sparkling in your hands
What will they find?
What... will we find?

CHORUS

GERMAN GRAMMAR: WERDEN

The verb werden used on its own means to become. NB Bekommen means to get (something).

e.g. Ich werde müde – I’m becoming / getting tired

However, it is also used to talk about the future when followed by an infinitive.

e.g. Ich werde singen – I will sing / I’m going to sing
e.g. Was werden wir finden? – What will we find?

This form of werden could be translated in English using ‘will’ or ‘going to’.
NB It is actually much more common to use the present tense to talk about the future in German. In this respect it is similar to Spanish.

e.g. Wir kommen morgen – We’ll come tomorrow (literally: We come tomorrow)
e.g. Ich bin bald zurück – I’ll be back soon (literally: I’m back soon)

The future tense can be used to avoid ambiguity that might arise if the present tense is used. Compare the following two sentences:

Ich bekomme kein Antwort – I’m not getting an answer (it sounds like I am talking about the present)
Ich werde keine Antwort bekommen – I won’t get an answer (it is clear I am talking about the future)

The future test can also be used to describe probability in a similar way to English:

Sie wird wohl nicht da sein – She’s probably not in / She’ll be out