GERMAN POP LYRICS: The 1930s Part 1

After my series on German pop in the 1960s and 1970s it seems natural to move onto… the 1930s! The songs of this decade featured a memorable mix of pop, jazz, cabaret and light classical music. Love was the main lyrical subject, but it was often treated with a sense of humour or (as here) frank sexuality. The rise of the Nazis cast an increasingly dark shadow over the musical landscape as the decade progressed, but in this series I will focus the charm of the music rather than the political backdrop.

Marlene Dietrich had been around for a few years when she got her big playing the role of Lola in “The Blue Angel” in 1930. ‘Talkies’ were changing cinema, and Dietrich’s voice was as important as her looks. The fact that she could speak English helped her get the role, as German and English versions were filmed simultaneously. The success of the film enabled her to launch herself as a Hollywood star, but she continued to make records for the German market. This saucy little number is from 1931.


Jonny, wenn du Geburtstag hast
Bin ich bei dir zu Gast
Die ganze Nacht
Jonny, ich träum' so viel von dir
Ach, komm doch mal zu mir
Nachmittags um halb vier

Jonny, wenn du Geburtstag hast
Und mich dein Arm umfasst
Die ganze Nacht
Jonny, dann denk' ich noch zuletzt
Wenn du doch jeden Tag Geburtstag hätt'st

Johnny, if it’s your birthday
I’ll be your guest
The whole night
Johnny, I dream about you so much
Oh, why don’t you come to me
At half three in the afternoon

Johnny, if it’s your birthday
And your arm embraces me
The whole night
Johnny, then I think at the end
If only you had a birthday every day


GERMAN POP LYRICS: The 1960s – Part 8

Not everyone was swinging in the sixties. Alexandra sang melancholy songs in her deep rich voice, many of which could have come from an earlier decade. In fact this track is based on “Golden Earrings”, the title song of a movie from 1947 starring Marlene Dietrich. The English original was recorded by artists including Dinah Shore, Peggy Lee, Bing Crosby and Alexandra herself. However I think this German version from 1967 with lyrics by Ernst Bader actually improves the song.

Alexandra’s life seems to have been as sad as her voice and she died in a car crash just two years later.


Zwei Gitarren
Erklingen übers Meer
Die Nacht ist voller Träume
Und mein Herz ist sehnsuchtsschwer
Zwei Gitarren
Erzählen mein Geschick
Die eine singt von Tränen
Und die andre singt von Glück

Du hast mir die Welt genommen
Und ich blieb allein
Du, wann wirst du wiederkommen?
Wann, wann wird das sein?
Zwei Gitarren
Erklingen sehnsuchtsschwer
Die Tränen werden bleiben
Aber du, du kommst nicht mehr

Two guitars
Ring out across the sea
The night is full of dreams
And my heart is heavy with longing
Two guitars
Tell my destiny
One sings of tears
And the other sings of happiness

You took the world away from me
And I was left alone
You, when will you come back?
When, when will it be?
Two guitars
Sound heavy with longing
The tears will remain
But you, you won’t come anymore



Marlene Dietrich became famous for her portrayal of Lola in the film “Der Blaue Engel” (The Blue Angel) in 1930, and the scene in which she sings this number, written by Frederick Hollander, has become iconic. German and English versions of the film were shot simultaneously, and this song is better known in the latter version.

As “Falling In Love Again” it has gone on to be recorded by many artists, notably the Beatles and Kevin Ayers.

However, only one of the three verses from the original German version was translated, and so English audiences didn’t get to hear the daringly erotic third verse.


Ein rätselhafter Schimmer,
Ein "je ne sais-pas-quoi"
Liegt in den Augen immer
Bei einer schönen Frau.
Doch wenn sich meine Augen
Bei einem vis-à-vis
Ganz tief in seine saugen
Was sprechen dann sie?

Ich bin von Kopf bis Fuß 
Auf Liebe eingestellt,
Denn das ist meine Welt.
Und sonst gar nichts.
Das ist, was soll ich machen,
Meine Natur,
Ich kann halt lieben nur
Und sonst gar nichts.

Männer umschwirr'n mich,
Wie Motten um das Licht.
Und wenn sie verbrennen,
Ja dafür kann ich nicht.
Ich bin von Kopf bis Fuß
Auf Liebe eingestellt,
Ich kann halt lieben nur
Und sonst gar nichts.

Was bebt in meinen Händen,
In ihrem heißen Druck?
Sie möchten sich verschwenden
Sie haben nie genug.
Ihr werdet mir verzeihen,
Ihr müßt' es halt versteh'n,
Es lockt mich stets von neuem.
Ich find' es so schön!


Männer umschwirr'n mich...

A mysterious ray
A "je ne sais-pas-quoi"
Always Lies within the eyes
Of a beautiful woman
But still, my eyes
At face to face
Sink deep into his
What to say then?
From head to toe I'm
Ready for love
Because this is my world
And nothing else at all
That's what I do,
My nature
I can only love
And nothing else at all
Men surround me
Like moths around a flame
And when they burn
I can't do anything about it
From head to toe I'm
Ready for love
I can only hold love
And nothing else at all

What trembles in my hands
In their hot pressure?
They want to spend themselves
They never get enough
You'll all excuse me
You'll just have to understand
It always lures me
I find it so beautiful

Men surround me...