Saturday, March 25, 2006

Oh how I wish I was a kid again

I'm troubled. The other day I was listening to Ute Lemper's album Berlin Cabaret Songs most of which were written in response to the rise of Nazism and the end of Weimar Germany and WWII. What was so horribly troubling about these incredible songs was how they are all still relevant to the world today. And their relevance actually increases with each passing day. One song in particular strikes such a chord with what is happening in the USA right now I have decided to transcribe the lyrics here. It's called Munchhausen:

I came across a wondrous tree, as prickly as a porcupine
This cactus tree bore luscious fruit and giant roses red as wine
It rose so high into the sky, its top was far far out of sight
Its leaves recoiled from the day and then they turned to gold at night
And if you bored into its bark, hot coffee poured out rich and dark

Liar liar liar liar liar liar
I'm sick and tired of lies from you
But how I wish your lies were true
Liar liar liar liar liar liar
Truth is hard and tough as nails
That's why we need fairy tales
I'm all through with logical conclusions
Why should I deny myself illusions?

I saw a film the other day that really varied from the norm
There were no soldiers on parade and no-one marched in uniform
Its heroes were not supermen and no-one even shot a gun
The audience still loved the film though not a single war was won
But I was really shocked to see this film was made in Germany


I saw a court of law where all the justices were just again
Where all the lawyers worked for free and all of them were honest men
You could be rich, you could be poor, you could be Christian or a Jew
Your politics did not have sway on how a judge would rule on you
Their hearts were young, their minds were free, they judged all man equally

I saw a woman trying hard to feed her family of ten
She was poor and destitute and worse was pregnant once again
She knew what they would say in church, she sought a doctor out instead
Who told her if she had the child, she herself might well end dead
Then in the calm and gentle voice he said "the law says it's your choice"


I saw a brave republic where one banner flew for all to see
Its stripes of red and black and gold proclaim a new democracy
All banners from the past were banned, the empire's black and white and red
Yes now the black and red and gold was flying everywhere instead
And nowhere will you see those flags which sport the thing that zigs and zags


I saw a land that hated war and melted all its weapons down
to build a boat of love for kids who planned to sail from town to town
declaring peace for all the world, let killing now come to an end
Embrace your enemies instead, your former foe is now your friend
Every conflict now will cease and all of us will live in peace


While I was trying to find the lyrics on a website to save myself having to type them out I came across some reviews for the cabaret show Lemper did last year called Blood & Feathers where she performed this song and all of them mention the continuing relevance of the song. But there also many others on the same CD that could have been written last year rather than 60 odd years ago, The Lavender Song, Chuck Out The Men!, Oh How We Wish That We Were Kids Again all sent chills down my spine as I listened to them. I would love someone other than Lemper to re-interpret these songs and bring them back into the public eye, use them to make a statement, someone like oh I don't know Megan Mullally maybe. She has proven with a couple of tracks that she has the right sound and style to tackle songs from Weill and Brecht, she could if she so desired extend that repertoire. I would love to see it done. Alas, it's all a pipe dream.


Peter Rivendell said...

I`ve seen Ute Lemper a couple of times, and when she keeps it simple, she is an amazing performer. Munchausen is particularly heartbreaking. Have you heard Little Water Song? Beautiful.
I`m also fascinated by that pre-war Weimar cabaret scene - how different Europe would be now if it hadn`t been for the Nazis.

Popcultureboy said...

When I saw her on the brief tour she did for But One Day... she performed the most incredible version of Little Water Song I have ever heard. On the line "Look at my hair as it waves and waves" she started out in barely a whisper and sang the line slowly and by the time she got to "hair" she was in a full on belt voice that took my breath away. Stunning.