Two Grönemeyer Songs

I was asked to make a special appearance at a theater event this weekend, and as the theme will be “Men”, we batted around some songs about them, one of them being Männer by the German pop singer Herbert Grönemeyer. We decided not to use it, but it put a few of his other songs back in my head, songs which non-German-speakers have probably never heard.

Grönemeyer himself may not be completely unknown to you, if you have seen the 1981 German film Das Boot — he played the young Ensign Werner. A couple of years later he broke through as a pop singer in the German charts and has enjoyed commercial success ever since. I was not a fan of the Euro-pop synthesizer sound, but I came to Germany right around the time that his album Chaos came out, and this song, Land Unter, was on the radio. It was different from everything else being played at the time. The phrase Land Unter means underwater, both in the sense of flood waters and of being overwhelmed or stressed out; the song has a distinct maritime feel to it.

Now, I’m not the first to say that this official video sucks, but let’s remember that it’s from 1993 and Germany was still catching up with its music video skills (it looks exactly like the film team went to some location on the African coast, lost all the at-sea footage, and just filled in with what they had taken for fun.) The translation (von mir) doesn’t do the sea themes justice, but it may bring you closer to what he’s singing. It’s basically a simple love song.

The wind leans in
The air is like ice
The gulls screech stubbornly
The elements duel each other
You hold me on course
I have no fear of going under
Spray flies in my face.
I’ll fight my way to the horizon
Because I will meet you there.

Guide me home
raw endlessness
You’ve been away too long
Light the fires,
So that I can find you.
Climb aboard to me.
Take over the watch
Bring me through the night
Rescue me through the storm
Hold on to me tightly
So that I can hold onto myself
Bring me to the end,
Don’t ever let me go.

The heavens howl
The sea is high
Waves fight against you
They throw me from trough to trough
The forces are against me.
You are an ocean away
Rain whips at me
And it is senseless,
It shouldn’t be
I am not giving up on you.

In comparison, an equally beautiful song (and this time with a much better video), Der Weg, released in 2002. In 1998 both Grönemeyer’s wife Anna and his brother died of cancer, within three days of one another. This song was written for his late wife and in it he sings of going on with life and holding her in his heart. It’s terribly, heartbreakingly sad. The end of the video is reminiscent of a scene in the film “The Truman Show”. A decent translation can be found here.

This entry was posted in Germany, lives of others, music, singing. Bookmark the permalink.

2 Responses to Two Grönemeyer Songs

  1. ellroon says:

    Hmphf! The videos won’t play here. Off to google Herbert Grönemeyer. Can I wish you a good time or do I need to keep on wishing you broken legs?

  2. Marcellina says:

    They won’t? Damn. They don’t work in Germany either (often I can watch clips in Austria but not Germany). For the first one, try this alternative (someone’s ocean shots to the song):

    And for the second one, here someone laid lyrics over the original video. I don’t know if they work but they might…

    A good time will be had by all, thanks! The guys are already looking forward to my appearing with them.

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