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Deutsche Schlager: German Hit Songs

German Golden Oldies for Beginners

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Do you know who these people are? - Roy Black, Lale Andersen, Freddy Quinn, Peter Alexander, Heintje, Peggy March, Udo Jürgens, Reinhard Mey, Nana Mouskouri, Rex Gildo, Heino, and Katja Ebstein. If those names sound familiar, you were probably in Germany during the 1960s (or early '70s). Each of those people had one or more hit songs in German during that era, and some of them are still musically active today!

It's true that deutsche Schlager are not really “in” these days, especially the old, sentimental ones from the '60s and '70s sung by the people mentioned above and other German pop stars. But despite their lack of coolness and the distain of today's music generation in Germany, such German golden oldies are actually ideal for German-learners in many ways.

First, they usually have simple, uncomplicated lyrics suited for beginners: “Memories of Heidelberg sind Memories of You / und von dieser schönen Zeit da träum' ich immerzu. / Memories of Heidelberg sind Memories vom Glück / doch die Zeit von Heidelberg, die kommt nie mehr zurück” (Peggy March, an American from Pennsylvania, had several '60s hits in Germany). Even many of Reinhard Mey's folk ballads are not that difficult to follow: “Komm, giess mein Glas noch einmal ein / Mit jenem bill'gen roten Wein, / In dem ist jene Zeit noch wach, / Heut' trink ich meinen Freunden nach..” (CD album Aus meinem Tagebuch).

As I pointed out in a previous article about using German music for learning German (The Sound of Music... and Lyrics), German songs can be a very enjoyable way to learn German—both vocabulary and grammar. The title alone of another Peggy March song, “Male nicht den Teufel an die Wand!,” is also a German saying that means something like “don't tempt fate” (literally, “don't paint the devil on the wall”).

Seemann, deine Heimat ist das Meer” (“Sailor, your home is the sea”) was a big German hit by the Austrian singer Lolita in 1960. (Diese österreichische Sängerin hiess eigentlich Ditta Zuza Einzinger.) Other top tunes in Germany that year were: “Unter fremden Sternen” (Freddy Quinn), “Ich zähle täglich meine Sorgen” (Peter Alexander), “Irgendwann gibt's ein Wiedersehen” (Freddy Q.), “Ein Schiff wird kommen” (Lale Andersen), and “Wooden Heart” (Elvis Presley's version of “Muss i denn”).

By 1967, American and British rock and pop was already edging German Schlager out, but besides "Penny Lane" (Beatles), "Let's Spend the Night Together" (Rolling Stones), and "Good Vibrations (Beach Boys), you could still hear German hits on the radio (unlike today!). “Memories of Heidelberg” (Peggy March), “Meine Liebe zu dir” (Roy Black) and “Verbotene Träume” (Peter Alexander) are just a few oldies from 1967.

But if you weren't even around in the 1960s/70s or you've forgotten what those classic German oldies sound like, you can listen to them online! Several sites, including iTunes and Amazon.de, offer digital audio clips of these and other German songs. If you want the real thing, there are German “Hits of the...” and “Best of...” CD collections available from iTunes and other online sources, both in Europe and in North America. (I even found one online source in South Africa!)

NEXT > Part 2 - Amis und Evergreens
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Their Real Names - a.k.a.

Popular German Singers of the '60s and '70s and where they were born...

  • Roy Black = Gerd Höllerich (1943-1991) Deutschland
  • Lale Andersen = Liselotte Helene Berta Bunnenberg (1913-1972)
  • Freddy Quinn = Manfred Nidl-Petz (1931- ) Österreich
  • Peter Alexander = Peter Alexander Neumayer (1926- ) Österreich
  • Heintje = Hein Simons (1955- ) Niederlande
  • Peggy March = Margaret Annemarie Batavio (1948- ) USA
  • Udo Jürgens = Udo Jürgen Bockelmann (1934- ) Österreich
  • Rex Gildo = Alexander Ludwig Hirtreiter (1936- ) Deutschland
  • Joy Fleming = Erna Strube (1944- ) Deutschland
  • Lolita = Ditta Zuza Einzinger (1931- ) Österreich
  • Heino = Heinz-Georg Kramm (1938- ) Deutschland
  • Katja Ebstein = Karin Witkiewicz (1945- ) Polen

NEXT > Part 2 - Amis und Evergreens

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