In Part One we discussed the benefits of using German oldies for learning German. In this section we'll take a closer look at deutsche Schlager, put in a good word for deutsche Evergreens, and add some more related Web links.
Several readers contacted me to mention other German stars and Americans who had success in Germany decades ago. Although I wasn't really trying to write a comprehensive article on the Americans, it's worth mentioning that besides Peggy March, there were several other U.S.-born singers who either recorded exclusively in German or had several German-language hits in the 1960s or '70s. Even the Beatles recorded a few of their hits in German ("Komm gib mir deine Hand" and "Sie liebt dich"). Here are a few of the "Amis," along with the names of some of their hit songs (most of them fairly forgettable):
Amis in Deutschland
- Gus Backus (Donald Edgar Backus) "Der Mann im Mond," "Da sprach der alte Häuptling der Indianer," "Die Prärie ist so groß," "Schön ist ein Zylinderhut." "Sauerkraut-Polka"
- Connie Francis (Concetta Franconero) "Eine Insel für zwei," "Die Liebe ist ein seltsames Spiel," "Bacarole in der Nacht," "Lass mich gehen," "Schöner fremder Mann," "Sternenmelodie," "Jedes Boot hat einen Hafen"
- Peggy March (Margaret Annemarie Batavio) "Male nicht den Teufel an die Wand," "Memories of Heidelberg"
- Bill Ramsey "Zuckerpuppe" "Schokoladeneisverkäufer," "Souvenirs," "Pigalle," "Ohne Krimi geht die Mimi nie ins Bett." (English Bio)
Now let's move on to those Evergreens and the Grand Prix for music!
Grand Prix Eurovision
Since 1956 there has been an annual European popular song contest, broadcast all across Europe. In all that time the Germans have only won once: Nicole sang Ein bisschen Frieden ("A Little Peace") in 1982 to win the number one spot that year. Germany won second place three times in the 1980s. In 2002, Corinna May from Germany placed a very disappointing 21st! (ARD - Grand Prix Eurovision)
The German word Evergreen has nothing to do with trees and everything to do with classic popular songs by people like Frank Sinatra, Tony Bennett, Marlene Dietrich, and Hildegard Knef (more about her below). An example is the Botho Lucas Chor (which had a sort of Ray Conniff choral sound). They recorded a few LPs by Capitol Records of classic Evergreens in German: "In meinen Träumen" ("Out of my Dreams") and "Du kamst als zauberhafter Frühling" ("All the Things You Are").
Hildegard Knef (1925-2002) has been called "the German answer to Kim Novak" and "the thinking man's Marlene Dietrich." She wrote several books and had a career that included Broadway, Hollywood (briefly) and performing as a sultry, smoky-voiced singer. One of my Knef song favorites goes: Eins und eins, das macht zwei / Drum küss und denk nicht dabei / Denn denken schadet der Illusion... (words by Knef, music by Charly Niessen). She also sings a great version of "Macky-Messer" ("Mack the Knife"). On her "Große Erfolge" CD, she also produces a wonderful version of Cole Porter's "I Get a Kick Out of You" ("Nichts haut mich um - aber du") and "Let's Do It" ("Sei mal verliebt"). See our Hildegard Knef page for more lyrics and information about her.
In closing, we need to at least mention a couple of famous German instrumentalists. They almost always worked without words, but Bert Kaempfert and the James Last Band (real name: Hans Last) offered a sound that crossed the Atlantic and produced a few hits outside of Germany. Frank Sinatra's huge hit "Strangers in the Night" was originally a German song composed by Bert Kaempfert.