All good things must come to end. I swear to you that this is the last Carneval post, but it’s a good one: Carneval music! There are two types of music to discuss here: Carneval Lieder, songs, and Schlager, hits.
1. Carneval Lieder
I’ll bet that for many of you, “German music” brings to mind oompah and polka music. This is, after all, what tourists hear at Oktoberfest, and the beer-drinking songs our older relatives brought back with them after World War II sound like this too. (You know: “In heaven, there is no beer/That’s why we drink it here.”) In general, this description isn’t accurate, but for the Carneval Lieder, this description is dead on. If you think about, Oktoberfest and Carneval are basically both festivals, and festivals call for folk music. A Google search reveals that each of the big Carneval cities has its own songs, including Damme. For a long time, you only heard the Damme songs live. Then, in 1995, Eckhardt Raska recorded an album of Damme Carneval Lieder entitled “Helau Festaubend.” The late Raska recorded a second album, “So klint’s von überall,” in 1997. In 2005, the Narrenblech recorded a third album in Raska’s honor called “Stimmung Dammensia.” Unfortunately, the second album is not longer in print, but the first and third are available for purchase at the Stadtmuseum for 6 Euro and 9,95 Euro, respectively.
The most well-known of the Dammer Carnvel Lieder seems to be “In Damme ist heut’ Carneval.” When everyone was at my house on Saturday night, we kept trying to sing it, but we all only knew one line. Little did we know that the lyrics were available online! I would love to share this song with you, dear reader, but, alas, I’ve only been able to find this remix of the song. Give it a listen, but do yourself a favor and skip the first minute. Trust me.
The other German musical genre that could be heard in every tent and bar is Schlager, hits. Germans of all ages would be singing along and dancing. My friends explained the genre to me as “folk songs that everyone knows.” “Do you have something like this in the US? Something that everyone knows and they play at weddings?” You mean ‘Livin’ on a Prayer!’ I thought to myself. Not quite.
If you watch German television on the weekends, around 8 pm, you can see these concerts with sort of cheesy, middle-aged musicians playing in huge auditoriums. There’s often a screen as the stage background with Alpine scenery, woods, fields or other Heimat-type themes. The audience grins from ear to ear while singing and clapping along. (Always on the downbeat.) This is Schlager. These are old songs that everyone knows, played again and again by different artists. Using that criteria, I’ve been trying to think of an American genre to compare too, at least in terms of the role it plays. I’ve narrowed it down to jazz standards or roots/bluegrass music. If any German[ic] readers can offer more of an explanation about this genre, I would welcome the expertise.
If you’re dying to get to know some German Schlager so you can sing along and impress your friends, here’s my recommended starter playlist:
- Ireen Sheer – Heut’ Abend hab’ ich Kopfweh
- Felix de Luxe – Taxi nach Paris
- Micki Krause – Schatzi schenk’ mir ein Foto
- Klaus Lage – 1000 Mal berührt
Finally, it wouldn’t be a party in Germany if you didn’t these last two pop songs at least 15 times. I’m not kidding.
And for the last time: Damme Helau! Damme Helau! Damme Helau!