Taking An Imaginary Journey Back to My Original Home

A collage of music and places from Germany

The idea for this post came to me over the weekend when I found myself listening to my long-time favorite German rock band Niedeckens BAP, previously simply known as BAP. Suddenly, I longed to be back in Germany, the country where I was born and lived for the first 27 years of my life. Not for good, but just for a visit, which feels long overdue!

Images of key places started popping up before my eyes: My town of birth Heidelberg (image below), the small village in the countryside close to Bonn where I grew up, the cities of Bonn (second image from right in the lower row of the collage on top of the post) and Cologne (left image in collage), as well as the town of Tübingen (right image in lower row of collage) where I did my graduate studies, to name a few.

Heidelberg

I’ve now lived permanently in the U.S. for close to 25 years, almost as long as I lived in Germany – hard to believe! There’s no question the States have become my home. While over the more recent past I’ve witnessed things I never thought could happen in this country, I’m firmly rooted here.

I never really felt homesick since I left Germany in 1993. After all, I’ve been back many times, once every other year on average, to visit my parents and other family. I also still have friends there from high school and university. Returning to Germany has always been important. But my last visit dates back to the fall of 2019, and it’s currently unclear whether I’ll be able to go back this year. This sucks!

Former house of my parents (left) close to the city of Bonn in the village of Buschhoven (right) where I grew up

So, yes, I miss visiting good ole Germany. My family and friends. The above mentioned places. The food. And, I know it sounds like a cliché, the beer – it’s the best I’ve ever tasted. Note I’m not saying it’s the best in the world, though it probably is – sorry, Budweiser or Miller! 🙂

This brings me to German rock and pop music performed in the German language. The above mentioned BAP, a band from Cologne, were the first Deutsch Rock I started to explore more deeply in the early ’80s. I turned to many other German acts thereafter. Fortunately, I still got access to plenty of their music, which is very reassuring! Here’s is a small selection.

Wolf Maahn/Kannst Du Sehen

Let’s kick things off with Kannst Du Sehen (can you see), a groovy tune by Wolf Maahn from his 2010 studio album Vereinigte Staaten (United States). Maahn, who was born in Berlin in 1955 and grew up in Munich, has been a professional music artist since the late ’70s. After recording two English language albums with Food Band, he launched his solo career in 1982, mostly singing in German ever since. Two years later, his great breakthrough album Irgendwo in Deutschland (somewhere in Germany) appeared. Maahn remains active to this day and has released 15 studio albums, as well as various live records and compilations. If you’d like to know more about him, you can check out this previous post.

Spider Murphy Gang/Schickeria

Spider Murphy Gang, formed in Munich in 1977, became known for mostly ’50s rock & roll and other retro style songs performed in Bavarian dialect. I think there’s just something about dialects. They can add a certain charm to a song. Country rocker Schickeria (in crowd) is the opener of Spider Murphy Gang’s third studio album Dolce Vita from 1981, which greatly expanded their popularity in Germany beyond Bavaria. BTW, the band’s name comes from Spider Murphy, the guy playing the tenor saxophone in the Leiber-Stoller classic Jailhouse Rock that first became a hit for Elvis Presley in 1957. After nearly 45 years, Spider Murphy Gang rock on with lead vocalist and bassist Günther Sigl and guitarist Barny Murphy remaining as original members in the current eight-piece line-up. I’ve never been to one of their shows, though I’d love to see them some day. Their music is quite fun!

Marius Müller-Westernhagen/Schweigen Ist Feige

If you count his start as a 14-year-old actor in 1962 before turning to music in the second half of the ’60s, Marius Müller-Westernhagen, or just Westernhagen, has been active for nearly 60 years. After meager beginnings his music career took off in 1978 with his fourth studio album Mit Pfefferminz Bin Ich Dein Prinz (with peppermint I’m your prince). Westernhagen whose catalog includes 19 studio albums, four live records and various compilations is one of Germany’s most successful music artists. Here’s Schweigen Ist Feige (remaining silent is cowardice), a Stonesey rocker from Affentheater (monkey business), Westernhagen’s 14th studio release that appeared in 1994.

Udo Lindenberg/Ich Zieh’ Meinen Hut

Udo Lindenberg, who is turning 75 years later this month, is another German rock and pop institution. Already as a 15-year-old, he performed in bars in the West German town of Düsseldorf, playing the drums. After relocating to the northern city of Hamburg in the late ’60s and stints with folk rock band City Preachers and jazz rock outfit Free Orbit, which he co-founded, Lindenberg launched his solo career in 1971, focused on writing and singing his own songs in German. He has released more than 30 studio and numerous other albums to date. You can read more about him here. Following is Ich Zieh’ Meinen Hut (I tip my hat), the opener of Stark Wie Zwei (strong like two), a triumphant comeback album for Lindenberg from 2008.

Herbert Grönemeyer/Was Soll Das?

Pop music is Herbert Grönemeyer’s second act. The versatile artist, who was born on April 12, 1956 in Göttingen, first came to prominence as an actor. He gained some international attention after his role in the acclaimed 1981 World War II motion picture Das Boot. His eponymous studio debut Grönemeyer from 1979 went unnoticed. Things changed dramatically in 1984 with his fifth studio release 4630 Bochum (name and then-zip code of a West German city). It became Grönemeyer’s first no. 1 record in Germany, a chart position he incredibly has been able to achieve for each of his 10 albums that have since come out! Here’s Was Soll Das? (what’s that supposed to mean), the first track from Grönemeyer’s seventh studio album Ö that appeared in 1988.

Niedeckens BAP/Mittlerweile Josephine

Of course, this post wouldn’t be complete without Niedeckens BAP. If you’ve followed my blog for some time, the name may sound familiar. The band around singer-songwriter Wolfgang Niedecken, which used to be known as BAP for most of their career, was founded in Cologne in 1976. Not surprisingly, there have been many line-up changes over the decades. For the past six years, the band essentially has been a solo project for Niedecken, the only remaining original member. The other constant is Niedeckens BAP continue to perform their songs in Kölsch, the regional dialect spoken in the area of Cologne. You can read more about the band here. Following is Mittlerweile Josephine (now Josephine) from their most recent studio album Alles Fliesst (everything is groovy) released in September 2020. It was this beautiful ballad Niedecken wrote for his daughter, which triggered this post.

Sources: Wikipedia; YouTube

16 thoughts on “Taking An Imaginary Journey Back to My Original Home”

  1. I only have visited two of the German cities you mentioned: Cologne and Heidelberg. Cologne is a teenager-at-school-trauma and I swore never travelling back to Cologne. I still do. Heidelberg is a very beautiful town.

    Well maybe I have the “luck” to live in Austria only but I still don’t know when I can travel again to see my parents. Until I’m vaccinated or I do all the tests, quarantine etc.? I’m happy that my parents already got their first doses.

    May I ask for the reason why you moved to the United States?

    I like the music of Spider Murphy Gang, too, and I also didn’t manage to see the guys live. Groenemeyer is my favourite in your list.
    Due to my stay in the neighbor country I’m a little bit updated about German musicians. From the “newer” ones I like Thees Uhlmann, Kettcar and AnnenMayKantereit.

    Greetings from a summer-like Vienna!

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Thanks for your comment. And so sorry you didn’t have a good experience in Cologne. I always enjoy going back there, especially to the traditional restaurant and brewery “Früh“ where they serve Früh Kölsch and great food!

      My knowledge of German rock definitely is dated, though I’m happy to report I’ve heard of Kettcar.

      As for the U.S., initially I came here as an exchange student to get another graduate degree. My plan was to return to Germany thereafter. Then I met my future wife…😀

      Liked by 1 person

      1. I like German beer, but here in Austria I really don’t miss it because I’m living in a district of Vienna in which there’s a brewery called “Ottakringer”. My favorite is “Stiegl” which comes from Salzburg. On my 35th birthday I visited the brewery – a wonderful experience.

        Great that you’re familiar to Kettcar. I love the band, especially their lyrics. (And I had the luck to see them live.)

        Nice story. I came to Austria following my former boyfriend. We aren’t together anymore (it’s already 14 years ago) but I’m thankful for the time.

        Liked by 1 person

  2. I love the architecture there from what I’ve seen. They seem to appreciate older buildings and not immediately tear them down like America does… The music sounds great…the language barrier was a little hard to get by but the more I listened the more I liked it.

    I have heard about the beer from friends that went over there…I would LOVE to try it.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. While Germany is tiny, especially compared to the U.S., there are many beautiful old towns there. In my completely unbiased opinion, I think it’s definitely worthwhile visiting!😀

      I can imagine listening to music sung in another language is unusual. In my case, I actually started listening to English music long before I could understand a word.

      I always liked the sound of it. It didn’t bother me much I couldn’t understand the lyrics. I’ve always paid much more attention to the music. I guess I still oftentimes do.

      Liked by 1 person

      1. My son may be visiting Germany in July if he is able to.

        After a while I was getting used to it… on something’s I do listen more to the music unless it is Bob Dylan or someone like that.

        Liked by 1 person

  3. I visited Germany once, in late May-June 1978, and I loved it. I went to visit a German friend I’d met in California, where I lived and he was on a student visa. He lived in Heidelberg, which is a gorgeous city. We took side trips to Mannheim, Worms and the surrounding countryside. He then took me by train to Berlin, where we stayed with his sister and her boyfriend for a week. We also visited his parents in the Harz Mountains, then returned to Heidelberg. I’ve never been back, but would love to visit again.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Thanks for sharing. You covered quite a bit of territory there. And even made it to the then still divided city of Berlin!

      When I was in 11th grade, I did an excursion with my class to Berlin, which was still divided at the time. We also spent half a day in East Berlin, which I thought was quite interesting.

      Liked by 1 person

  4. Realistically, how soon do you think it will be before you can go back to visit? Also, you are right about German beer. But a fair comparison would not be to Budweiser or Miller. Those are piss. I wouldn’t drink them if they were the only booze in the house. How about Sam Adams or all those craft beers we now have here? Maybe not as good but a fairer comparison I think.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Not sure, Jim. I hope perhaps sometime in the fall. It oviously all depends on how the situation looks then.

      As for the beer, I primarily was teasing. While I generally enjoy beer, I’m certainly not an expert. That said, I do like Sam Adams!

      Like

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