Niki & The Dove – DJ, Ease My Mind has been playing on repeat in my head since I heard it when I walked into a Berlin clothes shop last week. I first heard the song when it featured in the BBC Sound of 2012 list but hadn’t thought of it since.
This unofficial video (the official video won’t play in Germany because of GEMA) features the acrobatics of Mouvance – trapeze artists Helen Turcotte and Luc Martin – which really matches the mood of the track for me.
“I loved Berlin. I loved the wall and the insanity of the place. The communists looked in on the circus atmosphere of West Berlin, which never went to sleep, and that would be their impression of the West.”
Thanks to Gilly for sending me a link to this great video of Thierry Noir in Berlin in 1985 (including footage of him painting the Berlin Wall along the Bethaniendamm in Kreuzberg with Christophe Bouchet) that features the song.
Thierry Noir is a French Street Artist whose work features at the East Side Gallery next to a section removed by developers in a move that inspired protests and brought David Hasselhoff back to Berlin.
Holidays in the Sun is the opening track on the Sex Pistols only studio album Never Mind The Bollocks, Here’s The Sex Pistols.
It won’t have escaped anyone’s attention in Berlin that what may have seemed like an endless winter could finally be over. Temperatures have leapt from single digits to nudge the Mercury at 20ºC so it seemed appropriate then that the second instalment in my Berlin Songs series should be Peter Fox – Schwarz zu Blau.
I’m a Berlin enthusiast so I will love the city come rain or shine but it’s so much easier to love when the sun is out. As soon as temperatures climbed into double figures Berliners sat outside cafés and bars and there was a buzz about the place again. The seemingly solar-powered beautiful people emerged from their winter hibernations and the streets rang with the sound of bicycle bells.
Schwarz zu Blau tells the story of a man noticing some of Berlin’s less pleasant aspects as he drunkenly stumbles out of a club at 5:30 in the morning and walks home as the city changes from black to blue.
Despite the ugliness he has noted though, his true feelings for the city emerge in the last lines:
Doch die Sonne geht gerade auf
Und ich weiß, ob ich will oder nicht
dass ich dich zum Atmen brauch (brauch, brauch, brauch…)
Which with my poor German skills I would translate as:
But the sun is just rising
And I know, whether I like it or not
That I need you to breathe (need, need, need…)
Peter Fox is a member of the successful Berlin band Seeed but Schwarz zu Blau is taken from his 2007 solo album Stadtaffe (English translation – Urban Ape).
Danny Robins’s programme for BBC Radio 6 Music’s Easter Weekend celebration ofDavid Bowie is called Bowie and Beyond: A Music Fan’s Guide to Berlin but he goes all the way back to the Weimar era in his quest to understand why Berlin has made such a significant contribution to music.
This is about more than music though. In this one hour radio documentary Robins also looks at the social and economic factors that shaped the city’s history.
Travelling to Berlin, through interviews with artists and producers, he tries to find out if Berlin attracts a certain kind of musician or if the city affects the music that those who are drawn to it create.
The usual suspects get airtime – David Bowie, Iggy Pop, Depeche Mode and U2 – but there is also an attempt to see beyond these artists to the contribution of seminal German bands like Die Toten Hosen and new artists such as Prinz Pi and Berlin-based Canadian, Peaches.
I’ve been thinking about posting Berlin Songs for a while now and hearing Robots In Disguise – I Live In Berlin last night has prompted me to get on and do it.
The songs may be about Berlin, from Berlin artists, recorded in Berlin or in some other way associated with Berlin. I have a pretty long list already thanks to Bine but if you have any favourites let me know in the comments.
According to the bio on their website:
ROBOTS IN DISGUISE are fronted by DEE PLUME (guitar and vocals) and SUE DENIM (bass and vocals). Part riot grrl princesses, part monsters of DIY musical mayhem, this maverick electro-indie-rock-dance duo has a reputation for fashion-forward style and energetic shows where Dee’s guitar and Sue’s grooving bass lines dance over chunky electronic beats and tell-it-like-it-is lyrics.
Take another look at their names and you’ll see that the pair are no strangers to the nuances of comedy. The eagle-eyed amongst you might recognise Robots In Disguise as The Electro Girls and The Goth Girls in The Mighty Boosh.
I Live In Berlin is taken from the third Robots In Disguise studio album, We’re In The Music Biz.
The refrain from Die Toten Hosen – “Tage wie diese” has been my Ohrwurm for days, though I found out on the weekend that I had completely the wrong lyrics in mind.
This was one of the songs that was played at Schmankerl-Hüttn and has stuck with me after it closed.
The video mixes live footage and studio shots of the band, with a few shots from Berlin thrown in for good measure – for instance, The Berlin Holi Open Air features a fair bit.
The name of the band ‘Die Toten Hosen’ literally translated is the ‘The Dead Trousers’ – a German term used to describe a person or an event as ‘boring’, it can also mean ‘nothing going on’ and is therefore used as a slang term for ‘impotent’.
Tote Hose is just one of many German terms that has been explained on Twitter with #dailydeutsch – a hashtag created by the folks over at überlin to help people learn German.
Today’s Ohrwurm is David Hasselhoff – Looking For Freedom, which seems appropriate on a day when the people of Berlin are again protesting at the wall.
David Hasselhoff singing on top of the Berlin Wall, with the Brandenburg Gate as a backdrop, on New Year’s Eve 1989 came at a time when people were celebrating the fall of the wall.
In fact, according to this BBC article, the Hoff is disappointed that his role in uniting the people of East and West Germany is not more widely acknowledged.
My friend Gilly and I recently discussed the Hoff’s contribution to Berlin and the possibility of a street being named after him. Hasselhoffstrasse anyone? Or maybe the Hackesche Höfe could become the Hassel Höfe?
Today, Berliners will gather at the East Side Gallery to protest against the removal of a section of the wall to build a block of luxury flats. The East Side Gallery is a 1.3km stretch of the wall on Mühlerstrasse near the Spree covered in murals by international artists, as an “international memorial for freedom”.
It seems perverse that such a symbol could be torn down, especially in a city that has so many empty and abandoned buildings.