Thursday, July 10, 2008

Slaughter in Pakistan, Slaughter on the Autobahn

So I'm on vacation right now, and I've found my theme song for this idyll: Hildegard Knef's 1971 classic, "Holiday Time."

There's a Wikipedia entry on Knef here, but the account of her impressive life as an actress in post-war Germany inexplicably leaves out this groovy sidenote to that career, which was actually the "B" side to a single.

The bass, bongos, piano and drums fall quickly into a deeply funky groove, and less than 9 seconds in, Knef's Teutonic voice begins to intone with aching dolor:

They came back from the moon today
One of the parachutes didn’t open

And the song just never quits being astonishing for its 4 minutes and 30 seconds -- taking in headlines ("In Munich there will be a beer festival/ They had a bank robbery/Police shot the hostage/ Olympic Games next year") and her chillingly fatalistic and mundane observations:

There are eight or ten boys standing there
Near the funicular
They’re bored
So bored, they start throwing stones
They aim close to the girls’ legs, the girls’ heads
Eight or ten boys who’ve never seen war
Healthy wealthy jet set babies
Throwing stones on the third morning
Of the Aquarian millennium

Heat, fatigue and palpable boredom have never been as musically compelling, winding inevitably to a repeated chorus that articulates Knef's hatred for these "weary, dreary holiday times." Though I think my favorite moment is her second bite at the apple of currency reports:

The dollar is climbing, the dollar is falling
Inflation, stagflation
Yes, yes, I know you know

The song can be found on the second collection of German pop psychedelia issued by Marina Records/Finetunes: THE IN-KRAUT Vol 2 - Hip Shaking Grooves Made In Germany 1967-1974. (Available here from eMusic.) The first volume also features a Knef song called "From Here On It Got Rough" -- along with a strange song by French ye-ye girl and Serge Gainsbourg protege France Gall called "Hippie Hippie." (Vol. 1 on eMusic is here.) And Marina issued a third collection less than a month ago, which I have yet to sample. (eMusic download here.)

Fortunately, YouTube has the whole song here -- though just the audio. Stay cool.

1 comment:

Whitemonkey said...

"the dollar's climbing, the dollar's falling.." gotta get this shit!