Had Frank Sinatra lived in the German capital, we would probably be singing “Berlin, Berlin” at karaoke nights. Nothing against wonderful New York, but my city doesn’t sleep either – for musicians of all genres.
Depeche Mode guitarist and songwriter Martin Gore ironically answered he couldn’t really remember the 80s, when asked about his presumable crazy escapades on Ku’damm Boulevard. It was during the press conference in October 2008, when – out of all the places in the world – the band chose Berlin to announce the following “Tour of the Universe.”
I took the picture above during the “Delta Machine” concert. DM chose to give Berlin ‘a tour of the world’: the background video for “Halo” was shot in the German capital.
It must have been fun for Gore to live in the western Charlottenburg district, as the guys keep coming back. And Berlin didn’t do so bad at inspiring Gore write a few of the band’s monumental songs, recorded on the album “Some Great Reward,” at the city’s Hansa Tonstudio.
Depeche Mode members are by far not the only musicians to call this city their home and muse. Berlin has inspired music and lyrics and even full soundtracks over the years, and it definitely made a turning point in a few notable punk and rock careers.
Heroes, not only ‘for one day’
Berlin serving as an urban magnet for artists is not at all a new phenomenon. Twenty years ago, the whole world was watching the crowds at the Brandenburg Gate, the fall of the Wall and the German reunification. So did the Irishmen of U2, who arrived in the city in search of inspiration. “Achtung Baby,” one of the greatest U2 albums was partly produced here.
Two decades later, fans could hear the chorus of “One” out of the same Hansa Tonstudio. The guys returned to Berlin in 2011, to shoot a new video and re-edit the legendary hit for the 20-year anniversary and a re-release of “Achtung Baby.”
When asked how it feels being back again, Bono told a fan in Kreuzberg district,”Berlin? I love it. Forever.”
A lot of love lyrics have been put on paper in Berlin’s cafes and bars. One of David Bowie’s best songs, “Heroes,” is about two lovers who meet at the Berlin Wall. The whole record “Heroes,” which was released in 1977, was produced during Bowie’s stay in West Berlin, together with Iggy Pop.
Three and a half decades later, in 2013, Bowie dedicated the first single of his 24th studio album, “The Next Day”, to the city he had previously found so much inspiration in. The lyrics of “Where Are We Now” make a comparison between Berlin after the fall of the Wall and Berlin nowadays, according to the cover’s graphic designer, Jonathan Barnbrook.
“I can’t express the feeling of freedom I had there,” Bowie said in an interview on the Berlin years, talking about afternoons at Wannsee and car rides through Eastern Germany. Iggy Pop’s debut album “The Idiot” was also recorded at Hansa, in collaboration with Bowie.
It’s in the air
Ampelmann, a souvenir store in the German capital, sells a marketing CD, titled “Berlin- Soundtrack of the City.” But as far as I know, no one has ever thought of putting together songs inspired by Berlin itself – by this crazy concoction, this mixture of past and future.
I can think of Mick Jagger’s “Streets of Berlin,” Cohen’s “First We Take Manhattan” (Then We Take Berlin),” I can also think of Robbie Williams’ “Berliner Star” and the Ramones’ “Born to Die in Berlin.” Even the air of Berlin has been made famous by composer Paul Linke, with his “Berliner Luft” piece, written way back in 1899.
Whether in the air, on the streets, or in the symbol of an old Trabant car, it’s magic. They have been dragged into it. It’s Berlin, it’s one but still never the same.
Previously published on http://www.dw.com/english
A very beautiful tale written by fotoeins.com. Berlin with its bohemian breeze is part of the story. And that makes any fiction or reality worth reading 😉 Go to their website for a bunch of interesting posts.
The first weekend begins Friday, August 9, 2013, in the German capital city of Berlin.
To the unmistakable sounds of low rumble hustle of traffic and the happy chirps and tweets of birds. That’s strange, because I’m asleep; aren’t I? It’s much better if I’m not, a warm and gentle possibility in the spotlight of my mind.
My eyes struggle to open, brilliant morning light streaming through the open balcony windows and past the billowing room-high drapes. I pad slowly to the source of the light, and part the drapes to see what’s outside. I’m on the 5th-floor apartment of an “Alt Bau” in the city’s Westend. The apartment’s windows face north which means plenty of summer morning light.
I open the bedroom door. She smiles at me, her gaze warm and alive as a summer breeze. “Good morning.”
From that August weekend, I’ve kept a single promise to let her know I’m thinking about her. I’ve sent a text-message every single weekend without fail. Except for one weekend about a year ago when I missed my schedule, and she promptly sent an e-mail asking – no, demanding to know – if things were all right, if I was all right. There’s busy and there’s her kind of busy, and I understand all of it. Her urgent message strikes something solid, commencing the melt for the first time in a very long time.
On December 9, 2015, she asks me to stop.
Over dinner, I ask if she’s still receiving my texts this entire time. She smiles, then laughs nervously. She can’t look at me in the eyes. She says she feels “guilty,” and that is, as they say, that. A 5000-mile candle I’ve kept alive is extinguished. Naturally, I fill in the rest of the blanks with ease: for not answering, for not writing enough, for not feeling the same way I do.
She doesn’t need to say any of it. She braves a glance once again in my direction, and the answer is as clear as the beautiful sparkle I saw in her crystal blue eyes one summer weekend.
“Are you going to miss them, my texts?”
She shrugs. “I will.” Her uncertain body language tells a slightly different version of what’s coming out of her mouth.
I take a deep breath. “Okay, I’ll stop. I’ll continue texting you to the new year. But from that point on, I promise I’ll stop.”
Everything begins and ends. A span of 875 days; 2 years, 4 months, and 23 days. 21,000 hours, 1.26 million minutes, 75.6 million seconds. 125 weekends.
“Schöne Hauptstadt, Die lieb’ ich …” I took off those rose-covered glasses a long time ago. And now I’m tied to another loss and wound to go on top of the scar tissue. Bittersweet as a synonym with understatement, my name spat as a cheap one-line joke.
There’s delicious irony, too. As much as I favour the written letter over the SMS- or texted-message, I am accustomed to slow passages I put down on pieces of lined paper, as well as the rapidity of electronic access and contact.
And on the first Friday of the year, the 1st of January, I send a final text message, wishing her a good weekend, all the best in the new year, and that I love her. Should it mean anything of worth or value.
And like the wisp of a thought evaporating in the aether, a pulse of ones and zeros marches across the Atlantic, bringing to a quiet end a string of 125 consecutive weekends.
Stubborn mule, hopeless romantic, a goddamn fool: no defense against what counts as a universal human experience. I’m bone tired, faced with another conclusion that’s been staring at me for a long time: every day there’s a little less remaining, until there’s no one left.
Someone says: “Pick yourself back up, be a man, and try again, for fuck’s sake.” In a blind rage, I swipe at it and revel in the gurgling and choking, until the voice is shut down for good. That’s when I realize my crimson puddle is staring at me in the mirror.
A noise rouses me from hazy slumber. I open my eyes to see her watching me. She’s in my arms, her head tucked into my shoulder, as easy and natural as two people can fit. It’s 7 in the morning, but the skies won’t be light for another hour.
“I have to go,” I tell her.
She makes a sound of irritation. “Do you have to?”
Promises are made, goodbyes are said, and there’s 8000 kilometers to cover. Stepping out of her building, I stare up into the formless grey to the light tickle of melting flakes. The calm of a winter snowfall begins, as I slip beneath the blanket of silence into a long journey home, sustained by the memory of her gentle voice.
And here, it’s best left to you to decide whether the unspoken layers of truth are more painful or stranger than the alternative, or whether all of this is in actuality a fanciful piece of fiction.
The top (featured) image of Berlin in low light with the silhouettes of the Oberbaumbrücke Bridge and the TV Tower in the distance is by Sylla on Pixabay with a CC0 license. The second image of a Berlin subway station is from Life of Pix and Pexels with a CC0 license. This post appears on Fotoeins Fotopress at fotoeins.com as http://wp.me/p1BIdT-7wo.
Sitting in the sun, reading a book? Something we should bring to your attention again, now that summer is approaching 🙂
Exchange a good read with the world in Berlin!
Should you take a stroll in Prenzlauer Berg district in Berlin (and you definitely should!), look for the “Book Forest” at the junction Kolwitzstraße / Sredzkistraße. It’s a public bookcase made of fallen tree trunks, where you can always find a good read for your next coffee break. It’s for free.
BAUFACHFRAU came up with this project in 2006. It was intended as a temporary idea to make free books available to the public, but people simply loved it so much, that you can still find it nowadays. Of course you can also place a book there yourself and even track its journey on Bookcrossing.
Who knows which continent your newly found book is coming from:-)