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"Geh raus nach deinem, deinem Haus..."
September 30, 2010 1:36 PM   Subscribe

The Beatles in German: "Sie liebt dich" ("She Loves You"); "Komm gib mir deine Hand" ("I Want to Hold Your Hand"); "Geh raus" (quick and dirty rendering of "Get Back"); "Mein Herz ist bei dir nur" (Tony Sheridan and the Beat Boys' version of "My Bonnie".)

Bonus: Johnny Cash sings "Wer kennt den Weg."
posted by Iridic (62 comments total) 14 users marked this as a favorite

 
Danke, Iridic. Ich hatte nie diese Lieder vor gehoren. (Did I say that right? I don't think so.)
posted by not_on_display at 1:46 PM on September 30, 2010


Ich Bin Ein Horzfaller.
posted by TheWhiteSkull at 1:47 PM on September 30, 2010 [2 favorites]


Those years playing the red light district in Hamburg, taking speed by the handful and having group sex with prostitutes... they certainly paid off for those lads, didn't they?
posted by hippybear at 1:51 PM on September 30, 2010 [6 favorites]


"Come give me your hand." Jawöhl, Mein Führer!

Why did they omit "Baby You Can Drive My Tank"?
posted by Mayor Curley at 1:52 PM on September 30, 2010


Our gift to them: The Beatles and Johnny Cash

Their gift to us: Falco and Nena

Just sayin'.
posted by Joe Beese at 2:03 PM on September 30, 2010 [2 favorites]


This is news to people? I've been listening to these Beatles songs since I was born.
posted by two lights above the sea at 2:05 PM on September 30, 2010


You are forgetting Kraftwerk
posted by rfs at 2:06 PM on September 30, 2010 [3 favorites]


Um... Falco was Austrian, not German.

The Scorpions, however...
posted by hippybear at 2:06 PM on September 30, 2010 [1 favorite]


Note that the Beatles never really spoke anything beyond pidgin German -- "Geh raus" is mostly gibberish, and the early tracks' lyrics were written out phonetically for them to sing. Other Englischer artists have a bit better command, with decidedly odder results.
posted by ricochet biscuit at 2:07 PM on September 30, 2010 [2 favorites]


"Horzfaller"? "Jawöhl"? Sheesh.

And to think that, originally, I had been looking for Kojak in a dubbed German version to add to this, but couldn't find it (I swear, it does exist). But since the Führer now has made his entry (fourth post. Must be a record), I think we leave it at a good laugh and move on. Har Har.
posted by Namlit at 2:09 PM on September 30, 2010


"geh raus" isn't really gibberish... "raus gehen" is perfectly clear German, "geh" is the imperative form of "gehen"...

Or do you mean the rest of the lyrics to the song? I haven't examined them much.
posted by hippybear at 2:09 PM on September 30, 2010


Our gift to them: The Beatles and Johnny Cash

Their gift to us: Falco and Nena

Just sayin'.


Their gift to us: Beethoven and Brahms and Bach.

Our gift to them: ...

(Actually there's a lot of good American composers, but not exactly comparable to the 3 Bs.)

Plus, Kraftwerk.
posted by kmz at 2:10 PM on September 30, 2010 [11 favorites]


I was going to claim Germany gave the world Europe, but it seems they are from Sweden, the home of neo-nineties of various sorts.
posted by filthy light thief at 2:14 PM on September 30, 2010 [1 favorite]


Yes, but they took Hasselhoff off our hands, so we're even.
posted by mr_crash_davis mark II: Jazz Odyssey at 2:14 PM on September 30, 2010 [5 favorites]


It was the Beat Brothers, not the Beat Boys.
posted by East Manitoba Regional Junior Kabaddi Champion '94 at 2:16 PM on September 30, 2010


Ich habe keine Geburtstag.
posted by wcfields at 2:23 PM on September 30, 2010 [1 favorite]


Other Englischer artists have a bit better command, with decidedly odder results.

Bowie actually released three versions of Heroes. The English version, Helden and Héros. There's an English/Deutsch mash-up that was included on the Christine F soundtrack, but oddly enough it doesn't look like anyone's put together a tri-lingual version yet.
posted by permafrost at 2:25 PM on September 30, 2010 [2 favorites]


Ich bin Auslander und spreche nicht gut Deutsch,
Ich bin Auslander und spreche nicht gut Deutsch,
Bitte langsam bitte langsam, bitte sprechen Sie doch langsam,
Ich bin Auslander und spreche nicht gut Deutsch,
posted by kmz at 2:27 PM on September 30, 2010 [2 favorites]


But since the Führer now has made his entry (fourth post. Must be a record), I think we leave it at a good laugh and move on.

For the record, I wasn't specifically referencing Hitler, although he's generally the first führer most of us think of. Given post-war British stereotypes about German authoritarianism, I thought it was funny that the song was changed from "I want to hold..." to "come give me your..." That's it. And I realize that "Komm gib mir deine Hand" is using the informal construction, but it's still funny.
posted by Mayor Curley at 2:35 PM on September 30, 2010


Hilarious, I used to sing Beatles songs in Swedish just for the laughs.
Kom igen, kom igen, kom igen, bäbis, snurra och tjut! is really funny. I guess you need to know Swedish to see the funny though...
posted by dabitch at 2:43 PM on September 30, 2010 [1 favorite]


Rapper's Deutsch. Not a straight cover, but I think they get the spirit of the original to some extent.
posted by demiurge at 2:46 PM on September 30, 2010 [1 favorite]


Always happy to see a Beatles post.

I don't understand anything about music (and not much more about language) except knowing what I like. Maybe this is a stupid question:

Why is it that songs translated between German and English (and vice versa) seem to..., well..., work, and sound OK? These Beatles songs sound fine to me, and I've enjoyed both Falco and Nena songs in both their German and English versions. It seems like to me, in a different language, the words would have different syllables, intonations, etc. and they just wouldn't fit the tune. I'm guessing you couldn't translate song lyrics from English to some random language and have it sound good. Is it because both languages are Germanic (according to this)?

Oh yeah. Helden.
posted by marxchivist at 2:47 PM on September 30, 2010


Why is it that songs translated between German and English (and vice versa) seem to..., well..., work, and sound OK?

The artists change the lyrics for the sake of meter. The general message is the same, but the line-by-line content is generally different. Fortunately, because they're closely related languages, some of the words translate literally to rhyme. For instance, in "I wanna hold your hand," the German infinitive for "understand" is "verstanden," and "hand" is, well, "Hand." So German lyrics can often be closer than in unrelated languages and still sound pleasant.

A good example of a change for meter is Nena's "99 Red Balloons," which in the original was "99 Luftballoons," which translates merely to "99 [air] balloons." They added "red" to the English title to keep the syllable count close-- "99" in German is four syllables pronounced like "noyn-und-noyn-zish" ("nine and ninety"), so the initial meter is also changed to account for that.

But you're right, it generally works pretty well.
posted by Mayor Curley at 3:10 PM on September 30, 2010 [1 favorite]


So, the main attractions of this FPP are two tracks -- the Beatles' German versions of "She Loves You" and "I Want to Hold Your Hand" -- that are not from some obscure bootleg but are on the standard, official Beatles CD Past Masters, Vol. I. Most Beatles fans presumably either own this already or have plans to buy it. It'd be like me doing a post and just saying: hey, one of my favorite obscure Beatles songs is What You're Doing from their underrated album Beatles for Sale. I mean, that's cool, but it's not really much of an FPP.
posted by John Cohen at 3:44 PM on September 30, 2010 [1 favorite]


I'm guessing you couldn't translate song lyrics from English to some random language and have it sound good.

I dunno. Disney does a pretty good job, and for modern releases they translate their songs into dozens of languages. I mean, yeah, sometimes they have to take liberties with the lyrics, but they have to do that with Germanic languages, too. This page offers a pretty sweet way to compare the lyrics of various Disney songs in different languages. YouTube is full of folks who have uploaded non-English versions of just about every Disney song imaginable, so you can hear what they sound like, too.

As an example of it being hard to get the lyrics correct, Disney somewhat infamously redid the dubbing for the German version of the Little Mermaid for the 1998 re-release (from what I can tell most Germans prefer the original). This page has a good lyrics comparison. Both versions take liberties with the original. Sometimes there's no ideal translation that still fits the music and rhyme scheme.
posted by jedicus at 3:56 PM on September 30, 2010


Duuuu!
Du allein kannst mich verstehen!

posted by joost de vries at 3:57 PM on September 30, 2010


...und du mein Schatz bleibt hier.
posted by joost de vries at 4:06 PM on September 30, 2010


But you're right, it generally works pretty well.

Yep- but what amazes me (and I know this isn't just an issue with German, but it's the language I studied in school and still love to learn about, so it's the one I'm most familiar with) is with dubbing. Case in point: I love American Dad, and in the ep where Roger admits to having multiple families, the Smiths suggest they all have lunch at "the Mall." This is translated as "das Einkaufszentrum," a WAY bigger word, and even though it's a cartoon and so dubbing doesn't pose remotely the same complication as with human's faces and mouths, I am still impressed that they could squeeze that in and make it work.

Outside of animation of course it gets way trickier. You know that part of The Ring where Rachel says to Noah, "He watched the tape"? In German it's "Er kennt das Video." This doesn't seem to capture "watched" but it does match the oral aspect of the dialog.
posted by ethnomethodologist at 4:17 PM on September 30, 2010


Why is it that songs translated between German and English (and vice versa) seem to..., well..., work, and sound OK?

For an example of it not working so well from German to English, consider 99 Luftballons (comparison here with literal translation). The translated version definitely has the same overall spirit and story, but it accomplishes it in a roundabout way and has to take some liberties.
posted by jedicus at 4:22 PM on September 30, 2010


It's actually a very good thing that the Fab Four were from Liverpool and not Düsseldorf.

"The British Invasion" carries different subtext than... well...
posted by delfin at 4:37 PM on September 30, 2010


Why is it that songs translated between German and English (and vice versa) seem to..., well..., work, and sound OK?

A good chunk of English is derived from Germanic languages, brought to the British Isles by the invading Anglo-Saxons starting in the 5th century CE.

The two languages share a lot of common words that vary only slightly in spelling and pronunciation, e.g. Vater (the 'v' is pronounced as an 'f'), Wort (word), Mutter (mother), Apfel (apple), Haus (house), Hand (hand), Freund (friend), is (ist), Finger (finger) and so on...

A great book on the history of English is "Our Magnificent Bastard Tongue: The Untold Story of English", also good in audiobook format.
posted by Davenhill at 4:50 PM on September 30, 2010


After who knows how many listens to both versions of 99 Luftballons (yes, I actually listen to Nena), it struck me that, though they tell roughly the same story it's framed very differently. The German version is itself a story (well, a song) about the balloons and the war, whereas in the English version the singer and "you" buy the balloons and set them free, causing the war. To me, the German version feels darker politically, but I do sometimes wonder if the English version is on the whole darker.

We listened to Komm gib mir deine Hand in my first semester German class. I suppose it's one of the first songs English speakers can understand in German--it's a pretty good bet they know the original song, the lyrics aren't that complicated and you can hear them clearly. Of course, MfG was the first song used in that class.
posted by hoyland at 5:03 PM on September 30, 2010


Don't forget this faboo 80s German / English dual version hit:

Peter Schilling - Major Tom
posted by hippybear at 5:42 PM on September 30, 2010


I don't understand.
posted by Nick Verstayne at 5:45 PM on September 30, 2010 [3 favorites]


"I don't understand.
posted by Nick Verstayne
"

Since nobody else will make the connection, I'll do you the favor: Eponysterical. (Enthusiasm costs extra.)
posted by pwnguin at 6:37 PM on September 30, 2010 [7 favorites]


Peter Gabriel - Schock Den Affen

Wish I still had that album.
posted by ZeusHumms at 6:37 PM on September 30, 2010 [1 favorite]


My bad, didn't realize it was linked up thread.
posted by ZeusHumms at 6:38 PM on September 30, 2010


Did someone just diss Nena? Don't make me go over there.
posted by Xezlec at 7:45 PM on September 30, 2010


Meanwhile, in France.... I give you Johnny Hallyday.
posted by gimonca at 7:53 PM on September 30, 2010 [1 favorite]


Schnappi Das Kleine Krokodil. Das Lied von Manuel. Doef - Codo. Ich bin a bayrisches Cowgirl. Geier Sturzflug - Bruttosozialprodukt.
posted by millardsarpy at 8:01 PM on September 30, 2010


Germany gave us Bony M
posted by the noob at 8:07 PM on September 30, 2010 [1 favorite]


Fixed link for Ich bin a bayriches Cowgirl. Shame I missed that for my post about German country music; it would've fit right in.
posted by jedicus at 8:18 PM on September 30, 2010


Cindy und Bert - Der Hund von Baskerville. Dschinghis Khan - Moskau. Samurai.
posted by millardsarpy at 9:04 PM on September 30, 2010 [1 favorite]


"Der Kommissar" auf Deutsch bei Falco und in English by After the Fire. "Alles klar, Herr Kommissar?"
posted by kirkaracha at 10:09 PM on September 30, 2010 [1 favorite]


At least I can figure out why the Beatles were singing in German. The Beach Boys, though?

And because it seems semi-related, a selection from Twist in der DDR, the clear Fall 2004 highlight of my library acquisitions job.
posted by Copronymus at 10:34 PM on September 30, 2010


A good chunk of English is derived from Germanic languages, brought to the British Isles by the invading Anglo-Saxons starting in the 5th century CE.

The other big chunk - perhaps 60% is French. I'm amazed on a daily basis on the amount of words from French that form the fundamentals (fr: fondamentaux) of English. What's quite amazing is the pronunciation (fr: prononciation) is so amazingly different (fr: different), we just never realize (fr: réaliser) it. So when French songs get translated, they're usually rewritten completely.


Thanks for posting the link to the book - I'll have to check that out,


* (I didn't look to see if any of these examples were loan words *from* English, so apologies)
posted by alex_skazat at 10:35 PM on September 30, 2010


Back in '64, the demand for Beatleproduct was so strong that the tiny American label (Swan) that had the rights to release "She Loves You" put out a single of "Sie Liebt Dich". It actually managed to chart #97 on Billboard.
posted by frodisaur at 10:52 PM on September 30, 2010


Unheimlisch.
posted by bardic at 11:17 PM on September 30, 2010


Germany gave us Bony M

Indeed, and the very same German that gave us Boney M also gave us Milli Vanilli, La Bouche, and this turd which somehow actually charted in the UK.
posted by Sys Rq at 11:39 PM on September 30, 2010


No references to Rammstein? Or Trio? Or Laibach?

As for English songs sounding good in German, English is a Germanic language, so I wouldn't be so surprised. In fact, some sentences can be translated word for word.
posted by readyfreddy at 11:58 PM on September 30, 2010


Leben heißt Leben… which you might remember better in its original form
posted by readyfreddy at 12:06 AM on October 1, 2010


Ich bin ein Berliner!
posted by uncanny hengeman at 1:56 AM on October 1, 2010


You are forgetting Kraftwerk

Not to mention Can, Neu! and Faust.

Even if you've never heard them, you've heard bands who've ripped their sound off to varying degrees.
posted by acb at 2:25 AM on October 1, 2010 [1 favorite]


Laibach is a band from Slovenia, now located in the NSK. They recorded the 'Let It Be' album, some of which is sung in German. Recommended.
posted by eccnineten at 2:51 AM on October 1, 2010 [1 favorite]


Beatles Bible says:

EMI's West German couterpart, Electrola Gesellschaft, persuaded the group to re-record the songs, for release as a double a-side single in February 1964. The practice of recording special versions for foreign markets was a common occurrence at the time, but the 29 January session was the only time The Beatles did so.

As noted by Ian MacDonald in Revolution In The Head, foreign-language versions of British hits subsequently fell out of favour. "The resulting promotion of the English language around the world is one of [The Beatles'] most substantial, and least documented, achievements," he wrote.

posted by minifigs at 4:17 AM on October 1, 2010


"Here Comes The Sun" in Austrian (Styrian) dialect by STS: Hier kummt die Sunn.
posted by Omnomnom at 5:46 AM on October 1, 2010


I'm partial to Dr. Strangelove's rendition of "She Loves You".
posted by usonian at 5:55 AM on October 1, 2010


Peter Gabriel - Schock Den Affen

Wish I still had that album.


He actually did two albums in German. From Wiki: Alternate versions of Peter's third and fourth albums were also released with German lyrics. Peter Gabriel 3 [melting face]consisted of basically the same recording overdubbed with new vocals, while Security was also remixed and several tracks were extended or altered in slight ways.
posted by Gungho at 6:43 AM on October 1, 2010


Hey, I play that Cindy & Bert track when I DJ!

Also, Germany gave us James Last :p
posted by jtron at 8:04 AM on October 1, 2010


Upon further reflection, Bert looks a lot like main dude from 6 Feet Under.

And did you know that the first few Peter Gabriel solo albums, as well as Pink Floyd's Animals, were designed by the dude who went on to found Coil? Blew my mind, that did.

posted by jtron at 8:32 AM on October 1, 2010


Not to mention Can, Neu! and Faust.

And Cluster ..... and Amon Düül .....

Not to mention Bowie's Low/Lodger/Station to Station period and Iggy Pop's Lust for Life/Idiot period.
posted by blucevalo at 10:07 AM on October 1, 2010


As for English songs sounding good in German, English is a Germanic language, so I wouldn't be so surprised. In fact, some sentences can be translated word for word.

Except for the significant quantity of French we've been passing off as our own for the last thousand years or so, this is true.
posted by Sys Rq at 12:49 PM on October 1, 2010


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