The track 'Vergehen' was recorded in just an hour at Lol Cooper's Cavalier studios in Stockport during 1984. The two other songs I spent hours rehearsing and recording were later ditched, as 'Vergehen' was better.
Simple, but effective, in an electronicky, Germanicky sort of way: Krafwerk-esque, with just three bass notes on the synthesiser, an echoey trumpety bit played on the tinny Casio keyboard, and a psychotic solo which I coaxed out of an electric guitar, I think it was my old Hofner, sold to me for £11 by my school Xaverian College mate Mark Linehan.
I had scribbled the German lyrics on the way to Lol's studio. Only after the track had been recorded, mixed, mastered and tapes duplicated, did I find out from my friend Andrea, the German assistant, that I'd made a grammatical error - In the chorus I'd used a 'hat' instead of an 'ist'. She said it didn't really matter but I had to grit my teeth. The sound wasn't brilliant. This was just a demo tape. I had copies made but only sent a few off. By the mid-80s I'd moved on from music and forgotten all about about my recordings.
And then in 2004 when I was clearing out my mother's flat, I found a box of black cassettes in clear boxes with no labels, played one and vowed then and there to record it again, along with the other song on the tape 'Berlin Berlin'. I wanted to try and achieve a better sound quality, correct that error in the German lyrics and also write a set of English lyrics.
I went to Vienna to stay with my friends Rick and Isabella Turner. Rick had previously had a studio in Manchester and after moving to Vienna, set up the studio in their apartment.
After five days intensive work, the 2005 version of 'Vergehen', English version 'In Silence', was the result, along with a new version of 'Berlin Berlin'.
Coming up with the English lyrics presented a challenge, but I surprised myself by crafting what I think is an interesting set of words. Not perfect, and with some very obscure references, but coherent and in synch with the music.
"In the eyes of the people kaleidoscope idols and towers
And we're buying a future of lies and insatiable powers
As in the German version, the first verse alludes to the 1920s, with images influenced by early cinema, including Fritz Lang's film Metropolis, and movies starring screen goddesses such as Marlene Dietrich and Louise Brooks. The theme of this verse was the way people were dazzled first by the movies, then by the rise of totalitarian regimes.
The line 'Did we not see the wrong inside us?' asks the question: Why did people in Germany fail to see the evil that would later be unleashed?
'Prepare to end this age in silence" is a warning of how things would end in 1945, Germany devastated and as correspondents reported, a silent wasteland.
The second verse repeats the themes of the first, but has a double meaning and contains references to pop songs and rock bands! What's all that about, people may ask?
'And we're building a stairway to underground doorways and caverns
Here are references to Led Zeppelln, the Velvet Underground, the Doors and the Beatles. There's another Beatles reference in the first verse. Did anyone manage to spot it?
For Germany in the 1930s, the stairway led not upwards to glorious victory, but downwards into underground air raid shelters and ultimately to the bunker in Berlin where the adventure would end in suicide and defeat.
And instead of a future blue-eyed, blonde-haired utopia, what emerged after the war was rock 'n' roll, and other forms of popular music arising from the African American experience. This music, not any totalitarian utopia, became the dominant political cultural force of the post war years in western Europe and North America. What would Herr H have thought?
Phew, you've managed to read this far! Congratulations! If you'd like to find out more, I can provide complete MP3 versions of the song in English and German, as well as the original 1984 hissy German version, plus a full lyric sheet with an explanation of the words.
Be the first to contact!
And here are a couple of questions to ponder:
A) Is the hissy, but spontaneous 1984 version better than the more professional-sounding 2005 version? (1984 version in preparation
B) Can you spot another reference to a song by a famous soul artist in the 2005 English version?
I am promoting the song 'In Silence ' / 'Vergehen' for use in film, tv or advertising, along with my other composition Berlin Berlin.