bessie von brühl – the comtess sings the blues



bessie von brühl – a comtess, indeed. originally from the south of germany, she lived in quite some places, most important in munich, in vienna, and now (i think) in the emmental in switzerland. i met her through my then lover, a good friend of hers. yes, she talks a lot, she used to drink a lot (alcohol seemed to evaporate around her), and laugh a lot. and yes, she’s quite the drama queen. i guess she rather comes from the breed of artists that want to experience something themselves for their art – to a degree one could draw comparisons to the wild time of gianna nannini – or many an artist, for that matter. and did she experience things – she could keep you up all night with her stories. some funny, some sad, some hilarious and some rather lewd ones. yes, she was the one introducing me to francois villon.

the lady not only sings and plays the piano, she also writes prosa, and cookbooks, seemingly, paints and draws and organized at the time the erotic weeks in vienna. i did go out with her and her then husband (whom she despises these days – i found him then in an interesting way quite seducing. and to my amusement i found out that he still wears his trademark glasses. interesting to note also that he was the first artist i bought a work of art from – just why did he not become famous yet?) when i was in vienna at the time – pfuuh… quite an experience. but hey, it was fun. sometimes in a twisted way… i witnessed at that stay also a concert of hers in front of a rather disinterested yuppie-crowd – and bessie got pissed on red wine mixed with cola (they do that there, yes) and started insulting the public in between the songs. quite funny – and quite scary. i’ve seen her live a couple of times – usually, with amiable public, her concerts were a lot of fun – bessie singing her songs and telling 1001 story – well, she definitly lived the blues. stories of her grandmother being surprised that black americans do not have violet sperm (i kid you not), stories of her working in a brothel as a lesbian prostitute (hm, the lesbian part was not always included in the story, though), stories of her mean ex-husband cheating on pimps (i heard some other side to that story, but then i guess that’s a touchy subject) and in general having quite some more tales of the lowlife. most charming.

so you see – she does stand somehow in the tradition of francois villon – and also composed a song with one of his ballads for lyrics.

i totally lost contact with her – well, i lost contact with my former lover, to be more precise. but i heard that she moved to the peace of switzerland (escaping that mean husband – but then U told me another story – not less scary) and seems to still live there.

at the moment there seems to be no recording of hers available – but i do have a real schmankerl for you. a couple of songs recorded live circa 1989 in switzerland (lucerne?) for a promotional cd, if i remember correctly. i taped this at the time – and digitised the tape now for your pleasure.

so here you get bessie von brühl – live, just her with a piano. six songs in german and english. the tracklist is as follows – be aware that the song titles have been partly invented by me:

1. mona lisa
2. the party is over now
3. prinzessin auf dem mond
4. verehrt und angespien
5. i tried to write a love song
6. good night jesus

unfortunately these are just a handful of songs, not a concert in its integrity. so the usual chatting and storytelling is missing. but you can hear her chat on this rather recent podcast from summer 2006 – in german. this might give you an idea of her persona…

and here the link to the very nice website of the photographer hans peter muff who took the picture of her i put at the beginning of this post.



digging deep i came up with the original tape, the official release (well, i somewhat seem to remember that it was for promotional purposes only) of gräfin bessie von brühl – live. and this time you get even 4 songs more. recorded at the boa-halle, lucerne, on 27.12.1990. ripped from tape@224, the coverscans are included. and the (this time correct) tracklisting is as follows:

1. die ballade von den vogelfreien
2. no comtesse
3. dying swans
4. subways
5. good nite jesus
6. ich bin mona lisa
7. black widow
8. party is over now
9. susan
10. prinzessin auf dem mond


and yeah, digging deep sometimes brings up even more, even older things: i also found a tape with 7 songs that must have been recorded some time in the 1980s: beside her voice and the piano we also hear a really cheap drum machine and YEAH! these now again super-cool (and badly emulated) cheap 80’s synth sounds on some songs. very charming and suddenly terribly hip again, i think. and so authentic.

also ripped from tape – but neither cover nor tracklist (the title is NOT naturakt – that’s another band and another story alltogether) i nevertheless am very proud to be able to make this available to you, dear reader! get it here.


BONUS: back in the days, bessie brühl actually toured and recorded some songs with austrian, hm, fictious / real artist ostbahn kurti (it’s kind of complicated – i might make a post about him some time – or some reader could inform us accordingly). one of these songs was rendevouz. here the live version, featuring bessie brühl. and yes, it is a springsteen cover…

now i only hope that her music has a renaissance…

Update II: as i have been asked various times: i do not know how to contact her. she used to write articles for a free newspaper in lucerne, switzerland a while ago and i once heard that she lives somewhere on the countryside between lucerne and berne… but then that is also quite a while ago…

8 Responses to “bessie von brühl – the comtess sings the blues”

  1. Willie Duncan Says:

    Hi,in the late 70ies Bessie was the lead singer in our band BUZZARD based just outside Regensburg,we lost touch after Bessie had a nervous breakdown at a gig in the Rigan Club in Munich,sadly we never saw her again but we ve always had a thought for her ,hoping all was well,I do have a few Demos of Bessie from back then,if needed i could pass them on
    so bessie all the best ,and try and look after yourself

  2. sunbathinglizard Says:

    hi willie,
    i actually sent you an email – should you not have received it: yes, i am of course interested! and thank your for sharing – it is very interesting to hear more about bessie’s story (and nervous breakdown at a gig sounds very much like her).

  3. marderh Says:

    could please re-up the Bessie (von) Brühl stuff?
    Please please

    thanks in advance!

  4. fan Says:

    I love the sound of the german countess, she still plays music and composes new stuff. I heard that a new CD will come out in 2010.

  5. sunbathinglizard Says:

    Hi fan,
    interesting to hear – so i am curious as to where you heard this and if you might have some additional information?
    let me know!

  6. fan Says:

    I am in contact with her. She writes for a swiss magazine. She sent me new stuff an told that I new CD is in the pipe.

  7. sunbathinglizard Says:

    i will have my eyes / ears open… thanks for the info.

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