story of a life

this post might does more explicitly bind music back to society, to history. and yes, it’s ms. knef as an example again. actress, singer – and writer. not only of good lyrics, for me in a rather french chanson tradition then in a german tradition. which is more a feeling then based on research. but somehow the attitude is…eeer…french. whatever that means. and then there is a french connection, too. but this is for later.

bookso – words. not only for songs, but ms. knef also wrote 2 books: an autobiography for half of her life, and a book about her having cancer. the first book, der geschenkte gaul, makes for a good read. there might be some difficulties regarding the mentioning of many names not very known anymore (well, if you did your homework on the last couple of posts, then many of them are not that unfamiliar), some names known. of course marlene plays a prominent role. but in a way i did not read it as hildegard kenf’s life story, but rather a life story. it is one testimonial about growing up in a totalitarian state, of just wanting to grow up, make a career, work what you enjoy. and the dry tone it is written in makes it a good read under this perspective. it is not apologetic, rather descriptive. and it leaves enough space to find ones own point of view. rather brechtian, right…

what fascinated me in this book, and that is why i do find stories like this important, is that i think i get a little bit a feel – or at least i start to see the huge distance to having grown up later, under very different circumstances. it is partly details that hit me: they haven’t been teached anything about german culture as we know it – either the writers and artist were jewish, or leftists, or suspect anyway…

of course there are also the more obvious differences, the tough experiences: her account about being bombed out – and again, ms knef is not playing for sympathy – it is more telling us what cards she got dealt… so a recommended read – not if you want to get a lot of gossip about stars, but if you want to read a story of a life in strange times that was already through these times an extraordinary life – but then also normal life – living it.

too lazy to read? well, listen to it. she actually recorded a reading of some of the excerpts – and yes, it is, read by hear, even more laconic. and it is a good selection – some harsh passages, some descriptive, and also some amusing anecdote about a not-greek, not-christian, not-jewish turtle…

just be aware: it is in german. otherwise you will have to buy the book (which has been translated in many languages).

hildegard kenf liest der geschenkte gaul – ripped from vinyl in four tracks, for each side one…


one artist ms knef only got to know pretty late (considering that i read his texts as a young teenager) is kurt tucholsky. and yes, she also recorded a record with his texts: most is pure text / reading, but there are also a handuful of songs on this record.

listening to it is interesting to note that tucholsky must have been a big influence on her writing lyrics…

well, have a listen for yourself. hildegard knef liest tucholsky you can get here.


One Response to “story of a life”

  1. tom appleton Says:

    hätte ich gerne gehört, leider tut sich da rein gar nichts.

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