Stadt Land Fluss

Anna Depenbusch



Now I'm here, then I'm there:
My suitcase always packed to go,
So nothing holds me anywhere,
And there is nowhere I'm at home.
I need the rails beneath my feet,
The gentle rattle of the doors.
Solid ground no longer helps me;
My life keeps rolling like a train.

Stadt Land Fluss:
To there and back,
From inside to outside
And then inside out.
Stadt Land Fluss:
To there and back;
The world's a blur
Till I know where I am.

Every mile makes it easy
Both to forget and to forgive.
All the old ways I've abandoned;
There's no more baggage--I'm alone.
People say that you need a goal:
Trust yourself and your gut feeling.
But what if there is nothing there
Because your only goal is you.
It comes and goes just as it wants to;
Only in motion is it still.

Stadt Land Fluss:
To there and back,
From inside to outside
And then inside out.
Stadt Land Fluss:
To there and back;
The world's a blur
Till I know where I am.

Between Hamburg and Berlin,
Between Munich and Schwerin,
Between Bremen, Cologne and Stuttgart,
Between Freiburg, Mainz and Puttgarden,
Between Oder, Elbe, Rhine,
Somewhere there I'll be right now.

Shadows flicker on the curtains;
Leaves fly by but stay in place.
Walls of houses, lines of traffic;
Joni Mitchell paints the landscape blue.
Mirrored pictures in the windows;
I let the thoughts rise upwards like a kite.
That is goodbye, but in my own fashion.
In your travels, remember me.

Stadt Land Fluss:
To there and back,
From inside to outside
And then inside out.
Stadt Land Fluss:
To there and back;
The world's a blur
Till I know where I am.

Words and music by Anna Depenbusch
Translated by Frank Beck

One of my favorite songs from Anna Depenbusch's new album, Das Alphabet der Anna Depenbusch. She's a songwriter with the knack of presenting life's contradictions, without trying to smooth them out.

The phrase 'Stadt Land Fluss' refers to a popular German game, often played in a car, in which one person names a letter of the alphabet and players compete to see how many cities, countries and rivers starting with that letter they can name in a specified amount of time. As such, it's untranslatable. See the first link below for a live performance of the song from Darmstadt in April 2017.


Anna Depenbusch in concert--Darmstadt, April 2017 (Photo: Thomas Bieg)

Throw It Overboard


What’s going on inside this house?
Everything is in the way.
I can’t catch my breath here;
I need room to think.
I have doubts about it all,
and they're like Post-Its, sticking to my skin.
Come over to the window: we must—

Out, out, out—throw it overboard.
I must be light, light, light—throw it overboard.
Clear the ship, 'ahoy' to freedom—throw it overboard.
This dress of lead is not for me.
It’s not for me. No, it’s not for me.

Perhaps this is a test of how many tons of stress
can be laid across my shoulders before I lie down.
Well, today I will last longer, but I'll see you later:
let's cut loose and raise the anchor

Out, out, out—throw it overboard.
I must be light, light, light—throw it overboard.
Clear the ship, 'ahoy' to freedom—throw it overboard.
This dress of lead is not for me.

Don't call me anymore, and don't send mail;
My laptop's in the trash; my cell phone's in the loo.
I'm just surfing down here, naked at the beach.
You've got a lousy network, and you're

Just burnt out—throw it overboard.
I must be light, light, light—throw it overboard.
Clear the ship, “ahoy” to freedom—throw it overboard.
This dress of lead is not for me.
It’s not for me. No, it’s not for me.

Do I really need this car? (No)
Or these faucets made of gold? (No)
Do I need all these books? (No)
The alarm out in the hall? (No)
Do I need this sofa? (No)
And all these chic new shoes? (No)
Do I need to have white apples
On my chic new watch? (N0)
Do I need all this stuff? (N0)
And these bags made just for sports? (No)
I'm not into heavy haulage: we must--

Out, out, out—throw it overboard.
I must be light, light, light—throw it overboard.
Clear the ship, 'ahoy' to freedom—throw it overboard.
This dress of lead is not for me.
It’s not for me. No, it’s not for me.

I must be light, light, light—throw it overboard.
I must be light, light, light.

'Alles uber Bord'Word and music by Anna Depenbusch
Translated by Frank Beck

I've just received a copy of Anna Depenbusch's new album, Das Alphabet der Anna Depenbusch (Sony/Columbia), her first new recording in nearly five years--and it's been well worth the wait. Depenbusch's music combines pop and French chanson, with a little Kurt Weill mixed in. What's surprising to me is how much that combination of genres still has to say to us in 2017. I'll post translations of some other lyrics from the album as I do them.




Astronaut


Quiet and mute, you go on your journey,
And, weightless, draw circles across the deep blue.
You look in the distance and need only the stars;
astronauts are so happy, just being alone.

And, if everything here tonight should just explode,
what is it you've really risked?
Was there nothing to lose? Really, no one to lose?
No, to you it's the same--all the people banal,
and this whole stupid, little world is second best.

You torment yourself, you roll in your bed;
you don't sleep anymore, don't even eat.
You're so stuck as you tumble through space and through time,
because nothing holds you, nothing delights you,
so nothing can ever be missed.
How did your heart ever get so worn out?

Among the planets you play Blind Man's Bluff--
so indescribable the light and the views--
you go chasing rockets and bright shooting stars,
but it's life down here you never see.

So you look in the distance, you need only the stars;
astronauts are so happy just being alone.
You dream of adventures with monsters so mean,
aliens and dragons and, oh, so much more:
astronauts really have to be brave!

And, if everything here tonight should just explode,
you have nothing to lose,
to you it's all the same--
the people banal,
and, since nothing quite matters,
you feel so abandoned
and as dark and as cold as the moon.

Words and music by Anna Depenbusch
Translated by Frank Beck


'Astronaut' comes from the 2011 album, Die Mathematik der Anna Depenbusch