5 Meter


On a New Year's Eve, in a new-moon land,
They played Rio Reiser, and they made their plans.
And they each had a goal; they each wanted so much.
There was nothing life could lack.

And they burned with yearning, without a care,
Running hand-in-hand through the fireworks.
It was all or nothing, against the grain,
And they did not look back.


And once there was this Hamburger maiden 
In love with a boy who came from the Rhine.
He wanted a nice little woman from Munich;
The one from the port town was never to be.
And so the two lovers passed one another right by.

Bye, bye -- pass by.

It was a 5-meter story on the platform in Bonn,
A 5-meter beginning, begun at the end.
A 5-meter kiss, before the doors closed.
A 5-meter look, and then the tears flowed.

A 5-meter wait and a 5-meter hope:
5 meters from Köln all bets were still open.
The train stopped in Duisburg, and once more at Essen,
And 5 meters later the love was forgotten.

Bye, bye -- pass by.

It was New Year's Eve, and one year further on.
And they met up again at the very same bar.
They knew where to go -- not how to get there.
They could no longer follow Rio Reiser's sweet song.

And once there was this Hamburger maiden 
In love with a boy who came from the Rhine.
He wanted a nice little woman from Munich;
The one from the port town was never to be.
And so the two lovers passed one another right by.

Right by one another.
Bye, bye--pass by.

It was a 5-meter story on the platform in Bonn,
A 5-meter beginning, begun at the end.
A 5-meter kiss, before the doors closed.
A 5-meter look, and then the tears flowed.

A 5-meter wait and a 5-meter hope:
5 meters from Köln all bets were still open.
The train stopped in Duisburg, and once more at Essen,
And 5 meters later the love was forgotten.

Bye, bye -- pass by.

"5 Meter" -- Words and music by Anna Depenbusch
Translated by Frank Beck

Of the 11 pieces - nine songs and two instrumentals - on Anna Depenbusch's new album, 'Echtzeit' (Real Time), this is the one that I find myself singing to myself, again and again. I love the word play of the lyrics and the jazzy melody, so reminiscent of Joni Mitchell's 'Blue' album. No wonder they chose it for a music video. Don't let the foreign language put you off -- listen to the YouTube performance using my translation as subtitles. Hope you enjoy it.

I should add that Rio Reiser (1950-1996) and his group Ton Steine Scherben (also called 'The Shards' because their name means 'shards of clay'), formed in 1970, were among the first Germans to sing genuine rock in their native language.

There's another song from the new album at the second link.


Le Large (The Open Sea)


No ordinary tale etched in my memory,
no ship full of pirates that can take control;
no shooting star that would leave me in the dark;
no fear, none at all.

REFRAIN:
And tomorrow all will be well and so far away,
there at the end when I take to the sea;
all will be far, so give me your hand,
there at the end when I take to the sea.

No tears--and nothing else that can strangle me,
no cloud of mist across my faded eyes;
no grain of sand or dune to halt the hourglass;
no quarter moon, none at all.

REFRAIN

No other places, none other than you.
No secret key, no chance for me.

REFRAIN

No hungry shark and no sad tune,
no regret, no quaking ground;
no empty phrases
and no chaos--none at all.

REFRAIN

Words and music by Sophie Huriaux
English translation by Frank Beck

In April 2018, Françoise Hardy released the album Personne d'Autre ("Noone else"). It was the 28th album in a career that began 56 years earlier with her hit single "Tous les garcons et les filles" ("All the boys and girls my age/promenade in the street two-by-two . . . ").

But this album was different: it came four years after Hardy nearly died in a Paris hospital at the age of 70, as a result of lymphatic cancer. As a last resort, her son agreed to try an experimental type of chemotherapy, and, miraculously, she regained her health.

When Hardy began to compile material for a new album, she wanted, among other things, to reflect her near-death experience, and French singer/songwriter Sophie Huriaux, better known by her stage name, Le Grand Sophie, provided "Le Large." The song was chosen for the album's video, shot in black-and-white by François Ozon, a French film director who had never done a music video before. His best known films are Swimming Pool (2003) and Frantz (2016).

Few contemporary songs deal with mortality with such openness and finesse; this brilliant collaboration by Hardy, Huriaux and Ozon sees it as the last of life's gifts.




Françoise Hardy in 1966

The Most Beautiful Song



There were two simple notes
but one grand symphony--
that's how we found each other,
and together we made
a most beautiful song.

So soft and so quiet
and chosen with love,
but what would the song sound like
if one note all at once were gone?

I breathe in, and I breathe out;
I let my eyes open and close;
and I hear all the singing
and all of the music:
none of it sounds like you.

It pops and spits,
it bends and breaks,
it howls and hisses,
burns and stings.

And everything's fine,
though the world's going wrong,
because it just keeps on turning without you,
yes, it does keep on turning without you.

I breathe in, then I breathe out;
I let my eyes open and close;
and I hear all the singing
and all of the music:
none it sounds like you.
No, not at all like you.

And so on days like this one--
just like today--I feel so alone;
although I'm singing here for so many people,
my only wish is that you would be there.

There are two simple notes,
here in my fantasy,
and together they make
the most beautiful song.
Yes, we're still the most beautiful song.

Words and music by Anna Depenbusch
Translated by Frank Beck

One of my favorite songs from the singer/songwriter's latest album, Das Alphabet der Anne Depenbusch. As Karla Letterman says in her article about an April 2018 concert, 'Anna Depenbusch walks out on stage, takes a seat at the grand piano, gets started--and you're in the middle. In the middle of life.'