MUSICAL MUSINGS: German music—definitely not lost in translation

This is the second of three installments on foreign music.

After my successful foray into French music last week (see “Not being able to understand the lyrics is why I like French music”), I decided to try something even more exotic.

Thus, my relationship with German pop music began.

I started, once again, by going through Spotify’s top list for Germany until I came across a song without an English title.

That’s how I came across “Ich lass für dich das licht an” (translated “I leave the light on for you”) by Revolverhead.

When I listen to this song, I can’t help but nod my head along with the beat. The instrumentation is so calm and moving—a soulful and (somewhat) classical cello and piano set the melancholy tone that is continued throughout the piece.

And when the instrumental interlude in the second half comes, I find myself air-drumming along.

Even though I can’t understand anything being said, I still can appreciate the song’s intensity. The deep, pleading vocals leave me begging for whatever is making the singer sad to be fixed.

Out of curiosity, I decided to look up what the lyrics meant so I could verify my interpretations.

Here’s the jist of the story:

There’s a guy who really likes a girl and decided to write a song about how much she means to him. (How original.)

I’ve listened to this (lack of?) plotline unfold hundreds of times before in the majority of American pop songs. But something’s different about this German version: the lyrics are actually interesting and profound.

“When we walk home at night, / Lips blue from red wine, / And we share my big jacket / Until the corner up ahead.

The sky is already getting dawn-red / But you don’t want to sleep yet.

I leave the light on for you / Even though it’s too bright for me.”

Even more remarkable is how the German language itself is perceived. I have always thought of German as a harsh language, one that I would never want to listen for long times for fear of a headache.

But Revolverhead manages to make it a beautiful and lyrical cure for headaches.

Some of my other favorite Revolverhead songs from the album Immer in Bewegung are “Bands deiner Jugend” (“Bands of your youth”) and “Neu anfangen” (“New start”).

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