Sunday, April 13, 2008

Dagmar's Deutsche Miserie

The weather in San Francisco has been horrific this weekend. After an almost too cool few days early in the week, we've had nearly 80 degree temperatures the past two days, making it miserable to be outside but requiring frequent trips into the heat to water plants that aren't accustomed to such horrible temperatures.

That's forced me to be inside much of the weekend but a good chance to complete Lenya Legacy DVD. Those interested in getting a copy can let me know. It's essentially a compilation of (mainly) Brecht/Weill songs introduced by Lotte Lenya and a rare, short documentary on her life and legacy. Mina Mazzini, Hildegard Knef, Nina Simone and Gisela May are all on hand, singing in a variety of languages.

The real joy of this, however, was discovering this very rare clip of Dagmar Krause singing "Surabaya Johnny". I only wish that it were in German, but she's no less dramatic in English. It reminds me why I think no one is better qualified to carry the torch of Lenya and Weill.

Little Dagmar came close to destroying at least a couple of my past relationships as I relentlessly played and played her definitive 1986 release Supply & Demand in which she sang the well known tunes of Brecht/Weill and the much lesser known but even more fascinating songs of Brecht/Eisler, the latter composed during their exile in Hollywood. Brecht and Weill were often praised for their sweet/sour or yin/yang combination, but Brecht and Eisler were more yang/yang, both ardent Communists and a much more intense, didactic experience.

And no one is better equipped to sing tunes like "Deutsche Miserie" and "The Lilly of Hell" than little Dagmar, the pint-sized red head sometimes called "The Voice of Armageddon". Hey, I'd take her over Mariah Carey any day.

I've also been listening to a good number of Dagmar's 1970s tunes with the pop band Slapp Happy, a German group that released mainly English language tunes.

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At 5:13 PM, Blogger Reya Mellicker said...

You San Franciscans are so funny! 80 degrees is lovely in most locations.

Sorry you're suffering, though! Maybe a gin and tonic? That's what we drink here in July and August when it really is hot in DC.

Most of the year, though, DC has great weather. Really!!

At 5:24 PM, Blogger Ladrón de Basura (a.k.a. Junk Thief) said...

Reya - Gosh, you sound like Mrs. Lovett in "Sweeney Todd" giving gin to little Toby as if it were orange juice. I could never survive a summer in D.C. Late April is bad enough in my book.

At 11:29 AM, Blogger joe said...

I agree, it was hotter than blazes down here all weekend (85-ish). I thought of going out to do errands on Saturday and then just stayed home gardening in a schmata until my evening plans rolled around. Good for you for staying in.

I'm curious about this whole Lotte/Dagmar music genre, though I often shudder at the though of anything verging on 'showtune.' I think my only exposure to Weill was in a student film I saw once. Oh, and of course Nina Simone's Pirate Jenny, which kind of gives me nightmares. Black freighter, indeed.

At 11:50 AM, Blogger Ladrón de Basura (a.k.a. Junk Thief) said...

Joe - I am sure you were fetching in that schmata in the garden. Fortunately it's nice and crisp here again.

Dagmar is definitely not 'showtime', nor is Lenya. Brecht and Weill have weaved in and out of my life too many times. They can become tedious, but then they come back. I always liked the description of them as the "original glitter tiwns" on the 198s compilation "Lost in the Stars".

At 1:18 PM, Blogger rich bachelor said...

The versions I dig the most:
"Mack the Knife"-Peggy Lee (so nice, and therefore perverse)
"Surabaya Johnny"- Combustible Edison, with a close second going to Portland's own Daphna Kohn
"Pirate Jenny- Nina Simone (and points off to Judy Collins for even attempting it)

The weekend was hot as de debbil's pitchfork, which was much appreciated. It started raining, last evening, as we began loading the traveling stage production of "Sweeney Todd" onto the trucks. Of course.

At 2:10 PM, Blogger Salty Miss Jill said...

Madame Eartha Kitt does a great 'Surabaya Johnny'. I didn't know that it was a Lotte Lenya tune.
Who, by the way, looks just like Anaiis Nin in that photo.

At 2:23 PM, Blogger Ladrón de Basura (a.k.a. Junk Thief) said...

Rich - I like most of those. Some other favorites:
"September Song" - The Young Gods
"Mortitat" - Lyle Lovett
"The Soldier's Wife" both P.J. Harvey and Marianne Faithful.
"Alabama Song" - The Doors

Judy Blue Eyes doing Brecht/Weill? Egads.

Jill - Sorry, that photo is Dagmar not Lenya. Sorry, but Eartha's a bit too gay for me.


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