“Ich bin ein Berliner”

Hey everyone – I thought I should give you fair warning that I’ll be taking a break next week. I’m going to Germany – Berlin, specifically – and won’t be taking my computer, so, no posting.

I’m pretty excited about the trip. I was there in 1994 or ‘95, but it was a very short visit as part of a whirlwind tour of Europe. The city was pretty chaotic and I remember a lot of construction and it being difficult to get around. Somewhere I have a journal with observations made during that trip, but it’s nowhere immediately available, so I’ll spare you.

What prompted the decision to make another trip was an article in the New York Times about Hansa Studios, where David Bowie, Iggy Pop, and Nina Hagen all recorded career-defining albums. The legendary studio, as well as other rock and roll landmarks, has become a stop on a music history-oriented tour. That put me in the mind that it would be really cool to take a trip to Berlin and see some of the offbeat historical stuff I missed during that first trip.

I organized my trip around my schedule, without even thinking that there might be some sort of tour schedule. Silly me, I figured, “It’s a tour – it’ll be there.” So it was well after I had my itinerary locked in that I looked into booking the rock history tour, through the company I had read about in the Times, The Fritz Music Tour.

Unfortunately, the tours only run on Sundays, and since I booked the trip based on my schedule, I arrive on a Sunday and leave the following Saturday. I was bummed to learn that the impetus behind my whole trip was now not going to happen. I did email the guys who do the tour and found they may be able to get me into Hansa Studios. They also sent me a list of shows I could check out while I’m in town. So, all is not lost.

In recognition of my upcoming trip, I thought I’d post music this week from or influenced by Berlin, with an emphasis on Hansa Studios. I’m kicking things off tonight with David Bowie’s “Heroes” album.

Released in 1977, “Heroes” is the second installment of what is generally called Bowie’s “Berlin Trilogy.” It’s bracketed by Low and Lodger. Of the three, “Heroes” is the only one recorded entirely in Berlin. While researching a little for this post, I found a cool site called Music Nerds*, from which I got some of the following info about “Heroes”:

‘Heroes’ was recorded at the height of the cold war in a studio next to the Berlin Wall. The constant low level tension caused by being watched by suspicious - and potentially dangerous - guards, plus the larger implication of why the Wall was there at all, provided a very creative atmosphere.” 

“Heroes” co-producer Tony Visconti considered the sessions “one of my last great adventures in making albums. The studio was about 500 yards from the wall,” he told a Bowie biographer. “Red Guards would look into our control-room window with powerful binoculars.”

The tracks I’ve pulled from “Heroes” for tonight’s post are the title track, which I love, and “Joe the Lion.” “Heroes” (the song) is about a German romance in the figurative and literal shadow of the Berlin Wall. “Joe the Lion” reportedly is about performance artist Chris Burdon. It’s also a song that rocks, driven by Robert Fripp on guitar.

Joe the Lion.mp3


*If you’re interested in making your musical nerdiness official, check out the Music Nerds Web site. They are looking for “contributors who offer their own personal take on every single track on a given album.”

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At 5:54 PM , Blogger DIANA said...

Hey thanks for Heroes. and trivia. I so needed this song tonight, it reminds e how i'm supposed to be and feel.

At 7:07 PM , Blogger aikin said...

awesome, Diana! That comment made my day - glad I was able to help out in some small way



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