Playlist Shuffle Tag prompted by Julie Davide – Book Reviews and Other Musings

This was too fun for me to pass up.

Following an idea I read about on Julie Davide – Book Reviews and Other Musings, I put on the “My Top Rated” playlist from my iTunes library with shuffle selected, and I vow to honestly post the resulting list of 15 random songs.

music CD cases Vinyl records - 2

In keeping with Julie Davide’s retro artwork, I pulled out physical copies of albums where I could. Here’s Graceland, by Paul Simon, on vinyl.

I did limit shuffle to this one playlist because, as a parent, there’s a fair amount of “stuff I loaded to please other people” in my library. “My Top Rated” is all music that I’ve chosen for my own pleasure, much of which I can’t even play when the kids are in the car due to mature content…

My results are below this excerpt from—and link to—Julie Davide’s blog.

The Playlist Shuffle Tag Happy Thursday y’all. I’ve seen this tag around on other blogs and decided to join in the fun! I have a feeling that this will turn out quite the array of my musical taste as my musical palette has a wide range. Without further ado, and while avoiding any duplicates, I hope […]

via Tags – The Playlist Shuffle Tag — Julie Davide – Book Reviews and Other Musings

15 16 Really Wonderful Things that shuffled up from my iTunes Library.

  1. “Rare Child” by Danielia Cotton, whom I first heard being interviewed on NPR (i.e., National Public Radio.) She’s got a soulful rock & roll sound, and I enjoy the whole album, also titled Rare Child.
  2. “Taking a Liking” by Melissa Ferrick was included on my Out Loud compilation CD/album for the human rights and freedom of lesbians and gays. It’s a love/ wanna-be-in-love song for someone who admits her faults but also her desires.
  3. “The Lady in Red” by Chris de Burgh, a sentimental favorite from my pop radio listening childhood that now reminds me of my doting and superlative husband. I can’t help but assume his thoughts echo those of the singer of this love song. It helps that I heard de Burgh interviewed on the radio when I was a girl, and he spoke of how he saw his own wife across the room at a party and came to write this song. If they eventually broke up, don’t tell me: I love this sweet story.
  4. “Miz Thang” by SaffireThe Uppity Blues Women from their album music CD cases - 2Broad Casting; I saw them live in college. This song celebrates the powerful woman. My favorite lyrics: “It ain’t about an ego/ and I’m not being rude/ but Lord, Lord, Lord, I’ve got a new attitude/ If you like my peaches/ come on and rub my fuzz/ I’ll share with your the power, the wonder and the love…” Also consider checking out “Shake the Dew off the Lily” if you’re willing to hear another great bluesy song about a commonplace, slightly off color occurrence in the WC but draped in a lot of floral metaphors.
  5. “Fur” by Jane Wiedlin. She’s a former Go-Go, so it’s the bounciest song about protecting animals from cruelty and vivisection on the PETA organization’s 1991 compilation Tame Yourself.
  6. “You Can Call Me Al” by Paul Simon. I doubt Mr. Simon needs further introduction, but this came from his album, Graceland, which was my re-introduction to his artistry post-Muppet Show guest appearances. He and Chevy Chase are hilarious in the music video for this song.
  7. “Money Changes Everything” from Cyndi Lauper‘s debut studio album, She’s So Unusual. This vinyl record was one of the first albums I ever purchased; I bought her greatest hits via iTunes to include these all time favorites in my digital catalogue.
  8. “There She Goes” by Sixpence None the Richer. It is a pleasant song. I rarely choose to search it out, but I almost always let it play through when it pops up. I didn’t know this band was a Christian one until I read their Wikipedia page for this post.
  9. “Don’t You Forget About Me” by Simple Minds, because The Breakfast Club music CD cases - 3was absolutely my favorite Brat Pack movie of the 1980’s and this song made me feel like we could fight authority’s labels for us all and even break free from them. It still sums up that emotional climax for me. Maybe now I have more in common with the principal than the rebellious teens, but my heart doesn’t realize it.
  10. “Must Be Crazy For Me” by Melissa Etheridge. Her 1992 album Never Enough was one of the vital soundtracks of my college years, but I listen to it more from nostalgia than excitement today. This song always was my favorite from this album, but I find “You Can Sleep While I Drive* her most beautiful work.
  11. “Speed and Velocity” by They Might Be Giants. You could call Here Comes Science a kid’s album, but adult TMBG fans should enjoy it, too. I really do! Plus, it’s so educational: “Motion, direction, acceleration/ I’ve got speed—that’s how fast I am moving/ I’ve got velocity—that’s my speed and direction.” If either of my kids ever misses this question on a Physics test, they’ll be subjected to hours of non-stop listening to this tune.
  12. “Kokomo” by The Beach Boys. Slightly sheepish about this one, but I bought their Greatest Hits album last summer when I wanted to listen to… summer music. I bought a bunch of Motown singles that day, too. You feel like you should be riding in a convertible on your way to the beach listening to this stuff. And I don’t even like the beach!
  13. “San Francisco” by Brett Dennen is a catchy pop song I got for free from Starbucks back when they had those little cards on the checkout counter. My young son collected Starbucks cards like other kids collected Pokémon. It’s a catchy tune, and a helpful travelogue for visitors to the City. Our SF hotel concierge carefully cross-hatched over the entire Tenderloin district as a place to avoid at all costs, but Dennen had warned me “Deep in the Tenderloin/ you can have anything you want.” That does sound dangerous. Don’t tell the concierge, but I ate at a Tunisian place at the edge of the Tenderloin. The food was fantastic, and a bargain in an expensive city.
  14. “Little Red Corvette” by Prince. Here’s a conundrum: I’ve been meaning to reduce my rating of this song so I hear it less often. I like it, but… I’ll skip the track if I’m not busy doing something else when it comes on. For that reason, I’m going to list 16 tracks instead of the fifteen I promised up front. I hit the button to advance to the next track, which gives us:
  15. “Light My Fire” by The Doors. music CD cases - 1Does this one require any discussion? It’s an oldie, definitely a goodie, and remains a fun listen. Watching the film, The Doors, back in 1991 left me with a more melancholic reaction to all of the band’s songs, however, draining much of the counter-culture exuberance from the work. Jim Morrison and Val Kilmer are all tangled up in my mind. I’m left with a vague fear of bathtubs, at least when rock legends or hard drugs are present.
  16. “American Idiot” by Green Day. I wish I never felt a connection to lyrics that include “Don’t want to be an American idiot/ One nation controlled by the media./ Information age of hysteria/ It’s calling out to idiot America.” I’d like to be a more thoroughly positive person. I do find angry punk music a great balm for my existential crises, though, and this song rocks. I fundamentally reject the notion that this song is about the real America, much the way I rejected my older relatives dismissal of youth (in 1992! regarding my generation! X! <snicker>) as incompetent or wayward. There are incompetent youths; there are moronic Americans. All that being said, the future will be carried by the young, for as long as there is a future, and America has created and cultivated some awesome ideas for humankind. Perfection? Never. But I’ll keep working on that, along with a few million other do-gooders.

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6 more German pop songs for learning Deutsches Vokabular und Grammatik

Because my children haven’t been embarrassed enough by my enthusiastic sing-alongs, here are six more pop songs that I’m using to improve my German language skills.

Added to my playlist, Deutsche Popmusik:

I found lyrics for all of these songs online in the original Deutsch and in English translation. Try MetroLyrics.

1) Leider Geil

By Deichkind; I had to pay $12 from Amazon USA for the CD as it wasn’t on iTunes, but you can easily find and view the video online to check it out for free.

Possibly explicit. Anyone fluent in German care to enlighten me about this song’s degree of rudeness? Please share in the comments if you know.

If you’ve ever seen America’s Funniest Home Videos, you’re well on your way to imagining the music video for Leider Geil. Familiarity with the “watching people do moronic stuff” genre will also help you understand why my young teen son found this song so appealing. This is the only foreign language track he asks to hear.

This song definitely has some mature content (coarse language and references to a one night stand), but, if my translation is accurate, I would allow my teen to listen to an equivalent track in English after some commentary from me about content.

Leider geil translates as “unfortunately awesome,” but geil also means “horny.” My German isn’t good enough to know just how risqué the language is, but it’s awfully catchy. It has a modern, slacker-esque, rhythmic edge that reminds me of the relationship between the Beastie Boys and pop music back when I was a teen. As far as I can tell, the wordplay seems clever in translation.

Are these guys cool? Are they male chauvinists? I have no idea, but I’m enjoying the tune.

I won’t ever forget how to say “unfortunately awesome” now that this song is in my head. I might accidentally deploy the phrase in polite company and embarrass myself. Oops! Leider geil!

2) Männer

From iTunes, I bought a cover version by “Partysingers” of this Herbert Grönemeyer hit.

Here’s an anthem for the men’s movement. Musically, this song is so retro 1980’s, which makes sense since it came out in 1984. It isn’t my favorite track in the playlist, but it’s a good resource for opposite adjectives with lyrics like:

Men have it hard, take it easy,
Outwardly hard, but inside all soft…

3) Tage wie diese

Available on iTunes, by Die Toten Hosen (yup, that means The Dead Pants.)

4) Wir trafen uns in einem Garten

Available on iTunes, by 2raunwohnung.

I’m listing these two songs together because both fall under the umbrella of “songs that sound like the kind of music I might listen to casually in my own language.” Neither has an unforgettable hook of the sort I can’t get out of my mind. Both fit reasonably well into my music library of alternative music, most of it from the late 1990’s and early aughts.

With lyrics in hand, a language learner can easily follow along with the words. The trick, for me at least, is to keep concentrating on them for the purpose of studying; I tend to get distracted by other things because these songs are a little too easy for my mind to transform into background music.

Comfort and familiarity may not be such a good thing when trying to pay close attention and learn.

5) Die Gedanken Sind Frei

Available on iTunes, by the Brazilian Girls.

The Brazilian Girls are apparently not Brazilian, and there’s only one female member in the band. She’s the one singing this pop interpretation of a classic German folk song that translates as Thoughts are Free.

And I am locked in a dark dungeon
I scorn the pain and human works
For my thoughts break the bounds and the walls,
Thoughts are free!

I learned of these lyrics from the lovely children’s book, From Anna, which I’ve previously reviewed. Searching for the full text—which brought me to tears reading the excerpt in the novel—led me to this quirky modern interpretation. I quite like its combination of funky rhythm, lightly overlaid electronics, a pretty, feminine vocal sound, and the traditional protest/progressive lyrics.

6) Da Da Da

As with 99 Luftballons in my first post about catchy German pop songs, this one was already in my music library. Unlike Nena’s really obvious hit, I had forgotten completely that there were German lyrics in Da Da Da. After all, da is the Russian word for yes.

You might remember this song from an old Volkswagen commercial (circa 1997.) If you do recall it, you might hate it. It’s a fairly goofy, very repetitive song with minimal lyrics, but some of them are in German. If you like this kind of electronic sound, you can learn to say “I do not love you, you do not love me” auf Deutsch. I hope that doesn’t come in handy!

If you enjoy Da Da Da, you’ll definitely want to check out Eisbär from my earlier German song post.

Happy listening!

5 German pop songs for learning Deutsches Vokabular. Bonus: Embarrasses the kids!

Hopefully this won’t get me reported to the authorities for my abusive behavior, but I’ve been casting about for something new to enliven my study of German. I decided on pop songs. I’m specifically aiming to reduce my inhibitions when speaking this summer in a German language immersion environment. I think my best bet is conducting my learning in the most playful manner I can devise.

There has been a lot of acting out dialogs from German Readers and the Pimsleur CDs*. DS2 is not clear on why I keep involving him in my shenanigans, but melodramatic German dialogues conducted with yourself are just crazy. When done with your child, they’re home schooling!

Just when your teen thinks you can’t get any more embarrassing, you add singing out loud in German to your repertoire. I even do it in the car in the school parking lot when I’m waiting to pick up DS2.

Yeah, I’m that kind of mom.

My new playlist, Deutsche Popmusik:

I found lyrics for all of these songs online in the original Deutsch and in English translation. Try MetroLyrics.

1) So ein schöner Tag (Fliegerlied)

I chose a version performed by Zillertaler Dirndljäger found on iTunes.

We have to begin with Fliegerlied. More properly titled, “So ein schöner Tag (Fliegerlied)“, the name translates to Such a Nice Day (Aviator’s Song.) I played the song previews on iTunes to choose the one I liked best of the many covers of this song. Be sure you search for both “So ein schöner Tag” and “Fliegerlied” to see every version of this track.

I first heard this song at Waldsee family week where my son and I went to learn German in 2015. They played this song. They played it a lot. There are coordinating hand motions, too. And I liked it all! Any time a party atmosphere could be conjured in the Waldsee “Village,” it was, and the disco music flowed.

Personally, I find Fliegerlied charming and catchy. I couldn’t figure out all the words properly by ear, not even with a teaching session by the music leader early in the week. I got the gist of the lesson that we were singing about something that flies and having a good day.

Fliegerlied turns out to mean “aviator” or “airman.” Obviously not the easiest word to guess via mime. This bouncy ditty is great for picking up quickly as it repeats… and repeats… and repeats a few lyrics. Just try not to get this one stuck in your head.

I have a very high tolerance for song repetition, so proceed cautiously if you don’t. Fliegerlied is an Ohrwurm (ear worm; a song that gets stuck in your head) for sure. Waldsee gets full credit for this song being on my list. It’s the first one I’d recommend for a cheerful student of German.

2) 99 Luftballons

Performed by Nena; more than 99 versions found on iTunes!

You thought this one would be first, right?

99 Luftballons was an international hit in 1984, and it doesn’t need any more introduction or description from me. They play this one regularly at Waldsee, too. Unless you’re Captain Kirk or ein Kriegsminister, what’s not to like? You’ll be able to discuss war, balloons, and UFOs with the new vocabulary.

3) Eisbär

Original version by Grauzone is on iTunes; search both Eisbär and Eisbaer to find every cover.

I believe this will be the first song I memorize completely in German. I’ve had it two days and I can almost recite it by heart. I just looked at the lyrics I downloaded and did a quick count, and I think there are only 20 unique words in Eisbär, most of which are obvious (Eisbär=”ice bear”=polar bear) or easy beginner words (mussen=have to, but sounds conveniently like “must”; kalt=cold.) Learn two verbs: schreien (screaming) and weinen (crying) and you’ll understand the whole song.

Admittedly, this song is my least favorite on the playlist from a musical perspective. The music is repetitive, too electronic for my taste, and the song feels longer than it should be.

4) Wir Sind Wir

By Paul van Dyk featuring vocals by Peter Heppner; ordered CD single from Amazon.CD Wir Sind Wir Musik

I saw the video of this song online as I searched for my German pop songs. This one has slower tempo and more complex lyrics. We Are Who We Are is the title in English. The lyrics poetically describe lingering societal issues from the reunification of east and west Germany and how the people are responding. I’d describe its temper as somber but hopeful. Since I’m an optimist, I like it on principle for noble subject matter. The singer also enunciates very clearly—super helpful for the language learner. It’s really easy to follow along with his vocalized lyrics, which isn’t true of all these songs.

5) Ich Will

Available on iTunes; performed by Rammstein.

I’m not even checking to see if anyone has covered this song. I think you must listen to the original or give it a pass. This is heavy metal music, quite different than everything else on the playlist. The video I viewed online was downright creepy and not my cup of tea, but the song translates as cruel but not vulgar. I study around my kids, so really salty language would eliminate a song for my situation.

If  you enjoy metal—or can get past the growling intensity here to memorize the lyrics—you’ll be rewarded with several useful additions to your vocabulary. This guy WANTS (wollen, to want, to intend; Ich Will translates to I Want) a lot of stuff from the audience. He states that emphatically in the present tense (plural du– form.)

I might be growling it rudely at people, but I will never forget how to say “I want” auf Deutsch after hearing this song a few times.

Useful vocabulary includes “I want to disturb the peace;” ich will die Ruhe stören. And, in case I am robbing a small group of you, “I want to see your hands!”

“Ich will eure Hände sehen!”

Actually, I’ve just realized, this will come in handy with the kids, too. Now how do I say, “I want to see your beds made!”…

* Can’t imagine the Pimsleur lesson dialogues acted out dramatically? Try pretending you’re interrogating a suspected spy while repeatedly asking each other:

  • “Do you speak German?”
  • “Do you speak English?”
  • “Are you an American?”

Yeah, the kids LOVE it. Ha!