Saturday, October 18, 2008

Nazi Swing??

The things I find that I've got in my CD collection. While working on a review of vintage musical settings of the work of Klabund, I rummaged around in my discs to find other German Cabaret recordings, and found a fascinating collection from Proper Records. During WWII, the Germans had their own propaganda campaigns. From 1937 to pretty much the end of the European part of the war, various German jazz bands, once they were purged of their Jewish contingents, were employed to record messages for broadcast to damage the morale of Britain. The resulting songs, long buried, are an amazing listen. Almost all of them are popular songs of the day, recorded with English lyrics, and in the middle, a speak-sing section of Pro-Nazi lyrics. In the middle of "You're Driving Me Crazy," a song made popular again about 10 years ago by Squirrel Nut Zippers, the very wooden Charlie and His Orchestra break into an impression of Winston Churchill:
"Yes, the Germans are driving me crazy. I thought I had brains,/ but they've shattered my planes...The Jews are the friends who are near me, to cheer me believe me they do./But Jews are they kind who now hurt me, desert me, and laugh at me too."

Some of this stuff has to be heard to be believed. One can picture music halls in Germany bopping to this sort of thing, as the hate-lyrics go right on swinging. Other grotesque renditions include "Stormy Weather," (again with a sad Winston Churchill impression), "Bye, Bye Blackbird," and, bizarrely, "Makin' Whoopee." Sound bites are no doubt available somewhere on the internet. The 4-disc set is a freaky visit to a place where catchy music is used to promote the darkest of motives.

No comments: