Sunday, January 18, 2009

Lale Andersen

Lale Andersen (real name Liese-Lotte Helene Berta Bunnenberg) was born in 1905 and produced a rich oeuvre of recordings that span from 1930s cabaret-chanteuse-torch songs to 1960s schlager-pop-balladry.

In 1929 she acted in productions at the Deutsches Theatre and studied acting at their Schauspielschule. She also performed onstage at the Schauspielhaus Z├╝rich, Kabarett Simpl, and Kabarett der Komiker.

In 1939 she recorded the song "Lili Marleen", based on a 1915 poem by Hans Leip, and achieved superstardom on the song's success. Unfortunately, it also put her within the radar of Nazi propaganda minister Joseph Goebbels, who ordered the record to be banned because it was too sad and demoralizing to Nazi troops. In truth, the Nazi soldiers adored the song along with Allied soldiers alike, and ultimately the song was too popular for Goebbels to supress - even Erwin Rommel of the Nazi Afrika Corps came out in favor of it. Nevertheless, Andersen was watched very closely by the Nazis during this time, and her cabaret appearances were tightly controlled and monitored.

After the war, Andersen found a new generation of fans in a new synthesis of American and German pop styles, known as "Schlager", with hits like "Jonny". But it's her early recordings we admire most, such as this tasty rendition of Kurt Weill and Bertolt Brecht's "Moritat von Macki Messer" (a song which gradually, over the course of decades, morphed into the song you may know as "Mack the Knife").

Listen: Lale Andersen - Moritat von Macki Messer

Above: a statue in honor of Andersen, on the island of Langeoog, where she is buried.

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