Song of the Day, March 29: Frag mich nicht immer by Peter Gabriel

GabrielEDAFragToday’s song is a brilliant result from a curious experiment. After releasing his third eponymous album (known as “Melt” from the cover photograph), Peter Gabriel did something unexpected. He remixed the tracks, recording some new elements, and recorded all new vocals. With the help of Horst Königstein, he rewrote the whole album in German, and delivered a package that is similar to the English original, but eerily different. The translated lyrics are excellently crafted, capturing the spirit of the English without trying to stick to the precise words. If you don’t know German, the soundscapes of the album become more mysterious and menacing, with Gabriel’s voice taking on the role of a compelling new instrument. When it works, it’s an impressive effort that ties into his work with World Music nicely.

The finest moment is a blend of the instrumental track Start and the song I Don’t Remember. Reworked as Frag mich nicht immer (literally “don’t ever ask me”), it exceeds the power and menace of the original by a mile. Gabriel’s vocal is sinister and demanding and the reworked backing is urgently dark. Not every German take is as interesting, but this one makes it all worthwhile.

Enjoy this linguistic triumph today.


About Robert Hulshof-Schmidt
Freelance writer, researcher, online comic vendor, and project manager. Fan of a wide range of music -- especially folk and 80s pop -- vintage comics, British TV, and LGBT fiction.

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