Monday, June 6, 2011
#0003 Germans singing gospels
After WW II the Germans were seduced by the American soldiers' chocolate bars, chewing gum and music. The black soldiers were particularly interesting for what was left of the Caucasian population, so the new forms of American music - gospel and jazz - captivated the (sometimes literally) captive audiences from Flensburg to Salzburg. However, you can't change a population's genes in a generation or two (as much as some people tried) and Germans for the most part still can't really swing today.
Listening to a colorfully dressed group of Hans and Liesls singing "Oh happy day" as if they were at a funeral is bad enough, but it has a double sting if some of the audience members are black Americans expecting real gospel music. The painful recognition that the heirs to gospel music are applauding politely rather than thrusting their hands into the air and shouting "Halleluja!" drives home the horror of this unfair musicological turn-around. In other words, "It don't mean a thing if it ain't got that swing."