A Thursday Therapy Tune From Germany

1The Song: Lili Marlene

The Artist: Marlene Dietrich

One of the best parts of my week is working with my groups at the assisted living facilities here in town. Reminiscence is a big part of our time together, and what better way to get the memories stirred than by playing songs from long ago. The first few weeks of each year, we explore the music from 100, 75, and 50 years ago, comparing and contrasting the new present year, to the years of the past.

Lili Marlene has a very interesting back story (which you can read more about hereseriously the story is worth checking out!) and was not actually written as a “song” until 1939. Originally it was a poem written by a German soldier during World War I in 1915. It was set to music in 1939 and first recorded by German singer Lale Anderson. The song was actually banned from the radio in Germany during the war, but the overwhelming demand from both German troops and the public kept the song playing and it became a favorite of American troops as well.

So what about Marlene Dietrich? Dietrich is the singer that participants in my groups remember and her english version of the song is the most recognizable. Dietrich (who had fled Germany in the 1930s) enlisted in the US army and traveled all over Europe performing the song during World War II, sealing the song into the hearts of the troops. She recorded the song in English and the original German lyrics. Though they are different when translated, both versions were enjoyed throughout the later part of the war.

My groups have had some great discussions this week regarding the song and their memories from the war. Though I could go on and on about the history of this song, I will end with a video of Dietrich performing the song in English. So much passion and soul in this woman’s performance! Enjoy!

German Lyrics:

Vor der Kaserne,
Vor dem großen Tor,
Stand eine Laterne,
Und steht sie noch davor,
So woll’n wir uns da wieder seh’n,
Bei der Laterne wollen wir steh’n,
Wie einst, Lili Marleen.

Unsere beiden Schatten,
Sah’n wie einer aus,
Daß wir so lieb uns hatten,
Das sah man gleich daraus.
Und alle Leute soll’n es seh’n,
Wenn wir bei der Laterne steh’n,
Wie einst, Lili Marleen.

Schon rief der Posten:
Sie blasen Zapfenstreich,
Es kann drei Tage kosten!
Kamerad, ich komm’ ja gleich.
Da sagten wir Aufwiederseh’n.
Wie gerne wollt’ ich mit dir geh’n,
Mit dir, Lili Marleen!

Deine Schritte kennt sie,
Deinen zieren Gang.
Alle Abend brennt sie,
Doch mich vergaß sie lang.
Und sollte mir ein Leid gescheh’n,
Wer wird bei der Laterne steh’n,
Mit dir, Lili Marleen!

Aus dem stillen Raume,
Aus der Erde Grund,
Hebt mich wie im Traume
Dein verliebter Mund.
Wenn sich die späten Nebel dreh’n,
Werd’ ich bei der Laterne steh’n
Wie einst, Lili Marleen!

English Lyrics:

Outside the barracks, by the corner light
I’ll always stand and wait for you at night
We will create a world for two
I’ll wait for you the whole night through
For you, Lili Marlene
For you, Lili Marlene

Bugler, tonight, don’t play the call to arms
I want another evening with her charms
Then we will say good-bye and part
I’ll always keep you in my heart
With me, Lili Marlene
With me, Lili Marlene

Give me a rose to show how much you care
Tied to the stem, a lock of golden hair
Surely, tomorrow, you’ll feel blue
But then will come a love that’s new
For you, Lili Marlene
For you, Lili Marlene

When we are marching in the mud and cold
And when my pack seems more than I can hold
My love for you renews my might
I’m warm again, my pack is light
It’s you, Lili Marlene
It’s you, Lili Marlene

My love for you renews my might
I’m warm again, my pack is light
It’s you, Lili Marlene
It’s you, Lili Marlene.

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