Sunday, September 9, 2012

Marlene Dietrich: Lili Marleen

Lili Marleen: Marlene Dietrich sings the song that best defines her during the Second World War, “Lili Marleen.” It was taken from a poem, “The Song of a Young Sentry” (1915), written by Hans Leip, a German soldier on the way to the Russian Front during the First World War. The poem was published in 1937, set to music by German composer Norbert Schultze in 1938, and recorded by Lale Andersen in 1939Tommie Connor later wrote the English lyrics. Marlene Dietrich has adapted these lyrics. You can find out more about the history of the song here.

During the Second World War, the song was popular with both Allied and Axis troops, showing the universality of music. Marlene Dietrich, a committed anti-fascist, helped make the song popular with American troops stationed in Europe. As one site puts it:
German film actress Marlene Dietrich contributed enormously to the popularity of the song. Having come to the U.S. five years earlier to make American films, in 1935 Adolf Hitler demanded that she return to the Fatherland. Dietrich, and ardent anti-Nazi, refused, resulting in her films being banned in Germany. She worked tirelessly during the war years with the USO, entertaining Allied troops with her cabaret performances that featured the song Lili Marlene. For her work, the U.S., the French, and eventually the Israeli government awarded her medals for he valuable work to the war effort. Her recording of Lili Marlene (both in German and in English) remains the signature version of this song.
You can also listen to Marlene Dietrich sing the original German song here and an earlier versions in English here and here.

Lili Marleen
[Original German Lyrics]
by Hans Leip, 1915

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. :|

2. Unsere beide 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. :|

3. Schon rief der Posten,
Sie blasen Zapfenstreich
Das kann drei Tage kosten
Kam'rad, ich komm sogleich
Da sagten wir auf Wiedersehen
Wie gerne wollt ich mit dir geh'n
|: Mit dir Lili Marleen. :|

4. Deine Schritte kennt sie,
Deinen zieren Gang
Alle Abend brennt sie,
Doch mich vergaß sie lang
Und sollte mir ein Leids gescheh'n
Wer wird bei der Laterne stehen
|: Mit dir Lili Marleen? :|

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

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