Antje (dieastra) wrote,
Antje
dieastra

RIP Udo Jürgens

A great man has left us yesterday, all of a sudden and very unexpected. He was one of those people that seemed to have been around forever and you expect him to be around forever. He had a successful career for decades, starting in the Sixthies. Just a few weeks ago the TV celebrated a wonderful gala for his 80th birthday, and he still seemed so full of power and youthful. He gave his last concert just two weeks ago and a new tour was planned for February.

Austrian singer, songwriter, composer Udo Jürgens was mostly known in German speaking countries, but also had number 1 hits in France and Japan and toured all over Europe and in China and Japan as well.

We certainly loved him on this side of the wall as well - he gave concerts in Eastern Germany and always tried to cross borders, he spoke up and predicted the wall would be teared down in one of his songs in the Eighties. I recently saw a documentary about one of his concerts in East-Berlin - tenthousand people who had not been able to get tickets were at the stage door and they had to get him out with a tank finally. And he pleaded to the authorities to not shoot the people.

I am sure if he had switched to English he would have had a world career but he always insisted in sticking to German, he wanted the people to understand his lyrics. His songs often were very thought provoking. Some of them were forbidden in Eastern Germany, like the simple song about a balloon flying from Bavaria to Prague. Other songs were forbidden in Western Germany, the Catholic Church did not like his song where he critisized the pope for forbidding birth control. In the Seventies he had a song about an unmarried couple living in a house and the reactions of the conservative neighbours. Later this song got updated about a gay couple.

He wrote over 1,000 songs, some of them were even sung by Shirley Bassey and Sammy Davis jr. Bet you didn't know that? Here is "If I never sing another song" by Sammy Davis jr., which I would consider a very typical Udo Jürgens composition, that's exactly how his music was, powerful, with a high peak, and yet then it can get so soft again: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=LUlLP23VH_0



If you prefer, you can also listen to the same song in a very different soft just piano version by young singer Jamie Cullum (while Udo Jürgens is listening), this is from the birthday gala just a few weeks ago: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=IQjRxUzHA0Y



And this is Shirley Bassey with "Reach for the stars", a very old song from the Sixthies, before Udo's career started in full: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=iouNMIbM0X4



Trying to find more English songs for you, here is "I can - I will", which is a duet partly German (Udo Jürgens) and partly English (Sonja Kimmons). This is from the concert in 1987 in East Berlin, which I watched at the TV at the time at the age of 14. It was also the first song I tried to translate with the English lessons I had in school.

One of my favouritest songs, but really, I have so many: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=M-P7NGWxtZ0



Didn't know he was number 1 in the USA as well. Here is Udo with the Surpremes in 1977: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=PjXY8NHKjOI



And the song "Griechischer Wein" is called "Come share the wine and has sung by Al Martino and Bing Crosby also: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=6V_EqkBEJO4



Another one of my all time favouritest is called "I have never been to New York", about a man who wants to buy cigarettes and suddenly realizes he could leave right now, as he never has been to New York or San Francisco but in the end he goes back to his wife and kid. Live in concert, Udo mixes his song in the middle with Frank Sinatra's "New York, New York" and it was always a highlight.

Some of his songs even inspired me for pictures, I painted one for the song "Ice to Fire" and sent it to him and got a letter back. He also has a song called "5 minutes to 12", he sings about the beach that now is full of oil, and where used to be a wood they now build an airport, about the desctruction of our environment. I made a picture that can be changed from one to the other by switching it one frame. The part in the middle stays the same, as this is the hope, the future:

 photo 5Minutenvor12-1600x450.jpg

 photo 5Minutenvor12-3600x450.jpg

I don't think I ever sent this to him. Now it's too late.

He wasn't as successful in his personal life, you can't be a dedicated husband and father with such a job, but well, nobody is perfect. He loved the ladies when he was younger and the ladies loved him.

If you live in Germany, in the evening the ARD will show a documentary about his life with lots of old clips and wonderful interviews, and the ZDF will re-air the really wonderful birthday gala. Both are highly recommended.
Tags: Udo Jürgens, art, music
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