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Lyr Req: Wo Sind Die Elefanten (Rosselson)

DigiTrad:
AZEKATARLE
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WHOEVER INVENTED THE FISHFINGER
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GUEST 29 Nov 18 - 11:28 PM
Joe Offer 30 Nov 18 - 12:47 AM
Senoufou 30 Nov 18 - 04:04 AM
Jim Dixon 30 Nov 18 - 05:29 PM
Joe Offer 30 Nov 18 - 08:20 PM
GUEST,Grishka 01 Dec 18 - 03:38 AM
DaveRo 01 Dec 18 - 04:02 AM
Senoufou 01 Dec 18 - 04:12 AM
GUEST,Grishka 01 Dec 18 - 04:16 AM
GUEST,Grishka 01 Dec 18 - 04:25 AM
Senoufou 01 Dec 18 - 04:59 AM
DaveRo 01 Dec 18 - 05:16 AM
GUEST,Grishka 01 Dec 18 - 05:56 AM
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Subject: Lyr Req: Wo Sind Die Elefanten
From: GUEST
Date: 29 Nov 18 - 11:28 PM

Does anyone have lyrics for Leon Rosselson's song `Wo Sind Die Elefanten?` I rather like this song but haven't been able to find any lyrics lurking around the dark corners of the internet, and several lines are spoken too quickly to be easily understood.


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Subject: RE: Lyr Req: Wo Sind Die Elefanten
From: Joe Offer
Date: 30 Nov 18 - 12:47 AM

I thought we had those lyrics posted, but I guess not. There's a YouTube video, but it probably won't play outside the U.S.:

Watch this space over the next few days. Perhaps some kind soul will post the lyrics. If you post what you have, maybe we can work on it together. I have a copy of Bringing the News from Nowhere: Songs by Leon Rosselson, published in 1992. A note in the back says the songs from Ws Sind die Elefanten? arrived too late to be included in the songbook.

-Joe-


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Subject: RE: Lyr Req: Wo Sind Die Elefanten (Rosselson)
From: Senoufou
Date: 30 Nov 18 - 04:04 AM

The Youtube video DOES play here in UK Joe, and what a lovely, poignant song that is! I'd not heard it before and it brought tears to my eyes.


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Subject: Lyr Add: WO SIND DIE ELEFANTEN? (Rosselson)
From: Jim Dixon
Date: 30 Nov 18 - 05:29 PM

I think this is pretty accurate. Let me know if I have made any mistakes. (I'm glad it only had the one phrase in German.)


WO SIND DIE ELEFANTEN?
As recorded by Leon Rosselson on “Wo sind die Elefanten?” (1991)

East Berlin in February, twenty degrees below:
Hurrying figures hunched against the darkness and the snow,
And I watched them file down Karl Marx Alley queuing at the light,
So they can cross the road and fade into the night.
If I could only find the German I once learned from the BBC,
I could ask them: are they happy? Are they free?
But only one phrase lingers on from lesson three.
It remains in my brain like a lonely refrain, like a song that has no ending and is sending me insane:

And I say: Wo sind die Elefanten? Faces turn and stare.
The question sparks no answer as it dies upon the air.
Wo sind die Elefanten? No one wants to know,
Or dares disturb the silence of the snow,
And I thought I knew the answer long ago.

The young man wears a party badge, a clenched fist in his head,
And his speech marks out the future, and for him the future’s red,
And I watch him as he builds a wall to keep the shadows out
From an ordered world that has no room for doubt.
Does he believe the chants he marches to, the slogans and the lies?
Or does he calculate that that’s the way to rise?
And is that certainty he wears, a disguise?
And again in my brain there’s this lonely refrain like a song that has no ending and is sending me insane,

And I say: Wo sind die Elefanten? What’s the latest news?
Are they doing tricks in circuses or locked in concrete zoos?
Wo sind die Elefanten? He doesn’t seem to know,
Or won’t disturb the silence of the snow,
And I thought I knew the answer long ago.

Now the Berlin wall is crumbled like sand castles in the sea,
And there’s been a revolution where it wasn’t meant to be,
And I’ve watched the crowds on TV as if waking in the dawn.
They see the old world dead, the new world not yet born,
And are they bright with hopes of videos and dish-washing machines,
Big macs, cosmetics, polo magazines,
And Dallas on their television screens?
And I hear: ev’rywhere cash is king; drop your share in the corridors of choices; are there voices still that dare to ask it?

Wo sind die Elefanten? Nomads roaming free,
Once they ruled the continents from the mountains to the sea.
Wo sind die Elefanten? No one wants to know,
Or cares to break the silence of the snow,
And I thought I knew the answer long ago.

Once elephants roved Hampstead Heath; it’s still in my mind’s eye.
I see them silhouetted against the eastern sky
With their trunks raised up in triumph to salute the rising sun,
And then one day I woke and they were gone—
Those strange fantastic creatures with their gentle caring ways,
Too large to fit the landscape of these days,
Where nothing is preserved unless it pays;
But the poor are still poor and there’s greed and there’s war and the muck is junk-house squalor that the dollar cannot cure.

So tell me: Wo sind die Elefanten? Weeping for their dead,
Circulating sadly round the dried-up river bed.
Wo sind die Elefanten? Vanished with the snow.
Were they just a dream of long ago?
A story for a child I used to know?


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Subject: RE: Lyr Req: Wo Sind Die Elefanten (Rosselson)
From: Joe Offer
Date: 30 Nov 18 - 08:20 PM

Whew! Good job, Jim. Thank you very much. It's a fascinating song, isn't it?
-Joe-


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Subject: RE: Lyr Req: Wo Sind Die Elefanten (Rosselson)
From: GUEST,Grishka
Date: 01 Dec 18 - 03:38 AM

Thanks from me, too. One detail: instead of "polo magazines", "porno magazines" is what was mentioned in the news those days; they were a no-no in communist countries.

As for the soap opera "Dallas": If I remember correctly, Western German TV could be legally watched in East Germany, probably since the '80s, and "Dallas" (in German synchro) was immensely popular there. Party officials were pleased, because the soap seemed to convey an unflattering image of capitalism. Their flock, however, enjoyed and envied the "glamour".

Nevertheless, indeed a fascinating song, political without being afraid of more subtle poetry. It reflects Leon Rosselson's biography, initially hopeful in organized communism, then disappointed, but still hoping for another powerful idea of freedom - yet to be formulated.

My own recommendation to his heirs: learn beyond lesson three.


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Subject: RE: Lyr Req: Wo Sind Die Elefanten (Rosselson)
From: DaveRo
Date: 01 Dec 18 - 04:02 AM

I was amused that Jim heard 'porno magazines' as 'polo magazines'.

For me the stand-out track on that CD is the Song of the Old Communist:
You have nothing at all to believe in
You whose motto is 'Money comes first'
Who are you to tell us that our lives have been wasted
and all that we faught for has turned into dust?


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Subject: RE: Lyr Req: Wo Sind Die Elefanten (Rosselson)
From: Senoufou
Date: 01 Dec 18 - 04:12 AM

Gosh, well done Jim! And thank you from me too.

I've been pondering the words of this song and the sentiments expressed, and can't seem to sort out in my head what Rosselson is saying.
He finds Communism/totalitarianism unacceptable, and realises that the people secretly desire capitalism, consumerism and all the materialism it brings.

But he obviously despises that too as cheap and tacky, and reflects on a world where elephants roamed free...and this is where I can't sort out where this leads. That humans in general have wrecked planet Earth? Or are the elephants a metaphor? That materialism is a false god?

It's such a beautiful song and I've got quite obsessed with it, so I'd like to understand it better.


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Subject: RE: Lyr Req: Wo Sind Die Elefanten (Rosselson)
From: GUEST,Grishka
Date: 01 Dec 18 - 04:16 AM

DaverRo, the trouble is that the same verse could be subscribed to by a, say, So-Called-Islamic-State fighter.


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Subject: RE: Lyr Req: Wo Sind Die Elefanten (Rosselson)
From: GUEST,Grishka
Date: 01 Dec 18 - 04:25 AM

Senoufou, as DaveRo correctly pointed out, Rousselon still believed in "some kind of" communism, combined with "some kind of" elephantine freedom and grandeur, so he certainly would not think that people secretly desire capitalism. Rather, he may have believed that many people are indeed deceived and ungrateful. That was in 1992.


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Subject: RE: Lyr Req: Wo Sind Die Elefanten (Rosselson)
From: Senoufou
Date: 01 Dec 18 - 04:59 AM

Ah, I see. Thank you Grishka. Perhaps I was misled by the line 'Are they bright with hopes of videos and dish washing machines?'

I'm still not quite sure of the kind of Utopian world Rosselson envisages.
I think his question, 'Are they happy? Are they free?'is telling.
But happiness and freedom are blessings found in what sort of political system?
I'd love to sit down with this chap and have a lovely long conversation!


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Subject: RE: Lyr Req: Wo Sind Die Elefanten (Rosselson)
From: DaveRo
Date: 01 Dec 18 - 05:16 AM

GUEST,Grishka wrote: as DaveRo correctly pointed out...
Er... I merely said I thought it is a great song. Not a word out of place, and the way Leon sings it expresses the old man's anger, but also his doubt. I'm not endorsing the lyrics, though the point about IS is well made - would I admire a well-crafted song that expressed a hateful viewpoint?

There's a long interview with Leon, originally broadcast on Radio Britfolk IIRC. I expect it's referenced here on Mudat somewhere.


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Subject: RE: Lyr Req: Wo Sind Die Elefanten (Rosselson)
From: GUEST,Grishka
Date: 01 Dec 18 - 05:56 AM

Are they bright with hopes of videos and dish washing machines?
Obvious irony, as you now realize.

DaveRo, you correctly pointed out that Rosselson was not renouncing communism altogether (how come I typed "Rousselon" - a Freudian slip for "Rousseau"?).

As for "a hateful viewpoint": many islamist fighters claim to be true lovers of humanity, and so did some of the worst communist oppressors. Read about Mielke with his famous exclamation "I love all - all Humanity! I really do!". (In my understanding, his words actually mean "But I love all mankind! Dearly so! I strive for that, to be sure!", where "dearly" refers to his previous address "Dear comrades" that was being rejected.) And what is worse: he may have even believed it himself!


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