Song Of The Day 10/7/2015: Drafi – “Marble Breaks and Iron Bends”

The Hidden '60s, Part 2 – Drafi Deutscher (1946–2006) was a fascinating specimen. The native Berliner was Romani in origin and sped to the top of the European charts composing and singing Schlager songs. The history of Schlager music varies across each country in Europe. In general it's hap-hap-happy music in which true love always prevails, hope is almost reflexively rewarded and table settings are perfect marriages of beauty and function. In Germany Schlager sprung from the light operettas that came into favor, thanks to less life-and-death musical presentations – think The Merry Widow. It thrived in the ’60s, when Schlager’s life-affirming, love-drugged, subversion-free lyrics posed a fluffy alternative to aggressive rock and roll. More concisely put: You know all those dopey songs that used to win the Eurovision Song Contest year in year out? Schlager songs, the lot of them.

Deutscher’s biggest hit was “Marmor, Stein und Eisen Bricht,” thoughtfully translated for English-speaking audiences into “Marble Breaks and Iron Bends” (#80, 1966). Although lyrically it’s Schlager all the way, instrumentally it’s a partial concession to rock and roll with those staccato guitar chords in the intro and the very pleasant release in the chorus. The "dum-dum" refrain in the verses is typical Schlager strategy. Otherwise it’s a welcome rave-up.

Oh, why was Drafi fascinating? He became one of German music’s most sought-after producers, bringing people like Boney M and Tony Christie to prominence. He almost shot it all to hell in 1967, when he was convicted and sentenced for public indecency. This would refer to a brief moment of drunken lunacy when he urinated from a balcony in full view of some schoolchildren. Say what you will about Jim Morrison, at least his whipped-out member had some limits. The conviction was so devastating that Deutscher had to use a pseudonym for all his professional efforts for quite some time afterwards. Nowadays that kind of behavior gets you a show on TLC.

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