Do You Need To Know More About Nina Hagen?

Many Americans instinctively tune out voices in languages other than English. It's a shame because we miss out on so much. In 1978 I had just returned from living abroad for nearly 7 years, many of them in Amsterdam, a real multi-lingual city. A rocker who I was friends with there, Herman Brood, had a weird East German girlfriend, Nina Hagen, whose weirdness interested me. In '78, I was a dj in San Francisco and when I first heard The Nina Hagen Band, I was immediately drawn to it and played TV-Glotzer, her version of "White Punks on Dope," a Tubes song that had already been a local SF hit, a lot. Her second album, Unbehagen was more "commercial" and more accepted-- at least in the cutting edge alternative music community. I wasn't the only dj on KUSF playing African Reggae. In 1982, by then living in Santa Monica, Hagen released an English language album, NunSexMonkRock, an alternative music hit. Songs I liked best were Cosma Shiva, her daughter's name, Smack Jack and my favorite of all her songs, "Born In Xixax" (above).

By the time she released Angstlos, I wasn't a regular dj any longer but I liked a couple of songs from that album, Zarah and New York, New York, which I played a few times as a dance club dj. I'll suggest just a couple of more songs to you, the Don't Kill The Animals single she did as a duet with Lene Lovitch, an American living in London. From late in her career (2010) she did a spiffy version of the Depeche Mode hit, Personal Jesus (on an album of the same name that also included a cover of Woody Guthrie's classic All You Fascists Bound to Lose).

OK, so until yesterday, you would have now heard almost everything you needed to hear to make you more of a Nina Hagen expert than anyone likely to be at a holiday dinner. But yesterday... retiring Chancellor Angela Merkel chose a Nina Hagen song from her teenaged years in East Germany, Du Hast Den Farbfilm Vergessen ("You Forgot The Colour Film"), as one of the three pieces to be played at her Großer Zapfenstreich military leaving ceremony. That's one that I don't even recall ever hearing.