Bremen Nacht

Lyrics

Something happened in Bremen, I know (1)
Something I don't want to
Something under the ceiling muttered
Something in its steel shutters

Underlining my usual timing
Aligning casual set-list
And it aligned?
Knowing where right room is
I was more than usual pissed

Was first ashamed at bruise on wrist
Was then annoyed at skin-patch on back
Then I did myself acquit
On Bremen Nacht

Ich leave real quick das Bremen Nacht

Ich rausum mach aus bremen nacht

Ich rausum mach das bremen nacht

Ic-raus-Mach-Schnell aus das bremen nicht

Ich-aus Schnell mach sas bremen nacht

Ich Mach Schnell pack und aus das bremen nacht

Ich raus schnell mach von bremen nacht (2)

The child's four-fingered bruises on my hip
Meant I had been one day possessed

Right through Bremen Nacht
Right on to Bremen Tag (3)
The sunlit Bremen day
By Tonsillitis size train station Hof (4)
Could only in one way fail to impress
This on drinks door I did lay
I had been one day possessed

Ich rausum mach aus bremen nacht

Thank God skin-patch is nearly gone
And the impress of fingers dead
Have disappeared and left me alone

That's one night I didna put jackboots on
Don't want to end reflection
It's still there, though I am gone

And it will be a long long long time gone
before my spirit will in accident
go back and come from Bremen Nacht
go back and come from Bremen Nacht

(5)

Notes

1. An indication of what MES thinks "happened," from Reformation:

"MES, interviewed by Roy Wilkinson in Sounds ("The Bug.Eyed Pop Goblin"; 2 January, 1988):
 
'I'd been to Bremen twice before on tours. The first time I just puked my ring up all day
spewing up this black liquid. When I went back there this time I just went crazy. The gig had a really low steel roof - it was this German polytechnic with steel everywhere, metal shutters on the windows which made it real claustrophobic. The dressing room was like a fucking gas chamber, man. We go out and play and I'm just feeling worse and worse. I just felt like a different person, I was snapping at everyone....In the morning I had all these handprints on my leg, bruises from the inside that looked like a child's handprints. What I've settled on at the moment - everybody says it must be the Nazis, they must have killed somebody - is that it was probably the firebombing in the Second World War and it was like an air-raid shelter that had been bombed.'"

And:
 
2016 interview with ExBerliner:
 

You've got one song, "Bremen Nacht", where you sing in German about a bad show in Bremen – was that based on an actual event?

Yeah, yeah, it was a very strange thing! It was a bit like a firestorm; my whole body felt like it went up, like it'd been burnt and bruised. Its not a nice experience at all. At the time I thought I'd been pushing myself a bit too hard, hadn't been eating properly, drinking too much... But then we found out six months later that the building we had played in had been firebombed by the Royal Air Force. A bit fucking weird!
 
Bremen is in Northern Germany. During World War II, it housed the Bremen-Farge and Bremen-Vegesack concentration camps, both subcamps in the Neuengamme concentration camp complex. Bremen was heavily bombed by the Allies.
 
Hotel Bloedel deals with some similar themes about a visit to Germany, and a visit from the revenants of its past...
 
 
2. These German phrases are highly corrupted, and mostly mean something like "I must get out of Bremen night," or "I must quickly hie from Bremen night."   
 
 
3. Tag means "day." 
 
 
4. Hof in this context means "station"; "train station" in German is Bahnhof
 
 
5. The lyrics to "Last Nacht" from I Am Kurious Oranj are a variation of the above lyrics:
 
Ich leave real quick das Bremen Nacht
Child's four finger bruises on my hip
Could only in one way fail to depress
This on drinks door did I lay

I have been one day posessed

It's still there though I am gone

But I will be a long long time gone
But my spirit will in accident
Go back and come from Bremen Nacht

Ich raus schnell mach aus Bremen Nacht
Ich rausum mach aus Bremen Nacht
Ich rausum mach aus Bremen Nacht
Ich raus schnell mach das Bremen Nacht

Ich raus schnell mach aus Bremen Nacht
Ich rausum mach das Bremen Nacht

Ich raus schnell mach das Bremen Nacht

Ich raus schnell mach aus das Bremen Nacht
Ich rausum mach aus Bremen Nacht
Ich rausum mach das Bremen Nacht
Ich raus schnell mach das Bremen Nacht

Ich raus schnell mach aus das Bremen Nacht
Bremen Nacht
 
^
 

Comments (21)

dannyno
  • 1. dannyno | 13/07/2013
So earlier in 1987, The Fall played HFT Mensa, in Bremen (14 February). It sounds like this is the occasion MES refers to in the quoted interview.

"HFT" will be the Hochschule für Technik, which became part of the Hochschule Bremen, the University of Applied Sciences (so all equivalent to what in the UK we would have called a polytechnic).

"Mensa" is German for cafeteria, or, I guess in the polytechnic context, "refectory."

Would be interesting to find some pictures of it from the time.
dannyno
  • 2. dannyno | 13/07/2013
Here is Dead Can Dance playing the same venue around the same time:
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=twWdFC2CHhk&feature=share&list=PL806BE628217C2705
dannyno
  • 3. dannyno | 13/07/2013
So the venue may have been here:
https://maps.google.co.uk/maps?q=Neustadtswall+hochschule+mensa&hl=en&ll=53.072483,8.793252&spn=0.000898,0.002642&sll=53.072369,8.792665&sspn=0.007129,0.021136&gl=uk&hq=Neustadtswall+hochschule+mensa&t=m&z=19

Possibly.

Looks old enough. But post-war?
Gus
  • 4. Gus (link) | 09/04/2015
This is the only song of the Fall that turns me off, because of all the ignorance. How interesting, because other The Fall songs and titles reveal a surprising rich source of understanding.
In my humble opinion, Mark should pronounce German as it is supposed to sound, or take a German singer for such a song.

The ignorance is well portrayed in the notes.
The first concentration camps where build by the British in South Africa during the Boer wars, the bombing of Bremen was done after Britain had defeated Germany in World War one, and had put a puppet government there.

I hope you now understand why I get irritated here.
It is not personal, but more against British ignorance in general. And also on the main land of Europe, much ignorance is there against the Germans. Reformation started in Germany, in 1517, when Martin Luther would nail the 95 thesis on the Wittemburgh temple door.
Reformation!

Reformation and the ignorance about it is my concern here, and even about Puritans. I saw a French artist group calling themselves New Puritan, while no reality was found in the Art Work, although very good art, but had no relation to Puritanism, or New Puritanism, because the French have no clue about what Puritanism is.

Sure I do! Puritanism was a righteous theological approach to Anglicanism, any etymological meaning is ignorant.

British fire bombs, British concentration camps, and British ignorance. It's like this Youtube movie I saw, where a coward from the Boer wars was being called a hero by the comments.
Just British comments I suppose!

Sorry for this.
Just want to save your ass folks.
Europe should stop to blame Martin Luther, and put the nail on the donkey on the 7 hills, on a village country given in 1929 with Lateran accords by Benito Mussolini.
Not an opinion.
The romanist antichrist wants to burn all bibles and Jerusalem as his capital. Reality. Germans and British should be allies in common sense, your education and politics are run by romanists.
Mine also, for me it is the same.
Reformation!
dannyno
  • 5. dannyno | 25/06/2015
I think the rhythm of this song resembles some arrangements of the Doc Pomus song, "Lonely Avenue"
Martin Gammon
  • 6. Martin Gammon | 10/07/2016
I don't take the song to be anti-German. It just seems to be a ghostly experience that MES had because of an evil thing that happened in the past. And evil is evil, regardless of whether it was inflicted by the Germans (Bremen-Farge/ Bremen-Vegesack concentration camps) or the British (fire bombing). Places where evil has happened maintain an afterimage of doom and fear, as I'm sure the Boer war camps would. It is the innocents who have suffered and that's what the tale is about. As for the mangling of the German lyrics, I can understand that would be irritating but most Fall songs do a fine job of mangling the English language too. As a final note, it's as if the voices in MES's mind are trying to express themselves in German and he can't articulate it.
Martin Gammon
  • 7. Martin Gammon | 10/07/2016
I don't take the song to be anti-German. It just seems to be a ghostly experience that MES had because of an evil thing that happened in the past. And evil is evil, regardless of whether it was inflicted by the Germans (Bremen-Farge/ Bremen-Vegesack concentration camps) or the British (fire bombing). Places where evil has happened maintain an afterimage of doom and fear, as I'm sure the Boer war camps would. It is the innocents who have suffered and that's what the tale is about. As for the mangling of the German lyrics, I can understand that would be irritating but most Fall songs do a fine job of mangling the English language too. As a final note, it's as if the voices in MES's mind are trying to express themselves in German and he can't articulate it.
bzfgt
  • 8. bzfgt | 15/07/2016
I agree with that interpretation entirely, Martin, based on the lyrics and everything I know about MES and the way he thinks. It also seems like a companion piece to Hotel Bloedel in that regard.
russell richardson
  • 9. russell richardson | 15/04/2018
for some reason it makes me think of this clip from a film that was made in 1986 (I think... it was von Trier's second film, but was very hard to see... after 'Element of Crime' but before 'Europa/Zentropa'. So it is possible MES saw it (though I think it's extremely unlikely), and the semi-fictional story being told in the clip actually happened in Cologne (Köln)..... https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=BAcJ8Wx8uMg that would be very interesting in that it's clearly an alt. war story of what the Allies did to German civilians (which was also dealt with in Vonnegut's 'Slaughterhouse 5' - a book which MES certainly read).... and if we're looking for unconfirmed or impossible links, let's add von Trier's slightly later 'Kingdom' TV series where the ghosts of children come to haunt and affect modern people in buildings now used for different purposes (in this case medical experiements in a hospital) and finally W.G. Sebald's book 'On the History of Natural Destruction', which angrily (which is very unusual for Sebald) details the German post-war silence about Allied civilian bombings. But that book wasn't written, published or translated at the time the song was written.
Anyway, sorry Gus, I don't think MES was being ignorant at all. We all knew about Dresden (after Vonnegut) and I feel this song is deeper than a jungoistic Brit rant against Nazis.
bzfgt
  • 10. bzfgt (link) | 05/07/2018
Yeah this guy left a beautiful Vonnegut rant on Winter too now..
dannyno
  • 11. dannyno | 16/12/2018
"By Tonsillitis size train station Hof"

Bremen Hauptbahnhof:

https://upload.wikimedia.org/wikipedia/commons/thumb/a/a2/Bremen_Hbf_Frontansicht.jpg/450px-Bremen_Hbf_Frontansicht.jpg

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Bremen_Hauptbahnhof
bzfgt
  • 12. bzfgt (link) | 19/01/2019
Do tonsils look like that or something?
dannyno
  • 13. dannyno | 19/01/2019
A big swollen one might?
dannyno
  • 14. dannyno | 12/04/2019
The Guardian listed this song at #13 in their list of their misnamed "top 50 songs about Europe", 11 April 2019:

https://www.theguardian.com/music/2019/apr/11/the-50-best-songs-about-europe-ranked


13. The Fall
Bremen Nacht (1988)

Mark E Smith makes feeling ill at a gig in a German college sound like the worst case of paranoia. He later suggested his maladies were caused by the ghosts of Nazis who had died in the allied bombing of the city.
bzfgt
  • 15. bzfgt (link) | 04/05/2019
Hmm, I am in the plight of Buridan's Ass as to whether to note this or not...
bzfgt
  • 16. bzfgt (link) | 04/05/2019
In this case though staying in the middle doesn't mean starving or parching...just going to bed 45 seconds earlier
bzfgt
  • 17. bzfgt (link) | 04/05/2019
So you guessed my decision correctly
bzfgt
  • 18. bzfgt (link) | 04/05/2019
Damn, I used up those 45 seconds with my comments though...thank God I don't have flood control. And I (bootlessly) wasted another 22 seconds trying to think up a joke about Buridan's ass parching, and "flood" control...
New Fall Fan
  • 19. New Fall Fan | 16/07/2019
I just love this track...I think there is a lot of humour in it. You can palpably feel how he wanted to get the hell out of Bremen. The repeating garbled German phrases, the maniacally upbeat funhouse music, it gets quite hallucinatory. It is quite a trip of a song. And a great one to dance to. What a blast!
dannyno
  • 20. dannyno | 20/07/2019
2016 interview with ExBerliner:


You've got one song, "Bremen Nacht", where you sing in German about a bad show in Bremen – was that based on an actual event?

Yeah, yeah, it was a very strange thing! It was a bit like a firestorm; my whole body felt like it went up, like it'd been burnt and bruised. Its not a nice experience at all. At the time I thought I'd been pushing myself a bit too hard, hadn't been eating properly, drinking too much... But then we found out six months later that the building we had played in had been firebombed by the Royal Air Force. A bit fucking weird!


http://www.exberliner.com/whats-on/music-nightlife/mark-e-smith-interview

[Archive]
dannyno
  • 21. dannyno | 21/08/2020
From Spex magazine, May 1988.

German:


Nach „Hotel Bloedel" kommt mit „Bremen Nacht" die inspirierende Wirkung einer Deutschland-Tournee erneut zum Tragen. Dabei hiess es früher, du magst Deutschland nicht besonders.

“Das stimmt nicht. Hier gefällt es mir eigentlich am besten. Der Song handelt von den Geschehnissen bei unserem letzten Auftritt in Bremen, es war in einer Universität, niedrige Decken, ziemlich voll. Ich fühlte mich nicht besonders, hatte vielleicht nicht gut gegessen, und nach dem Konzert begann ich, mich sehr merkwürdig zu benehmen, als wäre ich nicht Herr meiner selbst.

Ich bin im Hotel herumgelaufen, habe überall geklopft und gefragt 'ist Steve Hanley hier?'. Und Brix schrie immerfort, ich solle ins Zimmer zurückkommen. Ich bekam Hassanfalle und fürchtete, es sei der Teufel in mir, obwohl ich wusste, das konnte nicht sein. Aber als ich mich ins Bett legte, hatte ich überall am Körper diese roten Stellen, als hätten sich Fingernägel in mich gebohrt. Mein Rücken hatte rote Flecken, wie verbrannt. Das hielt acht Stunden. Jeder hat mirdanach gesagt, ich wäre nicht mehr als ich selbst zu erkennen gewesen. Es muss irgendein Geist gewesen sein. Vielleicht ist das Gebäude während des Kriegs bombardiert worden oder ähnliches. Während des Auftritts fühlte ich, wie etwas an meinem Bein zog, aber das Publikum war nicht in Reichweite."

Vielleicht Asbest. Vielleicht hatte vorher auch eine junge britische Gitarren-Band dort gespielt, und die Mauern wollten sich jetzt wehren.

“Ja, die meisten sind schrecklich. Aber nicht alle. Ich bringe einen Sampler auf meinem Cog Sinister-Label heraus. Next Step sind gut, wie eine Kreuzung aus Public Image und Schoolly-D. Die Walking Seeds aus Liverpool sind jetzt auf Speedmetal, waren aber vorher auch sehr gut.”


Translation (relying on google translate with common sense adjustments):


After "Hotel Bloedel", the inspiring effect of a tour of Germany comes back to life with "Bremen Nacht". It used to be said that you don't particularly like Germany.

“That's not true. I actually like it best here. The song is about what happened at our last gig in Bremen, it was in a university, low ceilings, pretty full. I didn't feel great, I might not have eaten well, and after the concert I began to act very strangely, as if I wasn't in control of myself.

I was walking around the hotel, knocking all over the place and asking 'is Steve Hanley here?'. And Brix kept yelling to come back into the room. I got attacks of hatred and feared it was the devil in me, even though I knew it couldn't be. But when I went to bed, I had these red spots all over my body, as if fingernails had bored into me. My back had red spots, as if burned. That lasted eight hours. Afterwards everyone said to me that I could no longer have been recognized as myself. It must have been some ghost. Maybe the building was bombed during the war or something like that. During the performance I felt something pull on my leg, but the audience was out of reach."

Maybe asbestos. Maybe a young British guitar band had played there before, and the walls wanted to defend themselves now.

“Yes, most of them are awful. But not all. I'm putting out a sampler on my Cog Sinister label. Next Step are good, like a cross between Public Image and Schoolly-D. The Walking Seeds from Liverpool are now on Speedmetal, but were also very good before. "

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