Konstantin Wecker – Was passierte in den Jahren

One of the songs that comes back to me again and again, and always leaving me touched to the core, is Konstantin Wecker‘s Was passierte in den Jahren. There is one sentence that always resounds in myself during hard times:

Komm, wir gehen mit der Flut
und verwandeln mit den Wellen
unsre Angst in neuen Mut.

in English

Come, let us go with the surge
and change with the waves
our fear into new courage.

My English unfortunately is only a meager translation of the power the words are carrying in this song, so I give a translation of the full song in the hope that it at least a little bit transfers the feelings.

The version I am listening is from a great album, a live concert of three of the big singer-songwriters of Germany, Hannes Wader, Reinhard Mey, and Konstantin Wecker. The following video contains the track from the concert, and also the intro by Konstantin Wecker. The song starts at 0:50.

For the full text and my try of translation, read on.

First I give the original text in German:

Wie du doch das Treiben satt hast,
immer wirft dich diese Flut
an ein unbekanntes Ufer,
und dir fehlt schon lang der Mut,
neuen Küsten zu begegnen,
du bist müde, gräbst dich ein
und beschließt für alle Zeiten
nie mehr heimatlos zu sein.
Und das nennt sich dann erwachsen
oder einfach Realist,
viele Worte zu umschreiben,
dass man feig geworden ist.

Was passierte in den Jahren,
wohin hast du sie verschenkt?
Meistens hast du doch am Tresen
das Geschick der Welt gelenkt.
Und die fiel nicht aus den Angeln,
höchstens du fielst manchmal um,
und für die, die du bekämpft hast,
machst du jetzt den Buckel krumm.

Auch du wolltest wie die andern
fest in einem Weltbild stehn,
statt die Ängste zu durchwandern,
übst du sie zu übersehn.
Manchmal jagst du für Sekunden
deinen Zweifeln hinterher,
doch aus Sorgen um die Wunden
bleibst du lieber ungefähr.
Und dann triffst du noch die Kämpfer
aus der guten alten Zeit,
fesche Jungs mit drallen Frauen,
und ihr lächelt alle breit.

Was passierte in den Jahren,
wohin hast du sie verschenkt?
Meistens hast du doch am Tresen
das Geschick der Welt gelenkt.
Und die fiel nicht aus den Angeln,
höchstens du fielst manchmal um,
und für die, die du bekämpft hast,
machst du jetzt den Buckel krumm.

Und ich frag mich, ob ich wirklich
so viel anders bin als du?
Zwar ich kleide meine Zweifel
in Gedichte ab und zu.
Das verschafft paar ruhige Stunden,
doch eigentlich ist nichts geschehn.
Ach, es gibt so viele Schliche,
um sich selbst zu hintergehn.
Doch da muss jetzt was passieren,
zuviel Zeit ist schon verschenkt,
und es wird von den Erstarrten
das Geschick der Welt gelenkt.
Und die fällt bald aus den Angeln.
Komm, wir gehen mit der Flut
und verwandeln mit den Wellen
unsre Angst in neuen Mut
und verwandeln mit den Wellen
unsre Angst in neuen Mut.

and now for my trial at an English translation:

How sick you are with the goings-on!
And again you are thrown by the surge
back onto unknown shores,
since long you are missing the courage
to visit new shores.
You are tired, dig yourself in,
and decide for all times
not to become homeless again.
This is called being adult,
or simply realist.
Many words describing
that you have become a coward.

What happened in these years,
where did you spend them?
Most of the times at bar
you have guided the fate of the world.
But the world never collapsed,
only you at times,
and now, for those you have fought against
you are working with arched back.

You wished to be like the others,
fixed in this world view.
But instead of wandering through your fears,
you learned to oversight them.
Sometimes you are chaising for seconds
your doubts,
but worried for the scars
you prefer to remain unclear.
And then you meet the fighters
from the good old times,
smart guys with buxom wifes,
an everyone smiles widely.

What happened in these years,
where did you spend them?
Most of the times at bar
you have guided the fate of the world.
But the world never collapsed,
only you at times,
and now, for those you have fought against
you are working with arched back.

And I ask myself, am I really
so much different from you?
Yes, I hide my doubts
in poems now and then,
that gives a few peaceful hours,
but actually nothing happened.
Oh so many ways there are
to trick yourself.
But now something has to happen
far too much time has been wasted.
And by those frozen ones
the world is governed, and
soon it will break down.
Come, let us go with the surge
and change with the waves
our fear into new courage.

Maybe because I think I know the feeling, the restlessness of living between worlds, I often sing this song, and often feel the need to change my fear into courage. Because the most scary for me is getting adult, digging myself in, being solidified – and all that seems to getting more and more reality.

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2 Responses

  1. Textesatt says:

    I remember a poet performing at my school when I was about 16 old – he presented a poem in which the most important line was that he would never in his life refrain from protesting against injustice, inhumanity and whatever was against his very own opinions. The older he got, however, the quieter his protests got. I swore to myself then, I’d never stop protesting.

    • Hi TexteSatt,

      long time no hear! Thanks for the comment. I never saw them live, unfortunately, but as it is with most humans, we get less radical and a bit soft with age. Keep up your fight!

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