David Warin Solomons’ Music Catalogue

Updated Site

Search this site

Als e gitarr

Als e gitarr - after the poem by André Weckmann



When I was living in Strasbourg I came across the poetry of André Weckmann, one of the most important proponents of the Alsacien language as a cultural force.

I chose his touching poem Als e gitarr to sing at a concert in St Nicolas Church, in support of the Green Party, back in 1977 (the Greens got ten percent of the vote that year) and Mr Weckmann himself was in the audience. He enjoyed my rendition (although he considered my pronunciation of the language a little "American" !).


Several years later, back in England, I recorded it, having translated the spoken parts into English but keeping the sung parts in Alsacien.

The recording - spoken part in chest voice and sung part in alto, with simple guitar accompaniment - can be heard here:


Published version and mp3 available (free download)

[narrator]

Do you remember?

You were sitting together on the banks of the old university

Do you remember?

behind you stood that great naked bearded statue

was it an ancient god or a philosopher?

Do you remember?

You were wearing that flowery miniskirt over your soft legs

and the boy beside you lay his face on your suntanned arm

Do you remember?

it was on the banks of the old university

and your lips would murmur:

[girl]

ich ben dini gitarr

ich ben d'wies vun dine nintzehn jahr

ich ben dini gitarr

ich ben d'wies vun dine nintzehn jahr

heerscht de akoord en moll

wie metall siede un holtz

metall wie siede, siede wie metall

und warmes dunkles holtz

ich ben dini gitarr

ich ben d'wies vun dine nintzehn jahr

brün leiyet d'sunn uff minere hüt

griyen leiyet die weyer en mim bleck

wis steht e berike vor minere dür

ich ben d'wies vun dine nintzehn jahr

ich ben dini gitarr . . . .

        

I am your guitar

I am the tune of your nineteen years

I am your guitar

I am the song of your nineteen years

listen to the chord in minor mode

like metal silk and wood

metal like silk, silk like metal

and warm, dark wood

I am your guitar

I am the song of your nineteen years

the sun colours my skin brown

the pool colours my eyes green

the birch tree stands white before my door

I am the tune of your nineteen years

I am your guitar


[narrator]

Do you remember?

Once he saw the dark night blue in your velvet eyes

And you walked side by side along the dusty streets

of Alabama

Once he saw the sun's blond and the northern sky blue

And you walked side by side along the cold byways

of Prague

Do you remember?

He once saw you, chestnut brown

and your green eyes sparkled with golden stars

and you walked side by side through the old streets

of Paris

and your lips would murmur:


[girl]

ich ben dini gitarr

ich ben d'lieb vun dine nintzehn jahr

heersht min dantze en duur

wie metall siede un holtz

so hall wie metall

so fijn wie siede

und warm wie dunkles holtz

Enger wisser berike han mer uns gfunde

En brüne sunne han mer gebade

üss griene wasser han mer gedrunke

ich ben d'lieb vun dine nintzehn jahr

ich ben dini gitarr


I am your guitar

I am the love of your nineteen years

listen to me dance in major mode

like metal silk and wood

as bright as metal

as fine as silk

and warm like dark wood

We found ourselves beneath the white birch tree

We bathed in the brown sun

We drank of the green water

I am the love of your nineteen years

I am your guitar

[narrator]

Do you remember?

You found each other

knew each other

then lost each other

who knows where?

was it on a barricade or in a war?

who knows where?

And the naked philosopher with the ancient beard

stands alone behind your bench

at the old university

and knows nothing more of you

than the end of your song:


[girl]

d'wisse berike füle uffm stock

d'brün sunne han de rotschin

d'grieyene wasser sen vergeft

un nix mehr esch gebleve vun uns

als e gitarr....

The white birch rots where it stands

The brown sun is red and dying

The green waters are poisoned

And nothing is left of us

But a guitar...

Note: for interest, the haunting phrase for the words "ich ben dini gitarr"

also appears (with great relevance) in my song

 Cupid, Shame yourself

Back to Solo Voice main page

“What is left of us” (instrumental version of Als e gitarr)

   flute, guitar

   clarinet, guitar

   cello, guitar