Lili Marleen

Howdy Howdy! I am currently reading a book in Spanish titled LILI MARLEEN : Cancion de Amor y Muerte by author Rosa Sala Rose. She has written and translated a lot of stuff related to Germany.

The only reason I picked up the book at the library, out of curiosity, was because of Leonard Cohen's classic song "Famous Blue Raincoat" which has the lines:

 Ah, the last time we saw you you looked so much older 
Your famous blue raincoat was torn at the shoulder 
You'd been to the station to meet every train,
 and You came home without Lili Marlene 

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 So I wondered - Is this a real person? Is it about Leonard Cohen?

Well, to my surprise, considering that I study songs and standards, I can't say that I was familiar with this very very famous song. Maybe I'd heard it in passing or in a film but can't say that I recall. It's originally a German song which was used by the Nazis during WW2 but it turns out it was also used by the Allies. Famous English versions are by Vera Lynn (Yes, that Vera Lynn Roger Waters sings about on Pink Floyd's The Wall).

And Marlene Dietrich sung it also. Her  English version famous because she was a German who became an American and refused to return to Germany during WW2 Something like that. Hers was the first version to change the spelling to Marlene from Marleen.

The book tells the story of the lyrics author, Hans Leip whose poem became this international sensation. It became famous in German in the voice of Lale Andersen and she was forever associated with the song.

 I'm not quite done with the book. When I'm finished I'll write some more about my impressions.

Here's a live version by Dietrich with an introduction where she says that she sung it during the war.


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