‘Naturtränen’, original audio recording. Lyrics at the bottom of this page.

‘Naturtränen’, video recording of live performance.

See also Nina Hagen in ROCK II

Nina Hagen


Part Ten Chapter 13

What a delicious surprise! Transposed to string quartet, ‘Naturtränen’ is magical. Listen! Holding irony and innocence in tension, the soprano embodies the spirit of the song. Look! She takes me back to London, 1979. I was working on a screenplay on a gloomy Sunday when Jane came by with two tickets to see a German band. ‘I heard Nina Hagen sings Schubert to Johnny Rotten’, she said, ‘let’s go and see her, she’s playing at the Lyceum’. A few hours later we were floored by the virtuosity that came from Nina’s malleable mouth; the songs were excellent and the band kick-ass. ‘She’s an original’, Jane said, ‘she’s the real thing’. Yes, ‘punk from East Berlin’ was a pigeon-hole that couldn’t confine her: Possessed of the sacred fire, she could fly. Now here she is being sung by a red-haired soprano in Reykjavik, a metempsychosis that testifies to the shamanic power of art. Is it not here where I belong, rather than in the throes of love? Marietta, go, if you must, but know that when you’re gone, I’ll love you through my powers as a shaman!

Listen! The singer now begins the ravishing vocalise. The beauty of her voice against the strings is overwhelming: If you’ve got to go, Marietta, go now, before the music’s over: Enfolded in this voice, I can bear your leaving.

Listen! The exclamation that interrupts the coloratura blows me away just like it did in London; the guttural snarl that reclaims rock from opera moves me now just as it did then: If music renews itself in each performance, have I renewed myself? The viola drones under the violin harmony; the cello plays a heavy bass line. Well, have I renewed myself?

Listen! The singer is in the flow of her vocalise; she is at once aware and unselfconscious, focused and at ease.


Nina Hagen (words and music) | Translated by Richard Jonathan

Off’nes Fenster präsentiert
Spatzenwolken himmelflattern
Wind bläst, meine Nase friert
Und paar Auspuffrohre knattern

Ach, da geht die Sonne unter
Rot, mit Gold, so muss das sein
Seh ich auf die Strasse runter
Fällt mir mein Bekannter ein

Prompt wird mir’s jetzt schwer ums Herz
Ich brauch’ nur Vögel flattern sehen
Und fliegt mein Blick dann himmelwärts
Tut auch die Seele weh, wie schön

Natur am Abend, stille Stadt
Verknacksen Seele, Tränen rennen
Das alles macht einen mächtig matt
Und ich tu’ einfach weiterflennen

Wide-open my window shows
A cloudy sky, sparrows aflutter
The wind blows, my nose freezes
And exhaust pipes they roar and rattle

Ah, here comes the setting sun
Like it should, red with gold
In the narrow street down below
I see someone I used to know

Now of a sudden my heavy heart sinks
I need only see a few birds flying by
For my sad gaze to fly skywards
Sore is my soul, and how lovely it is

Nature at evening, the city silent
Soul in torment, tears a-running
So all conspires to make me weary
And I just keep can’t keep from sobbing

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