Who was/is Walter Mossmann ? - CDs, Vinyl LPs, DVD and more

Walter Mossmann

"A walking BRD work of art" ("Folker!")

"I could have kissed her," writes Walter Mossmann in the supplement to his CD 'Chansons', on which he has compiled most of the songs from his first two LPs. Who could he have kissed? Well, Ann Thönnissen. For in 1966 she certified in the cult magazine 'Twen' the then 24 year old Mossmann "intellectual acuity" and wrote: "I'm impressed, the air in the morning is more foul, I hear: 'Is this finally the new German song? At that time, the songwriter had just returned from his second Waldeck festival, which had brought him a grandiose media response. Influenced above all by French chanson poets such as Georges Brassens and then also by the spirit of the times, which blew over from the USA, where the folk revival was in full swing with singer/songwriters such as Pete Seeger and Phil Ochs, the young musician born in Karlsruhe in 1941 practiced his first own songs. Among them the 1965 Survivor's Song. The chorus "Ne pas se pecher au dehors! / Better not lean out! / E pericoloso sporgersi!" only the older ones among us will still be able to understand. When one could still open train windows, there was always a small sign with this text on it. Mossmann uses the expression "leaning out" as a metaphor for interfering, participating, assuming responsibility, exposing oneself: in short, for democratic co-responsibility. He is concerned with the generation conflict of the epoch between the Nazi generation and the Nazi children, the '68 cohort'. Decisive for the success of the Nazis, said the Nazi children, were not only the deeds of the perpetrators and the followers, but also the inaction of the indifferent, the spectators, those who did not want to know.

Mossmann first performed the song at the Waldeck in 1965. In the winter of the following year he recorded it, accompanied by Michel Werner and guitar on bouzouki and clarinet, for his first LP: 'Achterbahn - Chansons'. In view of electrified guitar and beat rhythm, Mossmann notices in retrospect that the debate between folk purists and 'electrifiers', which Bob Dylan's use of electrically amplified guitar had triggered at the Newport Folk Festival 1965 in the USA, played no role at all here.

In the magazine 'Song' he answered in October 1966 to a question about the song Hafenrevue, another title of his debut LP: "It has been criticized that your songs become partly incomprehensible through esoteric jokes, allusions, quotations. Is that your intention?" - "I'll take the blame. But let's take an example: the cabaret artist depends on his audience reading the newspaper, preferably the same magazine, so that it is informed about 'drawer laws', 'Pinscher', 'Hausbrand bei Grß' etc. Let us assume that a few boxes of our consciousness are not filled with press releases, such as a poem from our school days, a popular opera song, a song text. That's what I'm reflecting on. So I show in the 'Hafenrevue' how the dreams of the happy islands are produced and for whom. Then the inclined listener could at least enjoy the connection between 'Ship of my Dreams' and 'Mignon', the contrast between the magazine story and Jenny's pirate vision, and Freddy's interpretation as a coffee cap of the mind. Admittedly, I sometimes misjudged myself (the 'Dormeur du val' and 'Le bonheur' are not quotable here), but others can do the same. Perhaps some of Süverkrüp's 'Tantalustbarkeit' will think of hopeless stone rolling or of the Tarantella - in the heat of the moment."

With two LPs in his pocket - after 'Achterbahn - Chansons' 'Große Anfrage' was released in early 1968 - Walter Mossmann was then invited to the Essen Song Days in the autumn of that year - along with other Waldeckers such as Franz Josef Degenhardt, the Kröher twins, Rolf Schwendter, Dieter Süverkrüp and Hannes Wader. Reinhard Hippen described him in the programme as follows: "Critics have called Mossmann a 'parodist', an 'inwardly deeply injured', a 'lyrical sarcastic' or even a 'sociology toner'. The person concerned himself, who appreciates Mozart operas and the Beatles and is an excellent connoisseur of Heinrich Heine's music, describes himself simply as a chansonnier: 'I call my usage poetry chansons because I made my first songs under French influence and because 'chanson' means nothing more than 'song' and I don't find the play with the witty attributes particularly funny. At the Essener Songtage, however, Mossmann did not appear at all; he had said goodbye to the singer-songwriter scene during the dramatic year 1968 and only returned seven years later with his 'Flugblatttliedern'.

Mossmann's enthusiasm for Heine goes back to his studies in Tübingen. In the winter semester 1962/63 he wrote a paper on 'Germany. A Winter's Tale'. Since then Heine has been his second chanson patron saint alongside Georges Brassens. This is clearly shown by the LP 'Große Anfrage'. The title track 'Große Anfrage auf dem Montmartrefriedhof anlässlich eines Staatsaktes' - meaning the pontifical requiem for Konrad Adenauers, "the seemingly immortal icon of post-war restoration", broadcast live on television on 26 April 1967 - is scattered over the entire title track in April 1967 - quotes from Heine works. And with the 'Preface to the Audience' the record sleeve is adorned with a programmatic text about the 'Political Song', which explicitly refers to Heinrich Heine and with which Mossmann distanced himself from the 'tendency poetry' of some songwriters: "Sure, the political singer names his traditions, describes the offensive, takes sides; but when he, contrary to better knowledge, goes down on the party line, then he goes on the line.

On this second record you can also find Pik Sieben or Carneval at Circe. Hanns Dieter Hüsch said in Radio Bremen, after hearing it live at the 4th Waldeck Festival in 1967: "That he is a poet, we know that Heinrich Heine accompanies him on many paths, we also know, but that he can be so smug, fragile-ironic, yes, almost ringlet-natty-tipsy and ashtray Wednesday-like rolled away, I think we didn't know that, at least I didn't."

* 2004 four CDs with about 60 titles by Walter Mossmann from the sixties, seventies and eighties were released under the title 'Chansons - Flugblatttlieder - Balladen - Cantostorie/apokrüfen'. In the review of the magazine 'Folker!' it was said: "Not a singer-songwriter, a walking BRD-overall work of art presents itself here ... He was so wasteful with his voice that she did not stay with him and he redirected the unbroken stream of creativity into film and theatre work. Hopefully this box won't be Mossman's last word."

Extract from
Various - songwriter in Germany
Vol.1, For whom we sing (3-CD)

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