Martin’s Music – Introduction

Throughout the East Berlin Series the protagonist, Martin, name drops some of the bands he’s listening to, and is just as often teased by his daughter, Katrin, who finds her father’s musical tastes to be somewhat outdated, and at times even embarrassing.

Originally I wanted music to play a much bigger part in the book – I was interested in the musical clash between East and West. It’s not as if Martin didn’t have the chance to listen to Western music – living in Berlin he could receive all the West Berlin radio stations. On the other hand he could only buy those records which the state record label, Amiga, released.

Now that Martin is able to pass freely between East and West Berlin, he has the opportunity to listen to more than just the pop and general dross that the mainstream radio stations were broadcasting in 1993.

Katrin is also helping out, making mix-tapes for her father, sometimes just recording whole albums on to cassettes, determined to subject him to what she thinks of as better quality music. Martin appreciates both his daughter’s efforts, and the music that she is giving him.

Although some musical interaction has made it through to the final version of Stealing the Future, Martin’s musical journey has had to be abridged due to copyright law. Lyrics aren’t like poetry or prose, where short quotes are seen as fair dealing and are permissible – when it comes to music you’re liable for licencing costs as soon as a lyric becomes recognisable, even if that’s just two words. It’s kind of hard to talk about popular music without quoting a lyric or two and – in the absence of cash to pay for licence fees – I reluctantly excised whole paragraphs of musical consultation and argumentation between father and daughter.

Nevertheless, you, dear readers, ought not miss out on the experience of Martin’s Music. I’ll be posting links to clips and lyrics of the bands that Martin listened to regularly. Martin’s musical preference was mainly for East German Blues, but he did enjoy the odd bit of Ostrock – how could he not listen to such classics as City’s Am Fenster? But Martins’ most serious musical crime (at least in the eyes of his daughter) would definitely be his soft spot for the Puhdys. Their classic album is the subject of the first post on this theme, complete with links to the music. Have fun with The Puhdys’ Das Buch.