Thursday 25 December 2014

Udo Juergens

Few musicians have bridged the German divide more than the Austrian-Swiss chanson singer Udo Juergens. To anybody who knows his songs this seems a strange statement since Juergens provided the soundtrack to the 1970s West Germany, a country that had become comfortable with its reduced relevance in the world. His songs at times scratched the surface of this comfort, often revealing fault lines of modernity that made Germany look not quite as settled as it often felt to its inhabitants.

Juergens on his 80th birthday

Yet, Juergens mainly delivered sounds of simple ease and joy, something that was in short supply in a country disconcerted by its past and its growing economic might.

After the re-unification, concerts in the East showed how much Juergens' music was touching the sentiments of all Germans. Although his ballads were sung by many international stars like Shirley Bassey and Sammy Davis Jr., he himself remained the quintessentially German chronicler of modern times.

Only weeks after his last concert, Juergens died on 21 December 2014 at the age of 80.

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