Top 10 Oktoberfest Songs
October is officially upon us, and you know what that means — it's time for us non-German types to start paying attention to Oktoberfest in earnest and celebrate the Top 10 Oktoberfest Songs. Even though the annual event started in late September and concludes this coming Sunday (Oct. 7), we want to rock out and celebrate the annual arrival of our favorite beer-themed holiday. We decided to yank up our lederhosen and put together a list of proudly Teutonic classic rock songs. Eins! Zwei! Drei! It's time for rockmusik!
‘Fast as a Shark’
This hit from Accept's 1982 album, 'Restless and Wild,' found the band nodding to its German heritage by kicking off the song with a scratchy recording of a traditional children's tune titled 'Ein Heller und ein Batzen,' or 'A Farthing and a Penny.' Kind of a cool way to pay tribute to their homeland, and a nice contrast with the brutally loud three minutes and change that followed — but it raised some eyebrows with people who remembered that 'Ein Heller' had been a popular Nazi marching song. Whoops!
Well, it isn't in German. And technically, it wasn't even recorded in Germany — but hey, it's Lou Reed and the song (as well as the classic album it's from) is called 'Berlin,' so as far as we're concerned, you can play it loud while hoisting a foamy stein of your favorite brew. Just don't pay too much attention to those lovelorn lyrics, or you could end up crying in your beer.
Okay, so that gibberish that producer Jeff 'Mutt' Lange is spouting off in the intro isn't actually German (or any other language) — but enough people think it is that you pretty much had to know we were going to include Def Leppard's 'Rock of Ages' in our Top 10 Oktoberfest Songs. And anyway, after enough beers, even “Gunter glieben glauben globen” does start to sound pretty profound, right?
This is admittedly a tongue-in-cheek inclusion, but not completely; it bears mentioning that when the Ramones released this instant classic in 1976, we were still only a few decades removed from World War II, when German soldiers used the 'blitzkrieg' tactic to disrupt enemy lines — so when these young, scruffy New Yorkers reclaimed the word for the title of a two-minute shout-along anthem, it was a victory for the forces of truth, justice, and rock.
The leadoff single from U2's 'Achtung Baby' album, 'The Fly' served as the world's introduction to what the boys in the band had been up to with producer Daniel Lanois in Germany — in other words, as Bono put it, “the sound of four men chopping down 'The Joshua Tree.'”
Marty Balin's departure from the Jefferson Airplane certainly left a bit of a songwriting hole in the lineup. For proof we need look no further than the decidedly unserious 'Never Argue With a German If You're Tired or European Song,' which is basically just a litany of fake German-sounding lyrics (such as “Schticken in mine hachen”) that unravels over four-and-a-half minutes.
By the late '90s, the Scorpions had pretty much done it all — so for their 14th studio album, 'Eye II Eye,' they tried a few new things, including shifting to a more pop-friendly sound and recording their first (as well as last) song with lyrics written in their native tongue. The words might have sounded different to American listeners, but 'Du Bist So Schmutzig' translates to 'You Are So Dirty' — which is basically what the band had been screaming for nearly 35 years at that point.
This natural fit for our Top 10 Oktoberfest Songs was recorded in Berlin during the summer of '77. David Bowie's 'Heroes' album found him expanding upon the Krautrock-tinged sound of his 'Low' album, released earlier that year. Ultimately forming the second part of his 'Berlin trilogy' (which would grow to encompass 1978's 'Lodger'), 'Heroes' spawned a number of singles — including the title track, which Bowie re-recorded in French and German.
Inspired by the Beatles' decision to re-record some of their hits in German, Brian Wilson led the Beach Boys through a German version of 'In My Room,' dubbed 'Ganz Allein.' Unlike the Beatles' re-recordings, however, the Beach Boys' German detour was never released — it stayed in the vaults until 1983, when it finally saw the light of day as part of the 'Beach Boys Rarities' collection. Were we missing out on a classic all those years?
Recorded as part of a scheme by EMI's German subsidiary to amplify the Beatles' presence in that country and aided by the band's Hamburg history, 'Komm, Gib Mir Deine Hand' ('I Want to Hold Your Hand') was recorded as part of a single with 'Sie Liebt Dich' ('She Loves You') in January 1964. Eventually released as part of the 'Past Masters' compilation, it's a perfect addition to our Top 10 Oktoberfest Songs.