Amsterdam   as sung by Yvonne Werner-Mees

Ein Viertel Rotlicht
from the CD Ein Viertel Rotlicht
(The Red Light District)

Words of Amsterdam

Yvonne sings a German translation by Schneyder of Jacques Brel's French original. The English translation that follows is effectively a translation of a translation (professional translators throw up your arms in horror!) that Yvonne and I have worked out between us. We have made no attempt to reproduce the poetry of the original but it will give you some idea of what the words mean.

Tonight Amsterdam there`s a dream washed ashore,
And it thinks it can place its trust in you, Amsterdam.
Tonight Amsterdam, a hope rests in you
Like the flag on the mast at the windless pier.
Tonight Amsterdam when the boozing tastes good
A boy falls on his head and dies.
It will be wet tonight in Amsterdam.
Unknown to anyone, a sailor is conceived.

Tonight , Amsterdam, there is fish-fat
on the sailor's shirt after the third portion,
Yes, and when a tooth tears a halibut apart,
The boy just thinks about the way his girl bites.
Everyone eats furiously, everything here smells of fish
And a double whiskey trickles over the table.
And things get pretty loud. Just outside in the night
The skin gets too tight. A trousers seam splits.

Tonight, Amsterdam, comes the fever that roars.
Then a dance where the bodies rub.
The accordian howls, the floor is too small,
All lust for the woman who moans in her loneliness.
Everyone grabs one and gropes, everyone leaves one and laughs,
When the man who is playing must rest.
You take your darling, that opulent thing,
to finish, back at your seat where your brandies are.

Tonight, Amsterdam, the brandy drives everyone mad,
And they drink until dawn. Fare thee well, Amsterdam!
And to you Reeperbahn, fare thee well. To the brothel in Marseille,
To the booze in Calais, to the flesh of today.
To the women of the world, that are there for your pleasure,
For whom the rich at least have the goodness to pay.
And the dream, Amsterdam, it fades, it knows what`s coming next;
How it always ends, and you`ll soon understand,
Just a lousy cheat once again.
Tonight, Amsterdam, Amsterdam, Amsterdam...

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