Tochter von Berlin

Tochter von Berlin
© 2012 Irene & Reed
Struggle, Strength, Reclamation
Lyrics by Leslie Benson, 2010

Ich bin nicht
wie andere Leute.
Ich bin nicht
wie alle anderen.

Ich allein, eine
Tochter von Berlin
und von

In Xenia geboren,
die Stadt des Teufelswind —
in Nürnberg gelebt —
keine Stadt fuer ein Kind.

Guck nur in mein Gesicht,
da kannst du alles sehen
von meinem Vaterland
und Mutterland zusammen.

Ich bin nur reich
wo du auch bist.
Ich bin nur reich
wo du auch bist.

Und hier bleibe ich
fuer alle die ich vermiss.
Ich bin nur reich
wo du auch bist.

Ich bin nur reich
wo du auch bist.
Ich bin nur reich
wo du auch bist.
(Ich bin nur reich
wo du auch bist).

English translation:
Daughter of Berlin

Lyrics by Leslie Benson, 2011

I’m not like other people.
I’m not like all the others.
(I’m) only myself, a daughter of Berlin,
and a daughter of America.

Born in Xenia,
the land of the devil winds,
(I) lived in Nürnberg,
not a land for any child.

Just look into my face;
there you’ll see everything —
from my Fatherland
and Motherland, all in one.

I’m only “wealthy” *
where you are.
I’m only wealthy
where you are.

And here I stay
for all those whom I miss.
I’m only wealthy
where you are.

I’m only wealthy
where you are.

* The “wealth” spoken of in the song refers to the wealth not of material goods in life but of the prosperity of having friends and family who love you.

Berlin (the poem)
© Leslie Irene Benson 2010

Ich bin nicht
wie andere Leute.
Ich bin nicht
wie alle anderen.
Ich bin eine Tochter von Berlin
und eine Tochter
von Amerika.

In Xenia geboren,
Die Stadt des Teufelswind —
In Nuernberg gelebt, —
Das Land für frohe Kinder.
Dann nach Dayton —
wo ich Bebe die Kleine Hexe
und Mimosa  vermisste.

Aber hier in meinem Vaterland
bin ich reich an Freunden,
wo du auch bist.
Meinem Vaterland
und Mutterland,
mein Vater

und meine Mutter,
danke für alles;
Ich liebe euch!

About the Song

Singer-songwriter Leslie I. Benson spent her early childhood with lop-sided pigtails in Nürnberg, Germany, learning about the two cultures of her German mother and her American genealogist father. In fact, her first words were in German, not English, until her toddler years. During second grade, Benson made the trek across seas to Ohio, where she grew up. But her interest in her German roots contributed greatly to her inquisitive nature and her affinity for family history.

Genealogists research their roots by interviewing family members about their past experiences and about relatives who have since passed on. Where and when were they born? To whom were they married? How many children did they have? Census collections in library archives can fill in details from there, as can birth, marriage and death certificates. But the best knowledge comes from oral tradition—stories passed along from generation to generation. Benson is lucky her dad did the hard work, as collecting those details can be challenging and time-consuming.

“I have a treasured painting given to my German grandmother during World War II by a man I believe may have been sent to a Nazi death camp,” Benson says. “The painting has chipped and faded over time. It’s a landscape of a few old houses in a country village. It’s a glimpse into a time during which my family lived and struggled, just as others did during the war. My ancestors were great farmers, teachers, and travelers. They had adventures and great loves, just as I have had in my life.”

Benson has written stories and poems in tribute to her ancestors. In the poem, “Berlin,” she thanks her parents for their worldliness and love. The poem inspired a song, “Tocher von Berlin,” which is being released on Irene & Reed’s second album, Struggle, Strength, Reclamation.

“I’m proud to know what’s behind me,” Benson says. “If I didn’t know, I’d feel disconnected. Knowing my roots has made me feel whole. I don’t envy the hardships my grandparents endured during the war, for I know they were probably much stronger than I would have been then. But I am grateful for their experiences and their achievements, which kept the family alive and prosperous.”

The music begins with Milner’s interpretation of the Beethoven and Liberace style of composition and a mostly instrumental chorus. Weeded throughout are verses in German, which Benson says she found challenging to sing due to the different placement of syllables and breaths, as well as overall pronunciation.

“Speaking German is much different than singing in the language, even though I’m fluent in conversational Deutsch,” Benson says. “Thank goodness my German mother is a willing editor of spelling and style!”

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