Traditional bluegrass in German

It is becoming more and more common for bluegrass artists in non-English speaking parts of the world to write and sing songs in their native tongues.

In the earliest days of bluegrass reaching beyond North America, most students of the music focused on what was being recorded here in the States, often memorizing lyrics phonetically with no real knowledge of English.

As non-US bluegrass has matured, it seems like a natural progression for original music to be composed in their own languages, though perhaps the majority of European and Asian bands continue to perform primarily in English.

Here’s a new video from The Wortmann Brothers, who write and perform in both English and their native German, creating new songs from their own imaginations, and reworking popular melodies into new stories. Ei und Hering (Egg and Fish) is set to the familiar tune of No Mother Or Dad.


Ulrich Wortman, who plays banjo in the video, provided this translation of the chorus:

Das neue Jahr wird richtig gut
The next year will be coming really good

du schaffst das ohne Selbstbetrug
you can do it without self-deception

dazu trinkst du dann noch ein Bier
and by the way you are drinking a beer

und Ei und Hering stehen vor dir.
and egg and fish stand in front of you.

He details the story thusly:

“Your farm has burned down. You remember this while hearing young people shouting and drinking. Now you are working as a butcher in a biomarket, while in front of you the Porsche driver is telling you how hard live is.”

Sounds like bluegrass to me!

He also shared a video of them singing in English on a clever song (and concept) called Alien Morning.


We’ll have a review soon from Sweden’s Spinning Jennies, who write and perform in Swedish, often utilizing native folk melodies and stories.


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About the Author

John Lawless

John had served as primary author and editor for The Bluegrass Blog from its launch in 2006 until being folded into Bluegrass Today in September of 2011. He continues in that capacity here, managing a strong team of columnists and correspondents.