Sometimes there is this song, and it's in your head, and it just won't leave, and you wonder what it's trying to tell you. Often it's a specific song, that does this to you over and over again. You may not even remember the exact tune, or even the precise lyrics, but you are haunted by whisps of music and the song's story.

For me this is a dialect song by Mani Matter, possibly the most famous and well-liked Swiss singer-song writer (at least by the German speaking Swiss). Unfortunately, like many good ones, he died far too young in a car accident. I will at some stage node his bio, however, today, I just want to share this song, that's been haunting me forever since I first heard it as a child.


violin case

Us emene lääre Gygechaschte
Ziet er sys Inschtrumänt
Und dr Chaschte verschwindet

from his empty violin case
he pulls his instrument
and the case disappears

Und er spilt ohni Bogen
Es Lied ohni Wort
Und er treit e Zilinder
Doch drunder ke Chopf
Und ke Hals und ke Lyb
Keni Arme, no Bei
Das het er alles verloren im Chrieg

and he plays without bow
a song with no words
and he wears a top hat
but below there's no head
and no neck and no body
no arms, no legs
he has lost them all in the war

Und so blybt no sys Lied
Nume das isch no da
Denn ou e Zilinder
Het er nie kene gha

and all that remains is his song
only that still remains
because also a top hat
he has never owned

(Lyrics are by Mani Matter, translation by me.)

The lyrics are in Bernese (Bern-German), so don't be surprised when your German knowledge doesn't help you understand anything here :)