Marquee of the Beacon Theatre, New York, January 2013

This is how life works: I have to travel to New York to find out that German rockstar Herbert Grönemeyer, one of my all-time favorite musicians, will be performing in Chicago.

I just spent a whirlwind weekend in New York with my family to attend the bar mitzvah of a very good friend’s son. We stayed at the rather nice Hotel Beacon on Broadway on the Upper West Side as that was going to be close to the festivities. This hotel happens to be next to the Beacon Theatre, and when we arrived, my daughter mentioned seeing the name Grönemeyer next door as if he might be coming for a concert.

“Really?” I said, not quite believing her. Why, after all, would a German singer perform in New York? He’d never performed in the U.S. before, at least not to my knowledge. I always have to import his CDs from Germany, or buy them on and have them shipped.

Statue of Balto the Sled Dog, Central Park, New York, January 2013

Sunday morning my daughter and I squeezed in a walk through Central Park, our mission being to finally see the statue of sled dog Balto, which we did find, see above. On our way back we came up Broadway and, right before our hotel, the red headline on the marquee of the Beacon Theatre beamed “Herbert Grönemeyer.” I waited until it had rotated through all the upcoming shows to snap the picture. While standing there at the blustery street corner, I started having visions of returning to New York just to attend this concert. But would he even perform in German? Could I take hearing  my favorite songs sung in English? I decided, in my day dream, that I’d only travel to New York if he performed in German.

After all, his lyrics and especially his word plays, such as “Wir haben den Regen gebogen” from the hauntingly beautiful love song Der Weg, written after the death of his wife, are one big reason I love his work. My favorite song of his is still Bochum, his first big hit back in the early 1980s, a love song to his hometown in Germany’s rust belt. For the uninitiated, Grönemeyer has also acted, most famously as the lone surviving journalist in the well known German movie Das Boot.

When I did get around to looking up the New York concert online, what did I find? Grönemeyer rerecorded 20 of his most successful songs in English, is releasing an English CD in the U.S. in February, so will be performing in English (I’m still not thrilled about that), but he will be performing in Chicago first (at the Chicago Theatre on February 23)! No need to indulge in the extravagance of traveling for a concert, and since it’s local, I might just survive those songs in English. We shall see. In any case, I got tickets for me and two of my kids who don’t loathe him from all my thumping his songs in the car. In fact, they picked up some German that way. Grönemeyer’s renown song “Mensch” is called “Telefon, Gas, Elektrik” by my younger son because that phrase from the lyrics stuck in his mind from my playing it in the car so much.