I hate prompts like this: You’re asked to recite a poem (or song lyrics) from memory — what’s the first one that comes to mind? Does it have a special meaning, or is there another reason it has stayed, intact, in your mind?
This would be the perfect time to recite all my gathered knowledge from my years of being a thrall to the study of English literature and poetry, and you’d think I’d start, with appropriately pretentious actor’s heroics, to belt out “TYGER, TYGER! BURNING BRIGHT!”, or “ONCE UPON A MIDNIGHT DREARY”, or “SHALL I COMPARE THEE TO A SUMMER’S DAY BECAUSE THE 12TH OF JULY WASN’T BAD!” and shit, but what is the first thing that comes to mind?
It’s not a poem. I don’t even like poems, unless they’re funny.
It’s not a song. Okay, it is a song, but not exactly a good one. It’s not even one of my beloved 80s anthems. It’s not Girls Just Wanna Have Fun, which would be obvious. It’s not Everybody Wants to Rule the World, which I keep singing to myself at the most inappropriate moments. It’s not even Automatic Man, which I have legit listened to 127 times this week alone.
Nope. If you’d ask me right now, or any time really, to recite a poem or song… if I was at a party and someone were to say “Hey, this girl here knows a lot of things that rhyme, let’s hear one”… if I was an ambassador of Earth at an intergalactic conference and aliens would ask me to recite a piece of Earth poetry…
I would be like, “Wer hat bloß den Käse zum Bahnhof gerollt!”
You probably have no idea what the hell I’m talking about, which is probably for the better. Because this song… it’s a German Schlager from 1927. And it sticks in your head like crazy glue. And because I want you to suffer as much as anyone who ever has to hear me sing, here, have some audio:
Like most German onestep songs from the Twenties, this one is dumb as hell. It has about six lines of text and it’s really stupid, but it’s so funny.
The text itself goes like this:
Wer hat bloß den Käse zum Bahnhof gerollt?
Das ist ‘ne Frechheit! Wie kann man so was tun?
Denn er war noch nicht verzollt!
Die Polizei hat sich hinein gelegt,
Jetzt ist sie böse sehr und grollt,
Weil man hat einen Käse zum Bahnhof gerollt!
Here, I’ll do a rough translation for all you non-German speakers (but it’s much funnier in German!):
Whoever rolled the cheese to the station?
The nerve of it! How can you do something like that?
Because it was not yet cleared!
The police have investigated,
Now they’re really angry and resentful,
Because someone rolled a cheese to the station.
This is literally the dumbest shit ever, and yet… the music is insanely catchy, for one. And for another, the mental image I have of a bunch of men in 1920s suits and hats rolling a giant swiss through the city to the next train station in the dead of night just to fuck with the police is too good to let go. If you want to majorly troll someone, this is what you do.
(And it’s not too far from reality either, because apparently once a year hundreds of people gather in a small English village to roll cheeses down a hill. Of course they look much classier doing it than a bunch of Germans, because duh, it’s the English.)
For good or for worse, if you ask me for the first more or less rhyming thing that pops into my head, this is it. Also for good or for worse, this is by far not the most inane song text the Twenties had to offer. I mean, just try Tante Paula liegt im Bett und isst Tomaten or the classic Heinrich, wo greifst du denn hin?.
(No, you don’t want to know why I know so many stupid songs that are about as old as my granny.)