Der Kommissar by After the Fire
by Robert Mishou
In 1981, I had just moved to Frankfurt, Germany and, at first, my radio was my best friend. There was one American radio station who played Casey Kasem’s American Top 40 every Sunday from 2-6 in the afternoon. I listened to that show religiously, but also experimented with some German radio stations. During one of these forays, I heard a song with one of the coolest guitar riffs I had heard. The song was completely in German so I could not understand a word, but I did pick up on the artist: Falco. Fast forward to 1983 and I hear that guitar riff again, only this time I could understand the lyrics. After the Fire covered (and translated) Falco’s song and hit #5 on the AT 40 with “Der Kommissar.” My wife, who is a high school German and Spanish teacher, tells me that the translations is not bad, understanding that they had to change things to have it make sense in English. A ‘kommissar’ is a police chief or government officer and in this song he is on the trail of a couple who is constantly trying to escape his notice. The lyric that remains in German, “Alles klar, Herr Kommissar?” is translated into “Everything OK, officer?” They know he is chasing them and they are feigning innocence. When you watch the video look for the waiter – that’s Falco! This song has legs. Not only is it recorded in German by Falco and in an English translation by After the Fire, but the music is also used by Laura Branigan in her song “Deep in the Dark” (yes, I am a closet Branigan fan). Of course, we all know that Falco will have his own hit “<a href="http://” target=”_blank”>Rock Me Amadeus” in just a few years – can I count him as a One Hit Wonder for that song? I am including links to Falco’s German version, After the Fire’s English version, and Branigan’s song that uses the music.