Rammstein Interpreted: Sonne
Rammstein have a fascination with fire; this is evident in their stage act and in lead singer Till Lindemann's licensure as a pyrotechnician. In the song "Sonne," German for "sun," Rammstein sing about the biggest fireball in our world, the sun. This song does not have as deep a meaning poetically as, say, "Mein Herz Brennt" or "Rosenrot," but the lyrics feature some pointed imagery. In addition their video puts a different spin on what "the sun," can be.
NB: All lyrics are the property of ©Rammstein.
Images of the Sun
The sun is used to describe a boxer. The chorus, then, is broken up with the boxer's countdown, the first time only until four, the other times all the way to nine before declaring, "aus," out. In between the countdown, the music turns majestic as Rammstein singer Till Lindemann announces, "Here comes the sun." He later adds that the sun is "the brightest star," and that it can "never fall from the sky." This is heady praise.
Here are other images of the sun:
- Everyone waits for "the light."
- The sun shines "out of my eyes."
- It does not set tonight.
- The sun shines "out of my hands."
- It "breaks out of the fists," and "lays down hotly on the face."
These descriptions of the power of the sun in a boxer makes him seem both revered and feared, as any boxer wants to be. In fact, at the very beginning of the song, Lindemann warns, "Fürchtet euch, fürchtet euch nicht," "Be afraid, don't be afraid." Celarly he is speaking first to the boxer's opponent then to the audience. However later, he warns, "Kann verbrennen, kann euch blenden," "It can burn, it can blind you all." The sun-as-boxer is not benevolent even to his followers. In the final verse, though, Lindemann explains what is really going to happen: the sun will come down "painfully on your chest," you will lose your balance, and go "hard to the floor," "Lässt dich hart zu Boden gehen." At that point, the whole world will count to ten.
Song for a Boxer
Whcih song would be better for a boxer's entrance?
The Music and Backstory
Musically, the song starts with a slow build-up, the countdown, before driving in with a pounding beat. It moves between this hammering, with Lindemann growling, to the grandiose chorus. We can well picture a boxer coming down the aisle and entering the ring -- before his fists start beating down on the opponent. Rammstein have captured the pageantry before brutality perfectly.
In fact, Rammstein stated that this song was written at the behest of the Ukrainian boxing brothers, Vitaly and Wladimir Klitschko. They had wanted a song for their entrance into the ring. Till Lindemann stated in an interview with a Swedish music program that the Klitschkos turned the song down. Rammstein guitarist Paul Landers stated in an interview with a German music magazine that the brothers thought the song was "too hard;" they later chose to use "Simply the Best," by Tina Turner.
I cannot refrain from interjecting my opinion on that point. I understand fully that Rammstein does not make pop music, the type that will offend no one. However, if a man has chosen to compete in arguably the most brutal sport around, perhaps only superseded by MMA, how can a song with a driving beat that compares a boxer to the sun be "too hard"? Boxing is "too hard." "Sonne," has the potential to strike fear in the hearts of your opponents and awe in the hearts of your fans. "Simply the Best," is a cliché, and I doubt attendees at a boxing match can even hear it above the general melee.
Luckily for Rammstein fans the band kept the song. Not only is it a regular addition to their concert setlist, but they released the song as a single with its attendant video. The video heralds the masterpiece.
The Sonne Video
For the video, in typical Rammstein fashion, the band took a fairytale and changed it to suit their needs. The video is based on the story of "Snow White and the Seven Dwarves," with the band as six of the seven dwarves. However, they are not made up like any Sleepy or Dopey; these are six young, heavily muscled men who just happen to be mining at the behest of their over-large, tyrannical female boss, a princess named Snow White. Were they venting their irritation at the Klitschkos perhaps?
In any case, the video starts out with the band down in the mines. Till Lindemann uses a sledgehammer on the rock face while drummer Christoph Schneider raises two mallets high and uses the rock floor as drums. The rest of the band members are likewise occupied. The images coincide with the pounding beat.
When the song moves to the chorus, "The sun comes," and we see they are now talking about Snow White. She is cruel boss who punches Schneider in the face after he gifts her with a gold nugget. She also requires the dwarf miners to attend to her hair while polishing her apples. She also, well, spanks them when they are naughty. (Rammstein play puckishly in this arena regularly.)
However, Snow White gets her just desserts when she later snorts the gold dust like cocaine and promptly overdoses in the bathtub. Rammstein-as-dwarves discover her and immediately prepare her burial, in Snow White fashion, in a clear coffin. They carry her up the hillside to lay her to rest under her apple tree. They circle around her, looking properly mournful but also rather philosophical. Their lives can go on without Snow White.
As they turn to go, however, an apple falls from the tree, shattering Snow White's glass coffin. She catches the apple and furiously frees herself from her shroud. The next-to-last scene shows Till Lindemann staring at her with a look of incredulity on his face, as in, "Are you kidding me?!" When he was speaking to the Swedish interviewer about the song's rejection, he looked philosophical; however, I wonder if he didn't look more like his dwarf-self at the end of the video when he first heard the new. Seriously?
Rammstein, as performing artists, do not disappoint when they play this song live either. They have played the song live 2001, for the promotional tour of the CD on which it is featured, Mutter. From then through the Liebe ist für Alle Da tour, the song made up their encore list along with "Ich Will." For the Made in Germany tour, though, they used the song for its original purpose, for pageantry in an entrance. At the beginning of the show during this tour, Rammstein marched down an aisle and across a bridge suspended high above the audience while holding Rammstein and the host country's flags. Kitted out as warriors, they marched with appropriate
solemnity. When they got to the stage, though, they stand before the crowd, highlighted from behind by strong industrial lights while bassist Oliver Riedel lights a fire with a torch. With a hit from Richard Kruspe's guitar and a growled "eins" from Lindemann, the pageantry is over. The Rammstein concert has begun.
Songs on Mutter
Mein Herz brennt
My heart burns
Fire freely (at will)!