The German Talking Heads!
It is only now, when they sound as they should have done, that we realise that the Hesselbach Family were the Talking Heads in this completely unlikely constellation. Now their music can be heard as the manifesto it was kind of meant to be, with its self-mocking refrain: stop making common sense!
More Songs About (Timber-Frame) Buildings and (Health-) Food
“Where else but in Tübingen would you find the mecca for a bunch of people with non- conformist, hippie, eco, alternative, political leanings? Where else are these horrible creatures so untouched by the reforms of the New Wave? Where else but here, with the perpetual tearing down of boundaries, are the conditions so good for the development of really imaginative creative processes?” wrote Hank Ewalds in an article about Tübingen’s post-punk scene in September 1982.
That was really late! In other places, the New German Wave was already over by that point. Some bands and labels had broken up. Others prepared for the break up, either moving towards music without vocals (electronic dance music), or styles unsuited to German lyrics (like sixties revival or garage rock). Those were the watermarks of the New German Wave, defined by pop theorist Diedrich Diederichsen as a specifically West German form, which was only interesting as long as the hippies didn’t understand it, because that imbued it with meaning and a sense of empowerment.
In autumn 1982, this hegemony only existed as a caricature, which the experience-oriented youth refused to even touch. Over time, punk survived by becoming anarcho-punk. The hopeless struggle against the state and police promised something akin to eternal life. The rest just moved on.
But in the countryside they were always a bit behind. Particularly in the south-west of Germany, where the quiet university town of Tübingen sits like a Disney version of a German province. Life there is shaped by students. In part due to influential professors of philosophy (Ernst Bloch!) and sociology, the late 1970s were synonymous with a left-leaning alternative scene. Particularly in the town centre, where the relevant parts of life took place. The so- called ‘New Social Movements’ were happening everywhere, with change underway in all institutions.