Der Kommissar

Album: Der Kommissar (1982)
Charted: 47 5
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Songfacts®:

  • The original version was recorded in German by the Austrian singer Falco, who had a #1 hit in the US in 1986 with "Rock Me Amadeus." His version of "Der Kommissar" was a dance-floor favorite in Europe, but unlikely to crack the American charts, so Falco encouraged English-speaking bands to record this song so he could make inroads in the States.

    After The Fire was a British foursome whose most notable member was former Yes synth-man Peter Banks. They released three fairly successful albums in England before their label, CBS Records, issued the Der Kommissar album in America. The title track became the group's only hit - their follow up was a song called "Dancing in the Shadows," which topped out at #85 in the US.
  • "Kommissar" is German for "Government Official." The song is about a couple on the run from the law. Every time they happen to be in public, "Der Kommissar" shows up. Hence the phrase, "Alles klar? Der Kommissar," which means "Everything OK, officer? >>
    Suggestion credit:
    Arturo - Houston, TX
  • Laura Branigan put out an English language variant, "Deep in the Dark" on her album Branigan. Bill Bowersock wrote the lyrics to her version. After The Fire's take on the song used lyrics that were basically a translation of Falco's original words.
  • The After The Fire version was used in the 2017 movie Atomic Blonde, which is mostly set in Berlin (German versions of "Major Tom (I'm Coming Home)" and "99 Luftballons" were used in the film). Other movies to use the song include:

    Skateland (2010)
    The Wedding Singer (1998)
    Grandview, U.S.A. (1984)

    TV series to use it include:

    Family Guy ("German Guy" - 2011)
    Friends ("The One Where the Stripper Cries" - 2004)

Comments: 23

  • Pay Attention To The History from The UsaSo many comment overlook a critical element when trying to credit and interpret this song. Falco (Johann Hölzel) was a primary writer of the song and was the initial performer. After the Fire, who only did an roughly translated English language version, only covered it. Falco had stated in a number of interviews that is was about cocaine usage, which was a prominent component of the culture he existed inat the time. Dig as deep as you like, but the primary source stated the truth, all other arguments are moot.
  • Everyone from Everywhere This song is about the buying and usage of cocaine by the youth of all classes in Eastern Europe. Der Kommissar is just a nickname for Cocaine. Just like “Mary Jane” or “Weed” is for Marijuana. It was said there was nothing above or better than the high one gets using cocaine, hence the name Der Kommissar (a Communist party official assigned to a military unit to teach party principles and policies and to ensure party loyalty). Until the late 1970’s, most Europeans (West and East) used Heroine and/or Hashish as their drug of choice. This was due to the prolific importations from Afghanistan/Pakistan into through Russia and into Europe. Joe and Jill are the nicknames given Heroine and Hashish and the ”missing old friends” is a direct reference to these two drugs. Starting in the late 1970’s and into the early 1980’s, Cocaine started to become widely available to Europeans. Cocaine was seen as an American party drug that was quickly taken up by the youths of Eastern Europe under Communist rule. This song in a sense is a short story about going to get Cocaine before going out to party with friends. The song also hints to the physical characteristics people have when using Cocaine. Climbing up the wall (anxiety), talking when no one is listening (not paying attention), paranoia (Don’t turn around) and dilated pupils are all mention along with the addictive nature of Cocaine (The more you live, the faster you will die).

    It was common knowledge in the Euro music industry of the day that Falco had an intimate relationship with Cocaine.
  • 80sdude from Not Chicago, Illinois, Usa I'm pretty sure they're saying "Ja" (yes, yeah) not "cha" ... and even I knew Der Komissar is specifically a reference to the communist Stasi in E Germany/ E Berlin. Better watch out cause in 2020 the same is coming to YOUR town with Covid commissars and secret police to "track" your exposure to a flu virus.
  • Andiconda from TexasI never knew what the song was about so thanks for sharing , but to me a good song is a good song dosent matter what genre it is . This a song that will have you singing "Dont turn around uh oh....and sure brings back memories.
  • John from UsaIt's a little more complicated than the people saying it's about Cocaine. Kommissar is a Russian word that referred to political authorities that enforced loyalty to the Communist Party. Those officers also existed in places like East Germany that had been taken over by the communists.
    So the song is about a somewhat wild and reckless young woman who's into the "party scene", using drugs and so on, but it's all under the watchful eye of the state. You could say, it's a kind of a snapshot of a slice of life from behind the Iron Curtain.
    The young people are yearning for freedom, in perhaps self-destructive ways.
  • Bill from SacramentoEveryone here is essentially missing the boat. Yes, the song is about cocaine. But you have to put this song into historical context. There was a great social upheaval taking place in Europe when this song came out. The term "Der Kommissar" was applied to the East German Stasi and the youth in both east and west Germany were rebelling against the damn wall Stalin ordered up in Berlin and Communism in general. You just didn't dare speak of issues like this in the Eastern Bloc, because people who expressed these types of freedoms often "vanished" in the dead of night if you get my drift. Artists like Falco, though he was born in Austria, grew up with this east vs. west mentality and the threat of Soviet tanks rolling through western Europe was always on the minds of a great many people. This song may refer to cocaine usage, but it was a protest song. A protest for freedom of speech. That's why Falco, in my opinion, asks "Alles klar, Herr Kommissar," or "are you OK with this? A song that proclaimed, we have this problem too. It was quite ground-breaking for the period, but only if you put it into historical context.
  • Jodie from XxGreat song about cocaine.
  • Shattered from New Orleans, LaKeith is right on the money. The song is essentially about a party girl who likes cocaine, hanging out, and avoiding the cops. The Falco version is a little more overt with the cocaine and drug references. In the German-language video, Falco gestures to his nose after the "sugar is sweet" line. He also says in English, "You wanna buy some stuff, man?" Lyrical mistakes on those silly sites are like genetic mutations--once the song is entered wrong, the incorrect version is simply passed along, forever.
  • Phil from YeppoonI think you'll find it's actually "Alles klar, Herr Kommissar?" ie "Mr" not "the".
  • Roman from Modesto, CaThe Peter Banks in ATF was not the Peter Banks from YES (who played guitar). In fact, ATF's Banks changed his name so he wouldn't be confused with the Yes guitarist.
  • Keith from Papillion, NeThe song is about cocaine--meeting up with others in public places, using cocaine, and looking out for the police. That is, "Don't look now, a cop's over there." Unfortunately, most lyric sites (as usual) mess up the biggest lyrical clue to the meaning of the song: where the ATF lyrics are "that her nose had told the story", the sites say "that I know she told the story." Listen for other references to cocaine: 'snow' and 'sugar' are slang for cocaine, along with lines such as "the more you live the faster you will die" and "every night is bright she got..."
  • Eric from Bend, OrI hadn't noticed that about the counting. I also think it's interesting that in the ATF version, they borrow the phrase "du bist sweet" from Falco's version, when a majority of the song is in English.
  • Paul from Winthrop, MaEver noticed that ATF starts the song by counting in German and sings In English,and Falco starts the song counting in English and sings in German?
  • Michael from San Diego, CaClassic 80's song that take me right back to high school!
  • Matt from Fort Worth, TxDoes anone know what this song is talking about???
  • Lance from Pittsburgh, PaCome on everybody, if you like 80's music, this gotta be in your top 10!
  • Johnny from Los Angeles, CaC'mon guys who doesn't like German rap/funk?
  • Kendall from Thomasville, Gadon't get me wrong though I still like it
  • Kendall from Thomasville, Gaeven though this song is extremely catchy, i have to say that by today's standards this song is extremely lame lol, I don't blame the VH fans for flaming them
  • Limmt from Colmar, FranceThe translation of Falco's version of "Der Kommissar" (original version, more than 7 million of copies sold) was written by Falco himself ho gave it to ATF.
  • Mick from London, EnglandATF toured with ELO & Queen before Van Halen. Although mis-matched with VH it sold the band a lot of records.
    A complete band history and news can be found at www.afterthefire.co.uk
  • Tim from Hendersonville, TnAfter The Fire opened for Van Halen in 1982 when they (VH) were on their tour supporting the Diver Down album. The crowd's reaction to ATF, as you might expect, was not exactly positive.
  • Kei from Salem, OrIronically enough, After The Fire had broken up BEFORE this song became a hit single, due to what they perceived as a lack of popularity.
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