Die Gedanken Sind Frei

Album: German Folk Songs (1229)


  • "Die Gedanken Sind Frei" is a very famous German folk song that is fairly well known in English, and due to the similarity of the two languages poses few challenges to non-German speakers, in sentiment if not in detail.

    The idea that "thoughts are free" is of course one that can be traced to the very beginnings of philosophy in the ancient world, although this particular song - in 3/4 time - can be dated more accurately.
  • Walther von der Vogelweide (c1170-1230) composed the song "Joch Sint Iedoch Gedanke Fri," but because his music was not written down we cannot know how much if anything the modern song owes to it melodically.

    Dietmar von Aist (presumably) had composed the song "Gedanke Die Sint Ledic Vri" - "Only Thoughts Are Free." About 1229, Freidank wrote: "Diu Bant Mac Nieman Vinden, Diu Mîne Gedanke Binden" - "This Band May No One Twine, That Will My Thoughts Confine."
  • Unsurprisingly, "Die Gedanken Sind Frei" has been a popular protest song in Germany; just as unsurprisingly it was banned by the Hitler régime.
  • There are at least two English translations which are consistent with the German original, including one by Tom Potter. The song is often sung in a mixture of both languages by English-speaking performers, whose ranks have included (predictably) Pete Seeger. >>
    Suggestion credit:
    Alexander Baron - London, England, for all above


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