Which band sang the song Lost Cause

Six million Germans

Daniel Kahn is at the microphone. He wears a black suit, hat, beard. He looks alienated at his audience. After each chorus of “Nakam” (revenge) he adds: “You might say it isn’t right”, it’s not right to think that way.

“I don't like to play the song anymore.” The 32-year-old American has lived in Berlin for five years. His German is getting better and the number of fans is growing. His third album with the band “The Painted Bird” has just been released: “Lost Causes”. His tour of Germany will begin on January 20th in the Festsaal Kreuzberg. And then the audience wants him to play the song again. “Regardless of whether Germans or Jews, many like it for the wrong reasons, such as revenge. The song alienates people. ”And meanwhile also himself. Daniel Kahn sighs. A few days later he is sitting at his desk in a T-shirt and jeans. "Yes, it's alienation, I know ...", alienation in the sense of Bertolt Brecht. The dramatist already inspired him in his theater studies. Exaggeration should make you think, "Six million Germans", so far the alienation effects have worked very well for him. The Yiddish language, in which Daniel Kahn sings alongside the English, sounds familiar and yet strange to German ears. “Dumai”, the song “Think about” evokes sensitive images. “Oif der Moyer steyt a Zelner”, a soldier stands on the wall. At first slowly, in a heavy beat rhythm with spoken and group singing, then faster and faster, you hear a song about borders, “oifn Land und in die mentshn”, today in “Yisroel und Falestina”. Daniel Kahn lives in Berlin-Neukölln in the middle of an Arab-Turkish neighborhood. The street's namesake, Karl Marx, can also be found in his apartment. The communist manifesto is on the wooden shelf next to Yiddish poetry and Leonard Cohen. Old, new, Arabic, Jewish, German, he mixes on principle. Kahn stands up. Completely different than on stage, where he seems to disappear behind an accordion and megaphone, he looks big and powerful in his room. He runs his hand over his narrow face and says that alienation will come one way or another. He thought about it a lot for the play “Waiting for Adam Spielmann”. From February he will play the leading role in Ballhaus Naunynstraße in Berlin. "There is this idea of ​​the abstract 'Jew' as the 'other'. But in this world more and more groups are becoming strangers, guest workers, exiles or foreigners. And these groups are never really accepted in the majority society, ”says Kahn,“ because they carry the germ of alienation. ”Daniel Kahn comes from Detroit, the Jewish reform community of his parents shared the neighborhood with Iranian exiles. His mother, a kindergarten teacher, still lives there. His father died last year. Now his voice falters. “In my eulogy I understood what a large part of me he is. He taught me the value of songs. It's the best way to preserve ideas. A perfect communication unit to convey feelings, tell stories, remember ... ”His parents and Detroit turned the first moments of alienation into a seed of inspiration. After graduation, he applied the technique in New Orleans in the blues and theater world. Then came Klezmer music in New York and, with Yiddish, Germany. Here he takes the life abroad one step further. And is it strange yourself? His dark eyes look thoughtfully out the window. He says quietly that sometimes there are moments when he gets caught up in nationalistic patterns of perception. And maybe then he would be more sensitive with Germans than with others. He was recently invited to the radio as a Yiddish speaker. Everyone there loved him. They said how great it was to meet such cool Jews like him. "I felt like a Yiddish souvenir!"

Most of the time he feels understood. Like many of the Jews of his generation, in Berlin he always thinks about the past. The war, the persecution, the Holocaust. And in connection with the life before the break, the life of relatives who lived in the same houses that they inhabit again today, alienation arises and, at the same time, an eye for home in a foreign country.