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Qntal “Palestinalied”


Really glad I decided to write about this song, I ended up learning quite a bit.  I chose this one for the College disc of my Autobiographical Box Set for a couple main reasons: 1) I’d always liked many elements of goth music, but Qntal put it all together in a way I hadn’t heard before and 2) this song was on probably the second most successful mixtape trade I remember (the most successful being a trans-Atlantic trade of unknown bands NovaSonic Down HyperSpace and Big Soap for two cassettes of Mogwai’s Peel sessions and several non-LP tracks before they were easily available in the US).  A college buddy’s younger goth sister was in town and my friend Greg and I chatted her up by talking about music, a method guaranteed not to work.  But I ended up volunteering to trade a side of 16 Horsepower while Greg added a side of Helium in exchange for her goth favorites.  I think we were mostly looking for things that sounded like Ataraxia’s song on a compilation we had, and Qntal was all that and better.  Another favorite was Siouxsie and The Banshee’s cover of Iggy Pop’s “The Passenger,” but Qntal owned the mix, hands down.

So that’s my story.  The song itself is way more interesting, as I found when I noticed the English translation of the lyrics at the YouTube lined above.  The last verse is this:

Christians, heathen, Jews, contending,
claim it as a legacy.
May God judge with grace unending
through his blessed Trinity.
Strife is heard on every hand:
ours the only just demand,
He will have us rule the land.

Hmm…are we getting into some nationalist politics here?  Well, maybe, but as I found when digging a tiny bit, Palästinalied was actually written by Walther von der Vogelweide, a poet of medieval Germany who lived at the time of the Crusades.  The lyrics and the melody were put together almost 800 years ago, and following some of the links on YouTube you can see many other versions of this song, from the Renaissance Faire-type revivals you might expect to heavy metal versions and more.  And while the song is clearly intended as propaganda for the Crusaders, it’s also considered quite open-minded for the era because it acknowledges Jewish and Muslim claims to the contested lands are legitimate.  I’m done with the research tonight, but I’m curious to know how this song is used by current artists?  Is it considered a nationalist, or even neo-Nazi, anthem?  On the other hand, maybe the relative tolerance is inspiring today?  Is it just a pretty traditional song?  Given the number of artists who covered it, there could easily be a bunch of contrasting intended meanings.  I’ll go with the pretty traditional song for now, and I love it with Qntal’s darkwave window dressing.

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