Kraftwerk’s Autobahn

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Kraftwerk’s Autobahn

Kraftwerk's Autobahn

Electro Pop

Welcome to electro pop and the feel of driving on a motorway.  The German electronic band, which translates into “power station” in English, formed in 1969 in Düsseldorf. They were Ralf Hütter, Florian Schneider, working with a changing lineup of musicians. For this song, the personnel included Klaus Röder, and Wolfgang Flür. The song was composed by Hütter and Schneider in collaboration with Emil Schult on the lyrics. Schult also painted the album cover of the motorway on a sunny day.  The song was released in a 22-minute version for Kraftwerk’s  1974 album titled Autobahn. It was also edited to a 3:28 single for radio play, which was released in 1975. It was the first international hit in this electronic genre. “Autobahn” went to  #25 on the U.S Billboard Hot 100, #11 in the U.K., #9 in Germany, #12 in Canada and The Netherlands,  and #4 in New Zealand. It was within the Top 30 in Australia Austria, Belgium,  and South Africa.

Of note on the song is the instrumentation used that went on to influence electronic popular and dance music. There are the use of electronic percussion pads, a Moog bass sound with an added analogue echo, phrasing on synthesizers to play the chords, use of a vocoder on some of the vocals, and use of a motorik 4/4 drum beat in the song’s final section. There are also acoustic elements in the song, including guitar and flute.

Here are the lyrics to “Autobahn” by Kraftwerk:

[In German]

Wir fahren fahren fahren auf der Autobahn

Vor uns liegt ein weites Tal

Die Sonne scheint mit Glizerstrahl
Die Fahrbahn ist ein grauex Band

Weisse Streifen, gruener Rand
Jetzt schalten wir ja das Radio an

Aus dem Lautsprecher klingt es dann:

Wir fahren auf der Autobahn
[Translation into English]

We are driving on the Autobahn

In front of us is a wide valley
The sun is shining with glittering rays

The driving strip is a grey track
White stripes, green edge

We are switching the radio on
From the speaker it sounds:

We are driving on the Autobahn

For More 70s Tunes

The System has daily featured music from all sorts of genres of 1970s music. You’re welcome to listen to any of the 40+ selections in The System. Thank you for stopping by. Hope you enjoyed “Autobahn” by Kraftwerk.

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