David Bowie in Bertolt Brecht's Baal EPWritten by: Trad., adapted by Bertolt Brecht, Dominic Muldowney
Recorded: 25, 26 November 1981
Producers: David Bowie, Tony Visconti
Arranger/conductor: Dominic Muldowney

Released: 13 March 1982

David Bowie: vocals
Eckehard Scholl: piano
Bernd Machus: bandoneon
Ingo Cramer: guitar
Michael Bucher: tuba
Thomas Hoffmann: drums
Erwin Milzkott: flute
Joachim Welz: clarinet
David Kreitner: alto saxophone
Axel-Glenn Müller: tenor saxophone
René Waintz: trumpet
Ralf Armbruster: trombone
Hans-Joachim Glas: concert master
Uwe Weniger: viola
Rolf Becker: cello
Ulrich Berggold: contrabass

Available on:
A New Career In A New Town (1977–1982)

‘Remembering Marie A’, a translation of Bertolt Brecht’s ‘Erinnerung An Die Marie A’, is the second song on David Bowie’s Baal EP.

Brecht wrote the lyrics during a train journey to Berlin in 1920. It originally had the working title ‘Sentimental Song no. 1004’, and is believed to have been written for Marie Rosa Amann, a young woman from Augsburg whom Brecht had met at an ice cream parlour.

Brecht combined the words, now retitled ‘Erinnerung An Die Marie A’, with a melody based on a traditional 19th century French song, ‘Tu Ne M’amais Pas’, also known as ‘Lost Happiness’. Brecht was more familiar with the popular German version, ‘Verlorenes Glück’.

‘Erinnerung An Die Marie A’ was performed in public a number of times by Brecht, and it was first published in 1924. Although it appeared in various stage productions at that time, Brecht did not intended it to be part of the Baal play.

Nonetheless, the piece worked effectively in the BBC’s 1982 television adaptation, which starred David Bowie in the title role. ‘Remembering Marie A’ helped establish Baal’s immoral and dispassionate character, by depicting him failing to remember the face of the girl from a past sexual conquest, but able to recall a cloud passing overhead.

The release

Bowie intended the Baal EP to be his final release for RCA, his label throughout the 1970s. In keeping with low commercial expectations, it reached number 29 on the UK singles chart.

It was released as a 7″ gatefold edition, with a sleeve containing copious notes on the music and musicians, as well as a brief biography of Brecht.

The 7″ EP was released in the UK and Canada. There was also a 12″ vinyl version issued in the US, Canada, Germany, France, Japan, Greece, Spain and Italy, and a cassette edition in the US and Canada.

The full EP was reissued as a digital download in 2007, and as part of the Re:Call 3 compilation in the 2017 box set A New Career In A New Town (1977–1982). It was reissued again in June the following year on 10″ vinyl, with the original artwork reproduced.

Lyrics

It was a day in that blue month September
Silent beneath the plum trees’ slender shade
I held her there
My love, so pale and silent
As if she were a dream that must not fade

Above us in the shining summer heaven
There was a cloud my eyes dwelled long upon
It was quite white and very high above us
Then I looked up
And found that it had gone

And since that day, so many moons in silence
Have swum across the sky and gone below
The plum trees surely have been chopped for firewood
And if you ask, how does that love seem now

I must admit, I really can’t remember
And yet I know what you are trying to say
But what her face was like, I know no longer
I only know I kissed it on that day

As for the kiss, I long ago forgot it
But for the cloud that floated in the sky
I know that still and shall forever know it
It was quite white and moved in very high

It may be that the plum trees still are blooming
That woman’s seventh child may now be there
And yet that cloud had only bloomed for minutes
When I looked up it vanished on the air