For notifications of new posts on language, translation, energy and culture, you can subcribe to our blog, with comments and discussion of articles very welcome on our social media accounts.
Rock concert in a cabbage

How cabbages rocked the world – the Krautrock explosion

Have rocking cabbages changed modern pop? What is the sound of a cabbage singing, or a broccoli beat? In the German language Kraut means simply cabbage or herb, but in the early 1970s the English speaking world enthusiastically imported the sound of Krautrock. Critics of the day gave this new avant-garde West German genre the ironic name Krautrock and the name stuck, and so did the music, growing to become hugely influential. Did the critics mean to say this was vegetable music, like that of the Austrian Vegetable Orchestra? Not really, because since the end of the First World War Kraut has been a pejorative term in English for a German, supplanting earlier terms and possibly reflecting German fondness for eating sauerkraut, so the Krautrock neologism served both to describe and also mock experimental West German electro pop music of the 1960s and 1970s.

Concert with cabbageA younger German generation of the postwar era were inspired by the demonstrations of 1968 and seeking to create new music – unlike traditional German music such as Schlager and the dominant Anglo-American rock and roll of the era. This music fused psychedelia, jazz and electronic music, and was initially known as Kosmische Musik, or cosmic music. Perhaps the best known of these bands are Can, Neu!, Tangerine Dream, and perennially popular Kraftwerk, with their Autobahn perhaps becoming a bit of an earworm. Krautrock soon proved highly influential outside West Germany, perhaps starting with the the band Roxy Music in the UK in 1972, which featured Brian Eno and Bryan Ferry, and in the present day the term Krautrock is widely used and accepted as no longer being offensive.

A form of government featuring rule by cabbages would of course be a krautocracy, and in fact West Germany was led by Chancellor Helmut Kohl from 1982 to 1998. Kohl actually means cabbage, and Helmut Kohl’s period of office was far greater than the brief tenure of UK prime minister Liz Truss in 2022, who was unfavourably compared to a wilting lettuce, and did not outlast one.

0 replies

Leave a Reply

Want to join the discussion?
Feel free to contribute!

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *