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“Woltaehr“ – sounds (almost) like the first name Walter – and when pronounced the French way it almost becomes Voltaire! When somebody started using it as a nickname for me I decided I wanted to know who Voltaire really was. It’s been a revelation!

I studied the great French classics at university; Molière (17th century), Jean-Jacques Rousseau (18th c., like Voltaire), Jean-Paul Sartre (20th c,)... so I then took the opportunity to read the real François-Marie Arouet, called Voltaire (1694 – 1778) just to see what his writings, his thoughts and his wit were like. What a surprise! He’s really someone worth studying, even today! His influence soon became a part of my song writing. We recorded a couple of titles dealing with him, what he said, what he wrote, to honour his patronage, as we had also used his name with mine for the band (French–German): Voltaire–Woltaehr. You will also see my name written as Woltähr where the ´ae´ becomes ä (same sound).

Apart from that, my music owes a lot to Celtic traditional music, not so much from Ireland, Scotland, or Wales, but from Brittany (Bretagne)! The far west of France, of Europe, with contacts to Cornwall, Devon, and Wessex, but different from those for its very prolific circle dance culture. («La Cornouaille» is a landscape in the middle of la Bretagne, too. And the church-ridden island of the Mont St. Michel, Normandy, has a counterpart across the Channel named St. Michael’s Mount, Pensance.)


Alan Stivell, the Breton singer and Celtic harp player, has dealt with the musical cultures of Britain and Ireland, too. So I muse in what is left , or has been rediscovered, in the Wild West of Europe, musically, and I just feel like I have to bring my Celtic Moselle area back home to the folks and friends on the Atlantic Ocean shores. “I am a man swept ashore by the sea…“ (dä Mann vom Miär, CD 2003).


And the songs of Bob Dylan! Just another strong influence for the courageousness, the idée fixe you must have in mind when doing such things. Dylan was inspired, when he was young, not only by Woody Guthrie (from Oklahoma, USA), but also by Anglo-Irish tunes he must have adapted (or adopted?) from the music of the immigrants to America. “Blowin’ in the Wind“ (1962) is said to be borrowed, as to the music, from “No More Auction Block“, “Masters of War“ (1963) sounds a bit like “Nottamun Town“, “The Death of Emmett Till“ (1963) is a prolongation of the melody of “The House of the Rising Sun“, yeah! “Farewell“ (1963) is “The Leaving of Liverpool“ (Oh it’s fare thee well, my darling true…), “Farewell, Angelina“ (1965) is another Country favourite with strange new lyrics à la Dylan. And the stunning performance of “Blind Willie McTell“ (1983) is clearly indebted to the traditional “St. James Infirmary“.


I did my university exam (in 1977) on the song poetry of Bob Dylan. With respect to some verses of Arthur Rimbaud (F), T. S. Eliot (GB), and Bertolt Brecht (D). It is really phenomenal the way Dylan fused it all into something new, doing it his way. I got to know Bob “Dylan“ Zimmerman (with ancestors from Odessa, Ukraine, on the Black Sea) through his lyrics and musical gifts, and became a real fan of his style: always progressing, never doing exactly the same thing twice, just advancing, the forward gear, still performing, at 70 years old, like a wind-battered crow on a tree, in the snow. (You may contact me if you want to know something about Dylan all the way through five decades…)
Below I have listed a few songs from my own CD catalogue that show how various influences have helped to develop and extend my musical style. I write & sing songs in German, in the Moselle dialect (of Luxembourg, too), in French (including a whole show of Georges Brassens material - yet another superb lyricist that inspired me) & in English. My passion is to perform songs that combine languages, to help keep the history, the character, the tongue (in French: la langue) of the Moselle area vivid. I also use such songs as part of a minstrel‘s tour that I take regularly for Trier´s Tourist Information Centre. Look me up for a tour if you´re coming to Trier, have a bard show you his town!

The band „Woltähr“ recorded Dylan’s “Gotta Serve Somebody“ live (in 2000), in a Trierish dialect harangue; Ewan McColl’s “Sweet Thames Flow Softly“ (in another Trierish dialect stroll along the river Moselle), CD 1996; and did some demo takes of Donovan’s “Riki Tiki Tavi“ (The Mungo Song, see film on YouTube, with the olympical sabre fighter W. Kothny from Koblenz), of “Spanish Caravan/Riders on the Storm“ (by The Doors), and of “Paint it Red“ (not Black) (by The Rolling Stones) > bonus track by the end of the newer song list < Liedertexte

“Wandering Souls“ (CD Trier by night, 2003) is a song of ours developed within an hour - really! - on the river banks of the Mississippi in New Orleans; “Wolf’s Heaven“ (Dä Wolw em Himmel) describes the dream experience of sleeping in a Comanche people’s tent in Texas/Oklahoma; and “Höhenflug“ (Santa Fe) was written subsequently while riding a car along Route 66 thru Arizona, Navaho, Hopi lands, as far as San Francisco, Cal. (It is our American Trilogy, CD 2003. The latter two are lyre songs. More song stories of the sort were to pass through my mind since then.)


Willie Dunn, Ottawa, is a half Micmac Native American singer-songwriter, one of the pioneers of it all in Canada, whom I had got to know at a festival in Mainz, Germany, in 1983 or so. He wanted to learn my Black Cat Song (Schwarze Katze) when I was at his home in 2000. And he sent me his band version of it for my CD Trier by night in 2003! I came back to meet him in 2005 and we ventured a ride into the Akwesasne Mohawk territory in New York State, USA, and had some troubles at the border getting into White America: Imagine Winnetou and Old Shatterhand appearing at a US border post, today! That’s how I felt. (Live demo recording 1/2006: Willie, Woltähr, Rent-A-Car.)

Love on me tonight“ (Canada, 2005; CD “From the Bunker“, Trier, 12/2007) is a song composed with the 7-string lyre, with Daniel Lanois (“Acadie“) and Leonard Cohen (from Montreal) in the back of my head. I had been to Halifax, Nova Scotia, and I spent a couple of days on the St. Lawrence river bank, then, between Ontario and Québec, with Ron Bankley, Willie Dunn’s guitarist, and a tough singer-songwriter himself >I had a great time singing, playing & trying thinx, as I sat in his canoe on that water, vast as a lake, drifting… almost like paragliding > The song is in German, though, and just that line “Will you lay your love on me tonight?“ is repeated in English every second verse, to create a really groovy, spooky, magical feel (Dt. „Des Meeres und der Liebe Wellen“, Liedertext-Liste Nr. 21).

More recent songs – to the 6- or 7-string lyre – in English and/or German translation:
> William Shakespeare’s “Sonnet 66“ (see the list nr. 66) (bilingual recording)
> and “Queen Mab“ (some fab verses from “Romeo & Juliet“) (nr. 48)
> Most recently: “Mornington Crescent“ (Tube station in London, Camden Town) (nr. 68)
written on Jan 1st, 2012, queuing up for Leonardo Da Vinci’s exhibit in the National Gallery,
and a kaleidoscopic look into the year 2012… speeding up again! > youtube logo
The 1993 in England song „Meine Heimat“ (My homeland is the country of the summer stars,
according tot he Welsh bard Taliesin, 5th to 6th century) has become a YouTube video > youtube logo, with pictures all around London in 2011. When Amy Winehouse had died. (With a verse written by Dylan Thomas, pronounced in Welsh language, as well as I can do it, meaning: We sail a boat upon a path, paddle with leaves, down an ecstatic line of light!)

 



Trio "Woltähr": Walter Liederschmitt, Uwe Heil, Carsten Söns (3 voc, 2 guit, lyre, concertina, basse) 1999 - 2007. La bande à "Woltähr": plus Carola Heiner (sax, clar) CD 1996 + 2000 + 2003, plus Christian Meissner (perc, dr) CD 2007. Dannehl, the bass player from August 2007...