The way the Germans see The United States in general and the Americans in particular is a much more nuanced story than I could ever fit in one measly blogpost. And to be upfront about it, I’m normally drawn to the more critical and even confrontational views. It’s too easy (and naive) to believe everybody loves the Red White and Blue.
Nevertheless, when I’m minding my own business and going about my typical day, I’m often a bit taken aback when I encounter people who have very positive impressions of my homeland. In my own strange and tortured way, I like where I came from and love some of my countrymen/women very deeply. Having said all that, I don’t advertise it.
Some Germans find out I have family in Texas, and suddenly they have a volley of questions that come barrelling out of their mouths. Did you grow up with horses? Uh, no. My grandmother had a farm, but it was truly agribusiness. Did you wear a cowboy hat to school? I most certainly did not. What’s a real rodeo like? I assure you, a real rodeo is nearly as alien to me as it is to you.
Imagine my surprise when one of my clients asked me about the song I Like Beer. It won’t surprise you to know that I had no idea what she was talking about. None. Where on earth had she even located such a song of questionable quality/taste? Well, she was only too happy to inform me about the The Ranch. It’s a terrestrial radio station in the States, but you can also listen to it live-streamed anywhere in the world.
A few other titles that may or may not surprise you:
‘She’s Cold as the Beer She’s Drinking’
‘Barmaid, Pour Me a Vacation’
What do I think about this? I’m conflicted. It’s a little weird. Some Germans, as well as many Bavarians, have a rather idealised picture of life in Texas. I don’t want to dissuade them from thinking people are living a life of freedom-loving badass-ness. There are certainly plenty of people in Texas who believe that’s what they’re doing.
And I don’t want to give the impression that the perspective the Germans have isn’t nuanced. When it comes to geopolitical issues, postwar Germans are actually quite adept at such nuance. They see the American brand and know that some of it is bluster. Some of it is nostalgia. Many older Germans remember soldiers handing out chocolate bars as they liberated the war-ravaged cities. Those old-timers would likely say that that’s definitely something to be nostalgic about.
But what do I think about The Ranch providing the people of my adopted country with a slice of Americana? Still not too sure about this one. Luckily, I know some of the people who read this blog will have some clever answers for my dilemma.
I’ll leave you with the lyrics to Kevin Fowler‘s ‘I Like Beer‘:
She was alone at a table for two I said, Now's the time to make my move So I got me a beer and I bought her ... on the beach She saw that umbrella stuck in the glass That chunk of pineapple made her laugh She took the beer from my hand and said thank you, man I didn't take her for the longneck kind She said boy have you lost your mind? Chorus Hell yeah, I like beer It gets me grinnin' from ear to ear Not just every now and then I'm talking 365 days a year I can do it around the clock I don't like it just a little, I like it a lot Even hot hell yeah, I like beer Ooh, I love it Yeah, it's good for your heart, it's good for your mind It's good for gettin through a lonely all night Everybody knows you shouldn't drink too much So why does it always seem like it's enough Chorus Hell yeah, I like beer It gets me grinnin from ear to ear Not just every now and then I'm talking 365 days a year I can do it around the clock I don't like it just a little, ooh, I like it a lot Even hot hell yeah, I like beer Everybody now, come one! Chorus Yes I do Hell yeah I like beer