What makes a song evergreen?

Lexicon of film terms


., literally: evergreen; evergreen is a sham Anglicism; in English the term means "evergreen plants"; an engl. Equivalent to the German meaning does not exist; in German you can also find: long-running hits, hits, longsellers

There are songs that develop a life of their own and are beyond the control of their authors. They are called Evergreens, Denoting songs that seem to remain "evergreen" - that is, always-new. Despite their age, they are played again and again in the media. Sometimes it is said that oldies are something like evergreens - but that is only partly true because they show that they are old; they evoke biographical memories; even if they can be sung along, they are therefore not yet evergreens. Closer to the evergreen is the concept of “standards” known from jazz music - songs or pieces that invite new recordings and that therefore stay alive. The proximity of the evergreens to folk music is clear. Here it is not so much the musical variation that guarantees its liveliness, but its recurring use in contexts above all of festivals and celebrations. Operetta melodies, film music and hits have become popular hits and general cultural assets. The resistance of such songs to historical changes in popular styles is astonishing. A surprising number of evergreens owe their continued popularity to their use in film. The hits from The three from the gasstation were heard for the first time in 1930; also the Hans Albers song “On the Reeperbahn at half past twelve” from the film Great freedom No. 7 (1944) has remained popular to this day. Occasionally, theme songs and music have not only become record hits, but have taken on a long life of their own (an early example is “Cheek to Cheek” from the dance film Top hat, 1935; But we should also remember the zither music by Anton Karas for the film The Third Man, 1949, or the "River Kwai March" The Bridge on the River Kwai, 1957). Evergreens of this origin are special cases in which film scores are used as music titles.

Literature: Fischer, Hermann: Folk song, hit, evergreen. Studies on lively singing based on studies in the Reutlingen district. Tübingen: Tübingen Association for Folklore 1965. - Romney, Jonathan / Wootton, Adrian (eds.): Celluloid jukebox. Popular music and the movies since the 50s. London: British Film Institute 1995. - Wulff, Hans J .: Evergreens - songs between collectivity and intimacy. On the occasion of the film La Paloma by Sigrid Faltin (Germany / France 2008). In: Song and Popular Culture. Yearbook of the German Folk Song Archive 54, 2009, pp. 310-316. Also in: Kiel contributions to film music research 3, 2009, pp. 165-169 (: http://www.filmmusik.uni-kiel.de/filme/KB3-LaPalomaarc.pdf).

Article last changed on October 16, 2012

Author: HJW