Johnny Irion's English Version of German Sixties Pop Hit: Listen - Rolling Stone
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Hear Johnny Irion’s Exhilarating English Version of a German Sixties Pop Hit

“In Germany, the song is on par with ‘This Land Is Your Land,'” says Irion of “Marmor, Stein und Eisen bricht”

Folk-rock singer Johnny Irion knows a good song when he hears it — even if it’s not in his native language. While on tour in Germany, Irion spent an evening drinking wine and talking music with his friend Michael Kleff, who introduced him to a staple of German pop radio in the Sixties, “Marmor, Stein und Eisen bricht.”

With its “dum dum” refrain, Irion couldn’t get it out of his head, and he began performing it onstage while on tour in Europe. “It stuck with me, and I got the sound man that night in Germany to transcribe the words to English, and the crowd went nuts,” Irion says. “In Germany, the song is on par with ‘This Land Is Your Land.'”

Back in the Berkshires in Massachusetts, where he calls home, Irion cut a live version of the song at the Stationery Factory in Dalton, imbuing his rendition with a punk attitude. His friend Kleff, a host of German Public Radio, approved.

“When you grew up in Germany as a teenager in the Sixties, and you were interested in music, Drafi Deutscher’s hit ‘Marmor, Stein und Eisen bricht’ was way more than just a song that stuck in your ear,” Kleff says. “It became a classic that became part of your life. Many tried to cover it, with no great success. Until now. When Johnny heard it a few years ago in my home in Bonn, Germany, he was smitten. With his English version he now gave the song a new life while keeping the spirit of the original alive.”

Irion released his solo album Driving Friend in 2018. In 2016, he issued the debut LP by his then-band U.S. Elevator.

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