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Der Tod von Basel
Last updated: 22.04.17
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I had never heard or heard of "Der Tod von Basel" until coming across it in Die schönsten Liebeslieder. This is a great joy to sing on the difficulties of making a marvellous matrimonial match. The song is presumably of Swiss origin but has several variations. Its sentiments are very similar to the English music-hall song "I married a wife and then".
"Der Tod von Basel" is about a young man who marries a very old woman ("stein-alt") for her money. After only three days he deeply regrets his decision. Wishing to be rid of her, he goes to the graveyard in Basel and prays Death to take his old, unloved wife. (The fact of Death residing in Basel is not explained in the song - I always wanted to know where Death hung out - now I know!) Any roud' up, when he got home, he found his wife dead. There then follows three humorous verses describing how hurriedly a grave is dug and the old dear is potted in. After three days of widowerhood he decides that his house is too empty and he should marry again. This time he marries a young wife but after a further three days he complains that she beats him day and night. In the last verse, the punch-verse so to speak, our young hero confides in Death that he wished he had his old (in the double-sense of the word) wife back!
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