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Udo Lindenberg: Alla Pugacheva – Russia’s DNA and its conscience – DW – 20.09.2022

While in Russia politicians, officials, propagandists and social media users attacked Alla Pugacheva, who openly opposed the war in Ukraine, in Germany she is admired and supported. And the main voice here, of course, is the reaction of Pugacheva’s longtime German stage partner, rock star Udo Lindenberg (Udo Lindenberg), who answered questions from DW in connection with the sharp criticism of the Russian singer. But first, about why we asked questions to Lindenberg.

Udo Lindenberg and Alla Pugacheva: together against the war

Pugacheva and Lindenberg performed the song “Why War” together. Their creative union, which has long become history, in the light of current events could sound on the topic of the day:

“No one wants to die…
Why war then?
President, you know this.
What’s the matter?
Share the secret why soldiers
Are they fighting and killing people?
Why war? Why war?”

These are the words from the song “Why War”, which Alla Pugacheva and Udo Lindenberg sang at the XII World Festival of Youth and Students in Moscow, which took place from July 27 to August 3, 1985. Pugacheva sang in Russian, Lindenberg – in German.

Udo Lindenberg
Udo LindenbergPhoto: Axel Heimken/dpa/picture alliance

In an interview with DW, when asked if he would sing the song “Why War” with Alla Pugacheva today, the German rock star answered this way: “We can perform this song again and again, everywhere on earth, until the conscience of mankind finally will not achieve eternal peace. In the meantime, the following holds true: if humanity does not put an end to wars, then wars will someday kill all of humanity.

DW: Mr. Lindenberg, would you change something in the song “Why War” today?

Udo Lindenberg: Not a line.

– Do you think Alla Pugacheva can wake up Russian society?

– Alla has been the DNA of Russia and a piece of the conscience of the nation for decades. It is a gigantic social phenomenon that many people are guided by. If she now makes clear what her position is, I can well imagine that, along with a chorus of other rising critical voices, she can seriously wake up many people who are now treading lightly in the fog of false Kremlin propaganda and spur them to action.

– In her homeland, Alla Pugacheva has now come under a real flurry of criticism only because she expressed her opinion, which differs from the official position. What could you say to Alla at such a moment, how would you support her?

– The fact that she expresses her opinion is worth its weight in gold, Russian society needs it now. Silence in these times is not silver. By remaining silent, you become an accomplice – an accomplice of all the crime, the tragedies of soldiers and civilians that occur on both sides (wars in Ukraine. – Ed.). He who is silent belongs to the silent army on whose shoulders this catastrophe is.

– Is it possible to stop the war with one song?

– The song could be the musical accompaniment to a violent protest movement that will depower the distraught warmongers and broom them out of their positions.

“Amazing woman”: how social networks reacted

Udo Lindenberg, having learned that a whole stream of criticism fell upon Alla Pugacheva in Russia, quoted lines from the song “Why War” in his Facebook account (in his post, the German version of the text, we give the Russian version, which was performed by Alla Pugacheva) …:

“Why should we stand against each other
And shoot when we can at each other
Find friends?
But before friendship comes death again.
Well, why should this stupidity surpass everything?

… and a quote from singer’s post on Instagramwherein Alla Pugacheva expresses full solidarity with her husband Maxim Galkin, asks to be included in the ranks of “foreign agents” and wishes that the death of “our guys for illusory goals that make our country an outcast and make life difficult for our citizens” stop. Quote by Alla Pugacheva was translated into German, which allowed fans of Udo Lindenberg and subscribers to his account to immediately comment on the words of the Russian singer.

“My respects, Mrs. Pugacheva, all the best to you and your spouse,” user Uwe Stöhr wrote. Many left laconic but sincere comments: “Amazing woman”, “Courageously”, “I wish there were more of them”, “Music and songs can change a lot”. The German rock star’s post has garnered over three thousand likes as of this article’s publication.

Music that became history

The most famous joint performance of a German rock musician and a Soviet pop star took place in 1987 in Leningrad. A year later, Melodiya released a joint album by Pugacheva and Lindenberg, Songs Instead of Letters. Their creative union entered not only the history of popular music, but also the history of the last period of the Cold War.

Alla Pugacheva and Udo Lindenberg perform a duet song
Alla Pugacheva and Udo Lindenberg perform the song “Why War” in a duet, January 1988 Photo: Thomas Frey/IMAGO

From the middle to the end of the 1980s, Udo Lindenberg gave several joint concerts with Alla Pugacheva. In 1985, he was allowed to perform in Moscow, where they sang a duet, performing the song “Wozu sind Kriege da” (“Why is there a war”), prudently replacing the words “I’m scared in this forest of atomic missiles” with “I’m scared in this forest of Western missiles.

At a concert in Koblenz in 1987, Udo and Alla again performed this song as a duet. In Germany, the original version sounded: “I’m scared in this forest of atomic missiles.” “Why war then?” – Pugacheva and Lindenberg sing these lines at the end of the song together, first in Russian, then in German. At the end of the performance at the concert in Koblenz (the recording is at the disposal of DW), Udo Lindenberg cordially introduces Alla Pugacheva to the audience and, seeing her off the stage, says: “Alla Pugacheva! Friendship!” And after almost four decades, Udo remains true to his words, Alla does not lose courage, and the question remains the same: “Why war?”

See also:

Are the moods in Russia changing?

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