Die Gedanken Sind Frei

This is a story about a song I learned when I was a kid. The song is traditional, and I only heard it referenced one place. That was a movie. This story may also be about music education, as well.

To say my music education was esoteric would be an understatement. I played, not very well, drums and and autoharp in a youth band, and we sang during music class. You name it; we sang it, songs of the sea, classic songs, and songs from other countries.

One song we learned to sing was Die Gedanken Sind Frei , and I did not think much of its significance in 4th, 5th, and 6th grade, until I heard the song in a 1971 TV movie The Birdmen.

For years I’ve been trying to find the song, and finally I did. I forgot about the “Ge” in front of danken. Otherwise I probably would have found the song sooner.

It is a song of protest and, in the movie, was sung as a group of escaped prisoners flew a glider away from a castle into Switzerland. But my first memory is singing in Miss Jean McCauley’s music class in the early 1960s. My music education did not limit me to the enjoyment of classic older songs, but instead, I view it now as having taught history.

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