Kraftwerk Plays a Live 40-Minute Version of their Signature Song “Autobahn:” A Soundtrack for a Long Road Trip (1974)

“The joys of motor­ing are more or less fic­tion­al,” wrote Zel­da Fitzger­ald to Lud­low Fowler, a friend of her hus­band F. Scott, in 1920. But what an inspir­ing breadth of fic­tion they’ve inspired on the page and screen, most­ly set along the seem­ing­ly end­less road-miles of Amer­i­ca. But look over to Ger­many, a land of dri­vers renowned for their love of and respect for the auto­mo­bile, and you find a whole oth­er sort of, as it were, dri­ving-dri­ven cre­ativ­i­ty. Most famous­ly, 34 years after Fitzger­ald wrote to Fowler, a young Düs­sel­dorf band by the name of Kraftwerk looked to the joys of motor­ing and laid down their sig­na­ture song: “Auto­bahn.”

Tak­ing up 22 full min­utes of the epony­mous 1974 album (though less than three and a half as a sin­gle), “Auto­bahn,” which rock crit­ic Robert Christ­gau described as ema­nat­ing from “a machine deter­mined to rule all music with a steel hand and some mylar,” uses the kind of elec­tron­ic com­po­si­tion tech­niques Kraftwerk would go on to pop­u­lar­ize to evoke the feel­ing of move­ment on the tit­u­lar Ger­man high­way sys­tem.

“We used to dri­ve a lot,” per­cus­sion­ist Wolf­gang Flür once recalled. “We used to lis­ten to the sound of dri­ving, the wind, pass­ing cars and lor­ries, the rain, every moment the sounds around you are chang­ing, and the idea was to rebuild those sounds on the synth.”

But as vet­er­an road-trip­pers know, you aren’t real­ly dri­ving unless the dri­ving hyp­no­tizes you: not only should you spend pro­longed stretch­es of time on the road, you should ide­al­ly do it to a rhyth­mi­cal­ly and tem­po­ral­ly suit­able son­ic back­drop. And so we offer you this live 40-minute ver­sion of “Auto­bahn” which, in the words of Elec­tron­ic Beats, “demon­strates what a musi­cal force the group was back in the day,” tak­en from “a show in the Ger­man city of Lev­erkusen that fus­es the group’s lat­ter-era tech­no-futur­ism with its ear­li­er free-jazz psy­che­del­ic freak­i­ness.” To keep the road-robot mood rolling, why not fire up the ani­mat­ed “Auto­bahn” music video from 1979 we fea­tured last year? But please, don’t watch while you dri­ve — espe­cial­ly if there’s no speed lim­it.

via Elec­tron­ic Beats

Relat­ed Con­tent:

The Psy­che­del­ic Ani­mat­ed Video for Kraftwerk’s “Auto­bahn” from 1979

Kraftwerk’s “The Robots” Per­formed by Ger­man First Graders in Adorable Card­board Robot Out­fits

Kraftwerk’s First Con­cert: The Begin­ning of the End­less­ly Influ­en­tial Band (1970)

Based in Seoul, Col­in Mar­shall writes and broad­casts on cities and cul­ture. He’s at work on a book about Los Ange­les, A Los Ange­les Primer, the video series The City in Cin­e­ma, the crowd­fund­ed jour­nal­ism project Where Is the City of the Future?, and the Los Ange­les Review of Books’ Korea Blog. Fol­low him on Twit­ter at @colinmarshall or on Face­book.

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  • Tony says:

    Math much?
    Fitzger­ald quote — 1920 +
    “34 years after” =
    album released 1974…

  • Anne-Charlotte Granström says:

    GOoooo For­ward.….. For All Of “US” 💃. Alias. “Char­lie”.

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