Rock Me Amadeus was the number one hit in New Zealand in March and April of 1986. I was a third-former at Kapiti College. I remember walking across the field at the back of school with a guy called David (it must have been in early March) telling him that while I thought the song was awesome it was far too strange for most people and would NEVER be a number one in New Zealand. My judgement of what was “far out” in pop music at the age of thirteen was a bit off. For most people I suppose Falco is remembered purely for this song, but I am the proud owner of two Falco albums: Falco 3 and Emotional. Even though you won’t believe me when I say this; these two albums aren’t as bad as you would expect them to be.
A lot of the fun of Rock Me Amadeus was singing along in German and having no idea what you were saying. Before I looked up the lyrics a few moments ago I had harboured a secret hope that Falco was actually denouncing western capitalism, or explaining how to make a nuclear bomb in the lyrics. The truth however is curiously dull.
He was a superstar, he was popular,
He was so exalted, because he had flair,
He was a virtuoso, was a rock idol,
And everyone shouted “come and rock me Amadeus”
My favourite bit of this song has always been the voiced over potted biography of Mozart which ends:
1791 – Mozart dies
1985 – Austrian rock star Falco records… ROCK ME AMADEUS-EUS-EUS…(horrible echoey effect fades out)
In 1986 I thought it was pretty cool putting these two events next to each other. Actually, I still find it enjoyable now, but in quite a different way.
This has to be one of the most tasteless tombs I have seen. Still, this photo is why I still have a soft spot for Falco: even in death it would seem that he could walk the line between being a totally overblown, pompous idiot and taking the piss out of himself. Of course there were times when I’m sure that Falco actually took himself seriously. Mostly this would have been when he got paid squillions of dollars. At that point it would have been hard not to believe that you were actually a “genius”. Luckily pop celebrity is so brief and the post fame ignominy so complete that this feeling is temporary.
I was quite upset when I heard that Falco had died. He was 40. He was avoiding tax on a Caribbean island. Unfortunately, while he was avoiding tax he drove into a bus.
Falco’s grave is in the Zentralfriedhof in Vienna along with Beethoven, Schubert, a bevy of Strauss’, Brahms, Gluck, Salieri, and Schoenburg.
In retrospect it would seem that Falco’s gift was writing what were really novelty songs. Never mind that he had been classically trained in Vienna. Imagine if you had an idea of yourself as a serious musician and your real gift was writing novelty songs. Who says God doesn’t have a sense of humour?
But let’s end this post with the last song on Falco’s album Emotional, called The Kiss of Kathleen Turner. It is a very odd song indeed. The lyrical highlight must be:
Austerlitz, Waterloo, Verdun, Stalingrad, Hiroshima, Nagasaki, Harrisburg, Brokdorf, Zwentendorf, Cattenom, Wackersdorf, Tschernobyl,
Kathleen, can you hear me babe Kathleen? Do you know what I’m talking about? I’m just talking about Not the first kiss of my life, I’m talking about … our planet … Kathleen!
Oh right, our planet… I’m totally with you now.
Falco, I love you.