'Jack of All Trades' or 'Double Agent?' The German Popular Musician as Novelist

Wiley Blackwell Periodicals
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Journal Article
Journal of Popular Music Studies, 2013, 25 (2), pp. 127 - 153
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A survey of contemporary German literature reveals that the figure of the popular musician-cum-novelist has gained a certain prominence since the latter part of the 1990s, including in the context of what has been referred to as Popliteratur, or Pop II.2 Although other examples could be given, Thomas Meinecke (songwriter for Freiwillige Selbstkontrolle [FSK], and author of Tomboy [1998] and other novels) and Sven Regener (songwriter for Element of Crime, and author of Herr Lehmann [2001] and other novels) have both attained a noticeable and sustained degree of fame and/or critical success as novelists. In doing so, they have avoided a career move hitherto common amongst those popular musicians with ambitions as writersthe genre of musician's autobiographyand other one-off attempts to transfer music to the written word, such as compendiums of song lyrics.3 At the same time, both Meinecke and Regener have maintained their pre-existing careers as proponents of what one might call ambitious popular music. Even though Popliteratur is not a new notionthere was, in the late 1960s, a first phase of Popliteratur, sometimes referred to as Pop Idurable, hybrid careers such as Meinecke's seem to be a new phenomenon, and can tell us about important changes in the contemporary German literary market, as well as about the cultural trajectory of certain types of German popular music. There may be some counterparts in other national contexts, but it is my contention that conditions specific to the German setting promoted the dual careers of people like Meinecke and Regener. Using Meinecke and Regener as case studies then, this article posits a fruitful, and increasing symbiosis, in Germany, of two cultural sub-fields and markets (the popular-musical and the literary), which inter alia calls into question the traditional hierarchization of literature and popular music (and perhaps even the strict separation of both).
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