Konstantin Wecker combines social criticism and politics with music like no other. His songs move between poetry and anger, especially against right-wing extremist tendencies. Wecker has an eventful past and, even at 75, has no problem offending anyone.
Konstantin Wecker is considered by many to be an icon of resistance to the right. His ballad “Willy” about a young man who is killed by neo-Nazis in a bar fight is a cult song.
At festivals, vigils, demos and concerts, the singer-songwriter calls for a fight against right-wing violence and hate speech, and his music contains messages and criticism of abuses. Superficial entertainment is not for the Munich native, he has lived through too many lows for that: imprisonment, drug addiction and the financial collapse in the mid-1990s. Crises from which he pulled himself out again. On Wednesday (June 1st) the musician is celebrating his 75th birthday with family and friends in his second home, Italy.
Drug excesses and financial ruin
“You can also climb up a ladder whose rungs are made of defeats,” Wecker wrote 15 years ago in the foreword to a book with the telling title “The Art of Failure”. In it he ruthlessly revealed his drug excesses, during which he pumped himself full of cocaine and crack and vegetated lonely in his luxury villa in the posh Munich suburb of Grünwald. Then in 1995 he was arrested because of the drugs, years of court proceedings, financial ruin.
A crash from which he worked himself back up. Wecker went on tour again, composed children’s musicals and film music, wrote stage programmes, novels, poetry and songs and set poems by Bertolt Brecht to music. In 2018 he became a visiting professor at the University of Koblenz-Landau. There were also prizes again, including the Bavarian State Prize for Music. A refined and mature Konstantin Wecker in a certain sense. “What society understands as failure does not really have to be failure for inner development,” he summarized in 2007.
Second marriage and two sons
Things were also looking up privately. In 1996, the songwriter married the much younger Annik in his second marriage, and their two sons were born in 1997 and 1999. They separated in 2013, and a few years later there was talk of reconciliation again.
So now the 75th birthday – a significant date in very troubled times. It was only on Wednesday that the Bavarian Administrative Court in Munich negotiated the cross decree that Prime Minister Markus Söder (CSU) had enforced in 2018. A crucifix should then hang in the entrance area of state authorities. Wecker was one of those who joined a lawsuit by the religion-critical Association for Freedom of Thought. A decision should be made in June.
Wecker also got involved in the debate about arms deliveries to Ukraine and signed an open letter with others at the end of April calling for an end to the bloodshed. “We therefore call on the German government, the EU and NATO countries to stop arms deliveries to the Ukrainian troops and to encourage the government in Kyiv to end military resistance – against the promise of negotiations on a ceasefire and a political solution » it says.
Songwriter unavailable due to illness
There are many questions for Wecker. For example, what such a political solution could look like that would take into account the security interests of the population and Ukraine’s desire for sovereignty. And how he would answer the critics who, in view of the suffering of the people in Ukraine, saw his demands as cynical, unrealistic or hurtful.
But the singer-songwriter cannot be reached. An illness is forcing him to postpone all upcoming concerts until the beginning of June, his management said. Wecker himself writes: “I deeply regret this and ask my supporters and all organizers concerned for their understanding of the upcoming convalescence.”
Manifesto on home page
No interview, then, but a manifesto that Wecker published on his website at the beginning of March a few days after the start of the war. It makes it clear that the man from Munich, with his pronounced tendency to contradiction and criticism, would rather offend than be unfaithful to himself or even submit to a zeitgeist.
“My feelings and thoughts and all my empathy and solidarity are with the people who are being injured and killed in Ukraine,” Wecker writes in this manifesto, calling for support for courageous opponents of Russian President Vladimir Putin. “We must reach the hearts of millions of people so that the Russian soldiers desert and they stop the murder of the brave people in Ukraine.”