The bell is still chiming

Singer and actress Marianne Mendt shot to fame with ‘Wie a Glock’n’ (Like a bell) in 1970. The uptempo song celebrating the happiness of love (‘Feeling like a bell that’s chiming all day long’) also kick-started the Austro­pop genre.

by Rainer Krispel

The artist, who was awarded the honorary title of ‘Professor’ in 2014, has been living in the Josefstadt since 1973. ‘There’s so much going on in this small district,’ she says, praising the zest and courage of all those entrepreneurial spirits who run the shops, cafés, clubs bars, etc. that make the 8th district the colourful place it is today.

She pursued a different career. Born Marianne Krupicka on 29 September 1945, she became a ‘union-certified performance artist’ as soon as she came of age and went on to tour Europe as a singer (and bassist!) with her band ‘The Internationals’. Until she met the legendary composer, writer and theatre owner Gerhard Bronner, who wrote ‘Wie a Glock’n’ for her – a song that was to give her career a new direction. 

Her life as an artist is reflected both in a rich discography and an impressive list of awards (Golden Order of Merit of the City of Vienna, Romy award, 2016 Amadeus ­Austrian Music Award for lifetime achievement, …). According to Austrian music expert Gerhard Stöger, ‘Wie a Glock’n’, the above-mentioned title track of Mendt’s debut album, is ‘the only Austropop classic popular with international soul DJs’. The 1972 follow-up record, ‘Gute Lieder sind wie Pistolen’ (Good songs are like guns), produced by André Heller, also contains ten very good songs indeed. Not for nothing did the leading re-issue label Bear Family Records release two CDs covering Marianne Mendt’s early work in 2010.

But the outstanding singer and performer is not prone to much reminiscing, even though her 75th birthday in September provided ample occasion for that. Her focus is firmly on the future. And while she also had a major role in the legendary 1990s TV series ‘Kaisermühlen Blues’, music has always been her greatest passion, whether it is promoting young talents at the summer jazz festival in St. Pölten or celebrating her lifelong love of jazz on stage herself – something that, hopefully, she will be able to do again in 2021. And she has a great answer to the equally important and pointless question: ‘What is jazz?’ ‘Joe Zawinul said this to me: Jazz is everything that is good.’ Thank you, Professor Marianne Mendt!

issue 04/2020