The village – Wim Sonneveld

The Village by Wim Sonneveld may very well be one of the most romantic anti-modernist Dutch songs I have ever heard. It came out on the 18th of may 1974. Right around the time it must have started to become clear to people in the Dutch countryside that technology was changing the culture even outside the cities. It gives a sense of the confusion that older men who had seen different times must have experienced seeing their villages change so suddenly and rapidly.

I didn’t manage to get the rhyme back in, but rhythm-wise the translation should be correct. Try not to get caught up in the melancholy too much.

I have a postcard still at home
That shows a church, a horse with cart
A butcher, J. van der Ven
A Pub, a woman on a bike
It likely means nothing to you
But it is the village where I was born
This village, I recall it well
The farmer’s children go to class
A cart rattles along the cobbles
The town hall with a well in front
A dirt path goes between the corn
The cattle, the farmhouses

And along my father’s garden path
I could see the tall trees standing
As a child I didn’t know better
than thinking that it would last forever

They lived so simply in those days
In plain houses between the green
With farmer’s flowers and a hedge
But apparently they were wrong
Their village has been modernised
And now they are taking the right path
Cause see, how rich this life can be
They watch a television quiz
And get to live in concrete boxes
With lots of glass, so you can see
How the furniture looks at Mien’s
And her dressoir with plastic roses

And along my father’s garden path
I could see the tall trees standing
As a child I didn’t know better
than thinking that it would last forever

The village youth flocks together
In miniskirt and beatle-hair
And yap along to beat-music
I know, I know, it is their right
The new time is here, as you said
But it leaves me melancholic
I knew their fathers as young men
They bought liquorice for a cent
I saw their mothers jumping rope
The village from then is gone now
This is all that remains with me
A postcard and some old memories

And when along my father’s garden path
I could still see the trees standing
I was a child, so how could I know
That all this would end forever

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