Gert Mobius, brother of the Ton-Steine-Scherben singer, has published his "Logbook." It deals with fears, the Beatles and the blues.
Fully immersed in the music Photo: Rio Reiser Archive
A good diary should also be a good book. Everyone should be able to read a good diary." This is an entry Ralph Mobius, better known as Rio Reiser, makes in his notebook on February 9, 1974. Before that, he writes how he is tormented by self-doubt, how he feels far too much fear and far too little love in himself. "Horror thoughts," he himself says about it.
It’s interesting how one looks deep into the inner life of Rio Reiser, how one, as a reader, witnesses an adolescent crisis that must be hell for the one who lives through it. The fact that Reiser likes men doesn’t make it any easier for him – we are in the seventies. While describing all this, the great German rock singer casually lives up to his own claim that a diary should be like a good book. One comes close to the Ton Steine Scherben singer, who died almost 20 years ago. Very close.
In "Halt dich an deiner Liebe fest" you can read these diary notes by Reiser for the first time. The book was published by his brother Gert Mobius and is named after the Scherben song of the same name. But the diary notes are only one part – all in all, the book reads like a mixture of family history, autobiography and biography of the little brother who was such a great man. Mobius quotes frequently from Rio’s logbook; he documents the musician’s crisis period between 19, mentioned at the beginning, entirely in diary form.
For those who know Reiser’s autobiography "Konig von Deutschland" (together with Hannes Eyber, originally from 1994, also re-released these days) or the Ton-Steine-Scherben band biography "Keine Macht fur Niemand", the personal notes might be among the most interesting passages – because the band history was well illuminated in the already published books.
Musical revival experiences
In addition, the early family history of the brothers Gert, Ralph and Peter Mobius now completes the picture that one had of Rio Reiser until now. One can read his letters to his mother, one learns something about a childhood with constant changes of place (Traunreut, Bruhl, a village near Stuttgart, Nuremberg) in the late 1950s. A not entirely untypical childhood: the family lives well and comfortably, the collective social repression of what has happened is omnipresent. You just can’t start scratching the surface. In religion class, Reiser once snapped when he asked the teacher why the commandment "Thou shalt not kill" did not apply to the Bundeswehr. It has to be, says the teacher.
The musical awakening experiences are not lacking either. For example, Reiser is fascinated by an out-of-tune guitar that he finds during one of the many parades in his childhood – "because I was ecstatically into music, forgetting everything around me." The real kick, however, came later with the Beatles. He reads a Stern article about the Fab Four and writes: "Everything I had been looking for was suddenly there. I kissed the pictures, I was totally gone, although I hadn’t even heard them yet. But I knew: This is it. This is Us. These are the ones who never ‘grow up’. These are the ones who are just like girls."
Gert Mobius: "Hold on to your love. Rio Reiser." Aufbau Verlag, Berlin 2016. 304 pages, 22.95 euros
The three Mobiuses stirred up the creative scene in Kreuzberg at the end of the 1960s when they came to Berlin – initially with a street and social theater project. What else were they doing back then? "Actually, our days, our evenings, our nights went by spinning around, smoking, drinking and spinning around." While one (Peter) continued to devote himself to theater after that, the other (Gert) to film and television, the third (Ralph aka Rio) became a rock star.
The well-known history of the seventies and eighties follows: the founding of Ton Steine Scherben, the first squat in Berlin (following a Scherben concert), APO and political struggle, "all these new left-wing parties like KPD-AO, KPD-ML, PL/PI," the demarcation from the RAF and the 2nd World War movement. June, Reiser’s move to the Ton-Steine-Scherben commune in Fresenhagen, the band’s enormous debts, finally Claudia Roth becoming the manager of the Scherben.
And in between: the blues. It is precisely these deeply melancholic nuances that are remarkable about this new biography. The existentialist brooding Reiser spreads out here, the records make you think about him in a new and different way. Moreover, his descriptions and those of the author Mobius, in which they tell much of the difficult everyday life among anarchists, transfigure nothing. If one episode of Reiser’s life remains somewhat mysterious in this book, it is the one in the early 1990s when he joined the PDS. This can also be gotten over because it can only be a rather associative memoir, as Mobius notes right at the beginning.
The descriptions tell a lot about the difficult everyday life among anarchists and do not glorify anything.
At one point Reiser writes how he thinks back to a food poisoning, and there he probably sums up his life and work well: "And the other day, when the thing with the mushrooms was, I was afraid of dying for the first time, or rather, I seriously saw the possibility that I might croak. Well, in any case, I don’t want to die of mushroom poisoning, but if I do, I want to die for something."