Between failure and getting up: Konstantin Wecker likes to continue to offend

"You can also climb up a ladder whose rungs are made of defeats," says Konstantin Wecker himself about his life, in which falls and successes alternated.

Between failure and getting up: Konstantin Wecker likes to continue to offend

"You can also climb up a ladder whose rungs are made of defeats," says Konstantin Wecker himself about his life, in which falls and successes alternated. There was one thing he was definitely never: conformist. That shouldn't change with his 75th birthday either.

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 does not suit the Munich native, he has lived through too many depths for that himself: imprisonment, drug addiction and the financial collapse in the mid-1990s. Crises from which he pulled himself out again. On Wednesday, the musician is celebrating his 75th birthday with family and friends in his second home, Italy.

"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 mean failure for inner development," he summed up in 2007.

There was also a lot going on 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. Only on Wednesday a week ago, the Bavarian Administrative Court in Munich negotiated the Kreuzverlass, which CSU Prime Minister Markus Söder 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 in it.

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 for the convalescence that is now imminent."

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 the manifesto. At the same time, he calls for support for courageous opponents of Russian President Vladimir Putin.

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