Herzog doesn’t like music – I thought everyone did

Posted on April 26, 2012


The letter this past week from film director Werner Herzog to his cleaner was epic. A must-read. (In short, he doesn’t like music, doesn’t like his cleaner’s ways.)

It even contains the priceless lines:

I have only listened to two songs in my entire life. One was an aria by Wagner that I played compulsively from the ages of 19 to 27 at least 60 times a day until the local townsfolk drove me from my dwelling using rudimentary pitchforks and blazing torches. The other was Dido. Both appalled me to the point of paralysis. Every quaver was like a brickbat against my soul. Music is futile and malicious.

Wagner and Dido. Together at last. You can’t make it up.

But fewer people saw the prank ‘Cleaning lady’s response to Werner Herzog’. (Courtesy of Jon Collins (@jonno).)

The Herzog thing caught my eye for two reasons. One, because he’s a fascinating character. (Wikipedia is as good a place as any to start.) My film reviewer friend Matt Turner (@FilmFan1971) describes him as “German. Herzogian. Genius.” See, he even is defined by his own adjective.

The second reason is that I thought one of the fundamental aspects of being human is love of music. Maybe only one type of music. (I’m looking at you, jazzheads and heavy house types.) Maybe only for listening to rather than getting up and dancing or even tapping a foot. But a love, nonetheless.

But now I hear Herzog’s view. Which, frankly, is close to my father’s, though even he once expressed liking mariachi music from several years spent in Mexico.

I go on a lot about everyone loving a good story. But am I wrong about music?

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Posted in: Film, Music