What’s the deal with that weird German phrase at the beginning of Def Leppard’s “Rock of Ages”?
“It’s meaningless drivel, basically,” Def Leppard lead singer Joe Elliott told me, after we discussed the effectiveness of cabbage-soup diets. The drivel in question–which Elliott spells “Gunter gleben glousen globen”–was uttered by the producer of their Pyromania record, Mutt Lange (later to be Shania Twain’s husband). The band was going stir crazy in the studio and badly needed some comic relief (not realizing that future albums with Lange would take years instead of months). So on a skeletal version of the “Rock of Ages” track, when Lange was counting off mid-song to indicate where guitar fills should come in, he started off with the tradional “1, 2, 3, 4,” progressed to rhythmically listing Indian foods such as papadum, and ended up making up his own quasi-Teutonic language. “We thought it was so funny, we lifted it from the middle of the song,” Elliott said. (The Offspring agreed in 1998, borrowing it for the intro of “Pretty Fly (For a White Guy).”) “We were actually accosted by a German once who said it meant ‘running through the forest, silently’,” Elliott reported. “It doesn’t–but auf wiedersehen, mate!”
(Excerpted from the 2006 book Is Tiny Dancer Really Elton’s Little John?: Music’s Most Enduring Mysteries, Myths, and Rumors Revealed, published by Three Rivers Press, written by Gavin Edwards.)