“Danke schoen, darling, danke schoen
Thank you for all the joy and pain…”
The second fragment that repeats over and over is the ending verse.
“My heart says danke schoen
Danke schoen, auf wiedersehen
Interestingly, the emotion that is triggered by the partial song lyrics is gratitude and thankfulness. My mind doesn’t conjure up the rest of the song. Kurt Schwabach and Bert Kaempfert composed the tune to express some of the feeling of lovers who are parting to go their separate ways.
What is especially annoying about my mind’s looping of the tune is that I hear it in Wayne Newton’s voice and that voice constantly mispronounces “danke schoen”. I keep hearing him sing “danka shayn”. That’s why I’ve never particularly liked the song in the first place. I know enough German that to hear “danka shayn” is akin to a prankster scratching his fingernails across a blackboard.
At those times when the Danke Schoen music plays “loudest”, I try to correct it by singing aloud, the proper pronunciation. If you understand German you know that “oe” is the same as “ö”. So, in standard German the word “schoen” is spelled “schön”. The sound is not “shayn”, but something closer to “shurn” with the r sound barely heard–a very soft r. Again, German speakers know this about the letter “ö”.
This quibble might seem a bit obsessive to most people but if you have Wayne Newton butchering “schön” in your mind for a couple of weeks, you might feel annoyed, too.
Now and then, when trying to defocus from danke schön, I remind myself that Newton was also sloppy with “auf wiedersehen”. This fact is a good distraction that allows my thoughts to ponder life as usual.
On the bright side, danke schön loosely translates to English as thank you very much. There is the word danke for thanks (thank you). Then there is schön which is a very frequently used word with several meanings. Schön can be translated into English as “nice” or “nicely” or “fine” or “beautifully”. It can also be used as an adjective. So basically, schön is a linguistically interesting word.
When the phrase “thanks nicely” or “thank you very much” repeats in the head, we can use it to our benefit. Wayne Newton aside, thank you very much is an excellent mantra. The phrase induces feelings of gratitude. Even though Newton sings “danka shayn”, we can at least say “thank you very much” to him for the reminder.
Since life is the greatest gift, it certainly seems appropriate to sing the words “danke schön” all day. However, I prefer to use the correct pronunciation.
The Blue Jay of Happiness quotes the entrepreneur Chip Conley. “Feeling good about your life, but not expressing a heartfelt ‘thank you,’ is like wrapping a gift for someone and never giving it to them.”