2006 Jello Biafra Interview On “California Uber Alles” and Jerry Brown

Remember the 1979 punk song “California Uber Alles” by The Dead Kennedys? It’s all about the first incarnation of Governor Jerry Brown. Well, sort of. From the lyrics:

I am Governor Jerry Brown My aura smiles And never frowns Soon I will be president…

Carter Power will soon go away I will be Fuhrer one day I will command all of you Your kids will meditate in school Your kids will meditate in school!

[Chorus:] California Uber Alles California Uber Alles Uber Alles California Uber Alles California

Zen fascists will control you 100% natural You will jog for the master race And always wear the happy face

Close your eyes, can’t happen here Big Bro’ on white horse is near The hippies won’t come back you say Mellow out or you will pay Mellow out or you will pay!

Yikes. What’s that all about? From the Wikipedia entry:

The title is an allusion to the first stanza of the national anthem of Germany, which used to begin with the words “Deutschland, Deutschland ├╝ber alles.” (literally, “Germany, Germany above all.”)

The song focuses on Jerry Brown, the Governor of California between 1975 and 1983, and is sung from his perspective. An imaginary Brown outlines a hippie-fascist vision for America, in which his “suede denim secret police” kill un-cool people with “organic poison gas” chambers. Lines such as “Serpent’s egg already hatched” (a reference to a line from William Shakespeare’s play Julius Caesar) comment on the corrosive nature of power. The line “now it is 1984″ refers to the totalitarian regime of George Orwell’s novel Nineteen Eighty-Four, describing a future (from 1979) where Jerry Brown has become President Brown presiding over secret police and gas chambers.

Why, pray tell, did Biafra choose Brown as his dystopian dictator? The answer can be found in this California Report interview with the former Dead Kennedys’ front man, which the show did as part of its California Songs series. The interview was conducted by California Report producer Victoria Mauleon. Give it a listen:

No word yet on whether Meg Whitman has the song on her iPod…

  • Jason Devine

    Biafra for presedent f$%# yahhhhh!!!!!!!!!!!!

  • D. Hawerchuk

    I always thought it was ” …your kids will never date in school.”

Author

Jon Brooks

Jon Brooks writes mostly on film for KQED Arts. He is also an online editor and writer for KQED's daily news blog, News Fix. Jon is a playwright whose work has been produced in San Francisco, New York, Italy, and around the U.S.

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