When a person lives

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When a Person Lives is a song by the rock band Puhdys from 1973. It was made famous by the DEFA film The Legend of Paul and Paula .


The then little-known East Berlin band Puhdys was invited by the film composer Peter Gotthardt to play the music for the film Die Legende von Paul und Paula, based on a script by Ulrich Plenzdorf . The lyrics were also written by Plenzdorf. Peter Gotthardt was responsible for the composition. In addition to when a person lives , times and expanses and go to her belong to the Puhdys pieces in the film.

The title was recorded with the following line-up: Dieter Birr (vocals, guitar), Dieter Hertrampf (guitar, background vocals), Harry Jeske (electric bass), Gunther Wosylus (drums) and Peter Meyer (keyboard).

The film was a great success with around three million viewers. He also made known the Puhdys, who subsequently became the most commercially successful rock band in the GDR . When a Person Lives is the ninth track on their first LP, The Puhdys. A Puhdys LP with the song was released in 1976 as Puhdys 1 by Hansa in the Federal Republic of Germany .

In 1999 the Puhdys re-recorded the song in two versions: as Radio Edit I with a duration of 3:19 minutes and as Radio Edit II with a length of 3:26 minutes .


The original version of the piece is 3:25 minutes. It begins with simple piano bass lines that correspond to the bass lines in Johann Pachelbel's canon in canon and gigue in D major . The song is even more similar to the 1966 song Spicks and Specks by the Bee Gees , which is also based on Pachelbel's canon, but in which, as in When a Person Lives, every bass note is played twice. The singer sings powerfully. As in the ostinat models, the bass motif runs through the entire piece. Drums, guitar and electric bass kick in as the song progresses. Two lines of text are sung at half tempo, but the bass scheme is retained.

As in Go to Her , reference is made to a Bible text. The text is based on the book of Kohelet , which mainly contains sayings of wisdom and advice on how to live, chapter 3, verses 1 to 8, from the Luther Bible (compare Koh 3, 1–8  EU ). Parts of the chapter that are not dealt with in the song - such as hugging and letting go - are thematized in the film. The song also sings about a sleeping friend. This refers to the Old Testament Song of Songs .

The piece When a Person Lives introduces the film, which, similar to an overture, shows various sequences matching the verses of the music.

Other versions

The singers Clueso , Matthias Reim , Heinz Rudolf Kunze and the singer Jasmin Tabatabai also recorded the piece.

Outputs (without compilations)


  • 1999: When a person lives / Go to her (Maxi-CD, BMG)


  • 1974: The Puhdys ( Amiga )
  • 1976: Puhdys 1 ( Hansa )
  • 2013: Infinite - deluxe version (version by Matthias Reim; EMI)

Web links

Individual evidence

  1. ^ Puhdys at discogs.com , accessed October 10, 2013
  2. Description of the single at discogs.com , accessed October 10, 2013
  3. lyrics at ostmusik.de ( Memento of 18 January 2013, Internet Archive ), accessed on April 12, 2014
  4. Chapter 1, verse 15: “ See my friend, you are beautiful ; You are beautiful, your eyes are like dove's eyes ”and Chapter 2, Verse 7:“ I swear to you, you daughters of Jerusalem, by the deer or by the hind in the field, that you do not wake my friend up or stir it until you yourself like . ". See poetry and the Bible . Friday March 30th 2013
  5. song analysis at songlexikon.de , accessed on 10 October 2013