Du. Du hast. Du hast mich. In its opening chant of You. You have. You have me, “Du Hast” released by Rammstein in 1997 was a breakout song for the German industrial band.
Off the band’s second album Sehnsucht (Desire), “Du Hast” brought the band into the Western mainstream when it was featured in The Matrix and later in the 2001 stoner comedy Hit High, starring Method Man and Redman. Prior to that, the band’s songs “Rammstein” and “Heirate Mich’ (“Marry Me”), off their 1995 debut Herzeleid (Heartbreak), were featured in David Lynch’s neo-noir film Lost Highway in 1997—the film also gets a nod in the “Du Hast” video.
Lyrically, the meaning of “Du Hast” was left up for interpretation, and double entendre.
“Hast” or “Hasst”?
The close pronunciation between du hast (you have) and du hasst (you hate), plays on two meanings throughout the song—Du hast mich (you have me) and Du hasst mich (you hate me).
In a few words
Though the song is filled with scant lyrics—You, you have, you have me / You have me, you asked me / You asked me, you asked me and I said nothing—“Du Hast” explores the detriments of marriage, and the developing separation and resentment drawn from a long-term relationship.
Do you want, until death separates you
To be faithful to her for all days
Do you want, until death, which would separate
To love her, even in bad days
German Wedding Vows
“Du Hast” also plays on German wedding vows—Wollen Sie einander lieben und achten und die Treue halten bis dass der Tod euch scheidet?—or (roughly) “Do you love and respect each other and remain faithful until death separates you?”
Fitting the more sterile, industrial, and sci-fi setting of the film, “Du Hast” was featured on The Matrix soundtrack in 1999 and was a big introduction of Rammstein to America.
Oh, the Depravity
The Sehnsucht era expanded Rammstein’s more bizarre, theatrical, grotesque, and pornographic antics in videos and on stage, blasted with pyrotechnics, bodily fluids, and flagellation.
As a nod to David Lynch’s Lost Highway, the video for “Du Hast,” directed by Philipp Stölz, features the special effect of a car and small building exploding backwards, while their warehouse scene, “drawing blood from each other” drew on Quentin Tarantino’s Reservoir Dogs.
“Du Hast”/Rammstein in English
Singer and songwriter Till Lindemann once said that trying to write Rammstein songs in English was like asking “Buddha to kill a pig or something,” so German predominantly wins out when writing. “For me, the problem was I grew up in East Germany so we never spoke English in school besides translating Sex Pistols songs and stuff like that,” said Lindemann of trying to write or perform English. “So it was really hard in the beginning. Actually, I learned a lot on our American tours with Rammstein when we played with Slipknot and Korn and Limp Bizkit in the ’90s. That was my speech school, kind of.”
On trying to write the song in English, guitarist Richard Kruspe added, “We did it, and then we were listening to the song, and all of a sudden the whole song didn’t work anymore. So we pushed that away. We deleted it… the song had always been something very special.”
“Du Hast” = Band Loyalty
“This song is actually about a kind of loyalty,” said Kruspe. “We see Rammstein like a kind of family. We have a strong awareness, a strong sense of tradition in this band. And for me, this song is a bit like that promise of faith we know from weddings, that’s kind of been integrated into this family.”
Photo: Jen Koch