In 1992 a strange little tune appeared in my Melbourne bedroom and wanted to become a Song. It took 25 years, over 100 Europeans and a new language to get there. This is the story of The Europe Song, a musical language my daughter and I created for the European Commission.
The Europe Song is yours to sing, play, remix or sample as you wish. Our “Various Europeans” version is one way to do it. If you like our version, then make it better. If you hate our version, then make it better. It was designed in three parts (Side A, B and C) so that each can take on a life of its own. The music is free to use with attribution (#TheEuropeSong).* See my My Q&A below.
Here’s the original “Various Europeans” video we produced for the EU Tube channel. We filmed mostly in Barcelona, Brussels and Warsaw. That’s my big nose in the tram stop scene.
Due to production constraints, we shot most of the video in the shitty light of a European winter. So one summer’s morning in Mostar, I woke up the family and team to film this no-budget version of Side B. We’d recorded the music a year earlier just down the road.
Here’s a little ode to the number “12”
There are 12 stars in the video.
There are 12 kids singing in this version.
There are 12 stars in the European Union flag.
There are 12 words in the song. They’re all made up.
The original plan was to launch the music video on 12.12 last year.
The song tempo starts at 104 bpm and ends at 116 bpm (that’s 12 bpm faster).
The last 12 notes are Beethoven’s Ode to Joy (you’ll hear it now you know it’s there).
Here are some answers to questions I’ve been asked so far
What’s The Europe Song?
It’s a tune I started writing in my Melbourne bedroom in 1992 and had forgotten about until early 2016, when the European Commission approached me for help to promote a New Narrative for Europe. I pitched the song as a way to connect with Europeans who otherwise have no interest in the EU. The Commission liked the idea, so I finished writing the song 25 years after starting it. Robert Schuman, “Father of Europe”, said “the European spirit signifies being conscious of belonging to a cultural family”. The Europe Song makes me — and I hope you — feel like family.
What language are they singing in?
It’s what my Brussels-born daughter was speaking last year when she was two years old. A hybrid of half-formed words in French, Polish, English and Gibberish. I’ve been told the words sound a bit “eastern” but that’s because the original version was recorded with local singers in Mostar, Bosnia-Herzegovina. Phonetically the lyrics reflect the language families of north, south, east and west Europe. It should feel natural singing The Europe Song no matter where you’re from or which language/s you speak.
What was your motivation for recording the song?
I feel European and I’m going through a midlife crisis.
What does your midlife crisis have to do with anything?
I stopped writing songs two decades ago (apart from this little ditty for my daughter’s first birthday). My midlife crisis started a year ago, when my daughter found a cassette tape in an old cardboard box. On it was the forgotten tune I’d named, for no particular reason, “Catch of the Day”.
— Richard Medic (@happeningo) April 10, 2017
How did you turn that strange little recording into The Europe Song?
I finished writing the song in Mostar and recorded it at Studio Baraka, which is run by Atilla from Zoster (Mario is one of our singers, Goran built the beats). The town is also home to Mostar Sevdah Reunion, the Pavarotti Centre and the Mostar Rock School. So I had the privilege of working with some of the finest musicians and singers in SE Europe (including 12 kids), most of them based within a two minute walk from the recording studio. The song was mixed and mastered in Cologne by Klaas, who’s best known for his EDM mixes. I asked him for a sound that feels like it was recorded in 2022 by a time traveller from 1992.
Who owns the publication rights to the song?*
The Europe Song is owned by everyone. The composition was my gift to the European Union since they kindly agreed to set it free upon publication. I designed the music as three “sides”. Each has a distinct tempo (104, 110, 116 bpm) and feel to it. Anyone can sing, play, butcher, remix or sample the music and lyrics as long as it’s not to sell washing powder or something (with hashtag attribution #TheEuropeSong, CC BY-NC). Send me a message and I’ll give you 60 audio stems to play with.