Colour Green: Found 33 Years Later

Sibylle Baier.jpg

by Karigan Wright

Sixteen-year-old Sibylle Baier sat in her living room in Germany in 1973, just a young woman, her guitar, and a reel-to-reel machine. She recorded fourteen short tunes over three years, creating a thirty-three-minute long album which she titled “Colour Green”.

Baier recorded the album on her own, making copies for close friends, making no attempt to be noticed by record companies or music fans. She wasn’t looking for fame, just looking to share her music with her close-knit circle. It wasn’t until 2006 when “Colour Green” was released to the public. Baier’s son Robby had come across the album and opted to send it to his friend, musician, and member of the band Dinosaur Jr., J Mascis, who later sent the album to his friend who worked at the record company Orange Twin Label.

Upon receiving the record, Orange Twin Label released it as it was originally recorded, preserving the historical raspy sound. The label isn’t responsible for just re-releasing Baier’s album, the label also discovered the self-titled album by the folk rock-psychedelic artist Elyse.

The background sound of the album is unique and raw, being recorded on a reel-to-reel machine, there’s a certain gravelly feel accompanying the acoustic vocals. Though released thirty-three years later, there is no doubt that “Colour Green” sounds exactly like the soft German music the artist grew up with.

“Colour Green” opens with “Tonight,” a simple yet raw song about coming home from work to your lover, talking to them about your rough day. Baier’s sweet and gentle voice guides you throughout the story, making for a very personable experience. She conveys a raw dialogue between her and her lover, providing quotes from their interactions and dedicating the song to “him”.

Tonight when I came home from work
there he unforeseen changed in the lazy chair
and said "what's that sorrow you bear?"
and I could tell him, he understood
he gently took my arm
he listened to my tears till dawn
I dedicate this song to you
tonight we had change of the moon

Baier reflects on a single day when she was sixteen in “Remember the Day”, describing going on a trip with her friend Claudine in the Swiss Alps. There is an incredible amount of imagery in this song, Baier describing the ocean, the secluded area, and the emotions she felt during the trip. She keeps a conversational tone throughout the piece, making the audience feel apart of the story, rather than making it feel like Baier is just speaking to Claudine.

There slowly, slowly, I no longer thought of what is good or what is not

There simply was the water's smell and remoteness

I only stood and watched that old cold ocean

In tender and bright, full, unspeakable emotion

I did what I could

All was good

The title track, “Colour Green,” gives the audience a glimpse into a dream Baier once had. The dream version of Baier grows and changes throughout the song, until at last, she admits her loneliness and how she is no longer herself, followed by reminding the audience of her dream. The lyrics portray a nostalgic feeling, Baier perhaps dreaming about a memory of hers or even a fantasy of hers. There is a stark focus on clothing, mentioned throughout. The title of the album is even a reference to this “colour green”, possibly symbolizing a very distinct memory of hers.   

I'd been a girl and one dream
Frequented my late afternoon
Saw me in New York City
Wearing a sweater colour green
So one night I sat down on a chair and knitted there

Baier’s unique voice softly takes you into her world, one of love, pain, friendship, and loss. Each song creates an image of a different time and place; whether it be an image of knitting in NYC, of losing love, or talking to a lover. Each song blends into the next, sounding like a singular story divided into fourteen parts. The personal stories of Baier’s life are simple and relatable, making for a cozy and intimate experience. Her words reflect a nostalgic feeling of innocence, vulnerability, and coming of age, the guestbook on her website reflecting this sentiment. It simply does not matter that the album was released decades later, fans are praising it now. They truly appreciate it for the incredible work it is. Many commented on how the album changed their lives, helping them through breakups, making them appreciate music more, or bringing them closer to a loved one.

Her voice stays strong and constant, her vocals keeping up with each story she tells. She changes pitches throughout the album, blessing our ears with both her deep and strong vocals as well as higher and more fragile notes.

In addition to her voice, Baier is also uniquely lyrical, writing in an unusual structure. Each song is written in its own way, some without a chorus, others without a bridge. Her lyrics read more so as poetry than music, this however only adding to Baier’s rare charm and talent.

Soft-spoken and personable, “Colour Green” is the perfect album to listen to as you relax in your cozy home, either alone or with your significant other. Baier provides more than a source of musical entertainment, she unintentionally contributed to a historical account of stripped down pop-folk music in Germany. Baier’s whimsical and smooth voice will take you back to the folk singer-songwriter tunes of the early 1970s.

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