Spoon: Melodic Can Song With Criminal Overtones

Can's song Spoon from 1972

The album closer to Can’s Ege Bamyasi (1972) is this glorious little number—Spoon. Packed with ideas, it’s a harmonic ode to indie, jazz, and all sorts of other stuff.

Alongside the brilliant song Vitamin C, for us it’s the double highlight from the album. And we’re here today, with some chopsticks, to pick it apart.

Spoon is Melodic Can and It’ll Meet You Soon

Can’s Spoon song was recorded in 1971. That thing there, sounding as fresh and delightful as can be, is over 50 years old.

And we think that’s a glowing testament to how ahead of its time the band was.

How to even describe the song? Harmonic indie? Melodic? It’s all of that, with bizarre, bopping curiosities thrown into the mix.

Keyboardist Irmin Schmidt propels the show with the bops, with the rest of the band adding in their musical flourishes. As with much of Can’s work, it’s bizarre. But all the better for it.

And as with so many of Can’s songs, the lyrics are unclear. We can only pick apart and speculate about what Damo Suzuki was singing.

It’s part of the mysticism the band generated as the message is unclear. This is our take on it:

“Carrying the room in the afternoon,
I’ll be your spoon, she’ll meet me soon,
Waving a fork, waves a knife,
Speaks me a joke, she slips me alive.”

And then the chorus goes:

“Oh, sit down on my chair where nobody want to care.”

Can’s keyboardist, Irmin Schmidt, told Uncut magazine about Suzuki’s lyrical style:

“Damo never made what you could call proper lyrics, because it always was a kind of dada mixture of totally meaningless syllables and some words and phrases which came to his mind. And actually the whole thing in Can was using the voice as an instrument, as one of the five instruments. It never had this kind of lead singer. And above all the lyrics it never had this sense of transporting any kind of message, it was just music.”

Despite its poppy overtones, we always thought Spoon’s themes are quietly sinister. Like it’s hinting at a murder ahead.

Either that or Can’s song is about a friend coming around for dinner and they’re arranging the table with a lovely assortment of cutlery.

Elsewhere, drummer Jaki Liebezeit is incredible on the track (as always), but the song did mark Can’s first use of a drum machine.

It was coupled with Liebezeit’s live performance. He said of Spoon:

“I don’t mind drum machines. To make a synthetic attempt to have a real drum there, that idea I don’t like so much. Spoon was the biggest hit we had in Germany, and that sound was one of the first rhythm boxes, a Farfisa rhythm box. It could play bossa nova, tango, jazz, waltz, all kinds of dance rhythms, and you could also press down all the buttons at the same time and get that mixture of everything. It was fun, we didn’t take it too seriously.”

Away from the drum machine, it’s his drumming that bops around the track like gold dust. A very impressive piece again, but we ever so slightly prefer his itchy work on Vitamin C.

Also, this was indeed Can’s biggest ever hit! It was released as a single. Behold!

Can's Spoon song single vinyl cover

Shikako Maru Ten was the B side (see Can the Singles). And Spoon shifted 300,000 copies and reached #6 in the German charts. Well done, lads!

Spoon in Des Messer

The real story behind the song is Can created it for early ’70s German detective series Des Messer.

The show starred Hardy Krüger, who recently died in January 2022 at the age of 93. Interestingly, he’d been forced into the Hitler Youth at age 13 and fought in WWII at age 16 in 1944.

His experiences from the war made him a lifelong anti-fascist.

Much like with the German members of Can, Krüger was determined to show Germany’s post-war worth through creativity and talent.

And the band had already done various movie soundtracks, which were added together in the compilation album Soundtracks in 1970. Around that time their singer was Malcolm Mooney, who quit in 1970 by orders of his psychiatrist.

He was warned Can’s musical style was seriously damaging his mental health.

And in stepped Damo Suzuki! Fearless. A little bit crazy. And brilliant enough to mark the finest moments Can achieved as a unit.

As for Spoon, Des Messer’s director wasn’t best pleased about what Can produced. As Schmidt told Uncut magazine:

“We had done this music for a German television programme, Millionenspiel, and that was very successful. So we were asked to do the music to Das Messer. We accepted, of course, and started working and it was about the first thing we did in their new studio. We did our best, and then when I came with the music to the editing room, the director [Rolf von Sydow] flipped out. He didn’t like the music at all. He said, ‘I wanted commercial music and not some avant garde music.’ He was totally against it. Big trouble! But the guys who actually commissioned the music loved it, and said, ‘No matter what the director says, this music should remain—it’s fabulous.’ That was a few days of sleepless nights, because I thought we had done it all in vain …

The [TV show] itself got very bad critics and 100 different papers all over Germany, even the little provincial papers, all wrote, ‘It’s a very mediocre Durbridge this time, but the music is extraordinarily’. And we went into the charts with it.”

The band was a little too avant-garde to be mainstream hit, so Can pretty much stuck to those roots after its efforts with Spoon.

Can’s Spoon Live

Can never did traditional gigs like other bands. Rolling out the hits just wasn’t in the band’s musical vocabulary.

It was all about instant compositions.

Some of those could go well. Some of them not so much. But the example above takes some noises from Spoon, then turns it into one of those hypnotic Can experiences.

Obviously, a lot of LSD and the like was around at the time. Some of the band’s compositions seemed to be a musical manifestation of a drug trip.

The above effort from Paris in 1973 is more melodic, but a year earlier they went into a heavier route with this instant composition. 50 years ago!

It’s really to Can’s immense credit every live version of their songs is different in some ways, adding in new flourishes. And that’s whether you think each one turned out okay or not, it shows they were willing to have a go.

And whilst we wish Can had just played a track like Spoon straight, the band would have hit us over the head with spoons for typing such a thing.

Experimentation. Always. I’ll be your spoon? She’ll meet me soon. 🥄


  1. I never heard of these guys. Love the song/music Spoon. Excellent!
    You made a fab article on them. I’ll have to listen to the live part when I’m sewing to Youtube stuff!
    Me spatula, you egg flipper! ox

    Liked by 1 person

  2. I love this song and Vitamin C too, and everything on Ege Bamyasi really. Even though I have no idea what Damo Suzuki is yelling about, and certainly seems like the band didn’t either, and probably Damo even didn’t. These guys really had an amazing groove and I wish they had more recognition outside the hardcore music fan circles or whatever you’d call them, since nobody else really seems aware of them. It’s a shame.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Aye, it was all about the music! I’d much rather listen to Damo’s gibberish over yet another love song, or some such. Luckily, I got to see him live twice.

      I do hope, one day, citizens of Earth will be forced to listen to their three best albums. That’d be a fine day.

      Liked by 1 person

Dispense with some gibberish!

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