Doe Maar

Canzoni contro la guerra di Doe Maar
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Doe MaarDoe Maar was a Dutch ska band with punk and reggae influences. They were together from 1978 to 1984 and are among the most successful pop bands in Dutch history. Outside the Dutch-speaking world they are little known, because most of their lyrics are written in Dutch. The success of Doe Maar made it possible for other Dutch singing groups to break through, a development called Nederpop.

Doe Maar is a Dutch phrase meaning go ahead, mostly used in a deprecatory, sulky manner.

The best known Doe Maar line-up involved Henny Vrienten, bass, Ernst Jansz, keyboard, Jan Hendriks, guitar and Jan Pijnenburg on drums (although Pijnenburg did not appear on any of the recordings.)

The band members still enjoyed playing together and admitted to doing so in private. In 2000 they got back together for a one off tour and album, Klaar (Finished or Ready, whichever way you want to interpret it).

For a couple of years, Doe Maar led a fringe existence. The band had decided to break up, but were looking for a new bass player to replace Piet Dekker in order to wrap up their performance obligations and to finish recording the second (and what was then thought to be the last) album.

They approached professional player and composer Henny Vrienten, who refused at first, because Doe Maar did not look like the right step in anybody's career. However, Vrienten decided eventually to join. With two gifted song writers now in their midst (the other being Ernst Janz), Doe Maar took off.

[edit] Lucky break

The record company was still not convinced of the quality of Doe Maar's work and held back the release of the album, Skunk, until after the december season and after carnival, because they felt that the bands offering would not survive amidst bigger names.

However, the record company did start marketing the album and samples were sent to the radio stations. Due to an error, the DJs did not know that the record had not been released and were happy to have some quality amongst the usual vulgar carnaval music trash of the northern Netherlands.

Listeners immediately picked up on the song, "32 jaar" ("32 years old"), although they had difficulty remembering the original name "sinds 1 dag of 2" ("since a day or 2"), until radio DJ Frits Spits renamed it to the current title.

The huge success of Doe Maar cannot just be explained as a function of the quality of their music. Here are some possible explanations.

In the late seventies, the pop landscape in the Netherlands was pretty barren. It may just have been a matter of Doe Maar being a definite injection of quality at the right time.

One of the strange things of their success was that they were hugely admired by young teenage girls.

Doe Maar had two older front men: as Henny Vrienten sings, he was 32 at the time and Ernst Janz was of a similar age. However, they were good looking in their own way and what's more, their songs were unusually raw, honest, direct.

Of course, the feedback function of any hype could have played a role: once Doe Maar were recognised (consciously or unconsciously) as a hype, they in effect were a hype.

The band had a hard time dealing with the success. They did not revel in seeing tens or hundreds of young girls fainting in overly crowded hot venues, nor did they particularly seem to like the overnight and complete loss of privacy. Telling may be the name and a stanza from their song 'Eén nacht alleen' (One night alone)