The Bremen Town Musicians
Building Family and Community through Experiences, Diversity, and Heroism
Like many stories, the story of Die Bremer Stadtmusikanten or the Bremen town musicians tells a brave story of four animals who held more potential than the people around them could see. Each animal is different in its species, talents, and abilities.Each player has a micro story within the macro world of the the traveling musicians, whom together, became the rag tag group of
misfit would be music makers.
Once there lived a donkey who worked hard for his master, but as the donkey aged, his strength began to fail him. As he struggled to carry the heavy items on the farm, his master considered not feeding him anymore. The donkey was a very intuitive animal and knew that something ill blew in the wind for him, so he decided to run away, setting off to Bremen in hopes of becoming a town musician.
Growing out of our life roles is something many people experience. Sometimes we find in our lives that what we had been doing for so long may not fit our lives anymore. The story says the donkey ran away, however, from another perspective, he was simply looking for a new purpose in his life. Since the donkey would not be fed, due to no longer being fit for his use to the farmer, he chose to transition and earn a livelihood in a different way, making music.
On his way to Bremen, the donkey met a dog who was bemoaning his fate. When the Donkey asked the dog why he was so upset, the dog cried,
” Oh my friend, I am too old to hunt and my master has no use for me. My master wanted to put me down, so I ran away, but now I have no way to earn a living or feed myself.”
The donkey felt bad for the dog and asked him if he wished to accompany him to Bremen, where they could become town musicians. The dog was overjoyed and agreed to go with the donkey. The two were set, the donkey said the dog could play the drums and he would play the lute. They would find new lives in Bremen
But like the donkey, the dog, found he had different interests and life was changinging for him, as well. This didn’t mean he was no longer useful in the world, it meant that a transformation in his life could bring him new purpose. By befriending the donkey, they would both find new purposes and rely on each other for friendship, support, and the unique talents each brought to the newly formed traveling duo.
The dog and the donkey would travel for a day and night before meeting a sad and frightened cat. Like the dog and the donkey, the cat was no longer performing the expected societal contributions placed upon him by his mistress. As the cat had grown older, he no longer had the energy to chase away the mice and he purr-ferred to sleep in front of the fire and in the sun. When the two travelers met the cat, he wailed and cried, he stated,
“Aye my friends, my mistress says I am useless and says I should be drowned for she does not wish to feed me anymore.”
The donkey and the dog, understanding what it was like to feel unwanted and threatened with starvation and death, asked the cat if he too wished to join them on the road to Bremen.
The Donkey told the cat, “Since you make such wonderful night music, you can come with us, we shall earn a living together and have enough to eat without the threat of our owners.
The cat thought about this for a moment, and decided that it was better to go and try this idea than be drowned. So the cat jumped up onto the dog’s back who was sitting on the donkey’s back. They began to look like a tower of
misfitfugitives who wold turn heads as they clanged, clatters, and yowled their music through the towns, on the way to Bremen.
The cat was hesitant to go with the odd duo, flashes of doubts and anxiety struck him as he gave the offer some thought. “What if he makes this change and then regretted it,” he thought. What if he could never go back to what he was before? All of these thoughts plagued the cat, but he knew he would not be happy and if he stayed this way, he might not survive. He decided that this new transformation would be the best for his continued happiness.
The cat faced his fears and agreed to go with the duo. He knew had had made new friends and would have support in this new life, support he wouldn’t have in his old life.
misfittrio made their way to Bremen, they could hear and awful and sad crowing of a rooster coming from a nearby farm. Upon investigation, the trip found a very distraught rooster atop a silo, crowing non-stop through the day.
“Why do you crow so much, are you not only supposed to do that as the sunrises,” asked the cat. “Oh, but I am to be made into soup, because my master is not happy with me,” cried the rooster
The trio asked the rooster if he would like to join them, they exclaimed that his singinging was wonderful and they would love to have him as part of their musical group. With no hesitation, the rooster jumped from the silo and landed on the back of the cat.
Quickly the rooster jumped on the back of the cat. He knew this would be his only escape, the farmer became increasingly angry that the rooster spent time with both other roosters and hens. The farmer only wanted a rooster who would spend time with the hens and fertilize the eggs for him. The rooster was in danger of becoming soup as the farmer was off to market to find a new rooster who would only spend time with the hens.
The newly formed group of would be
misfitmusicians continued on their way to Bremen singing and clanging as they went. The newly formed quartet found the road to Bremen leading them into the forest of Germany. The quartet found the forest as the sun was setting and the shadows overtook the trees. In the distance the quartet could see a the gentle glow of what looked to be a house. As the quartet approached, the cat climbed up on the house, recognizing the inhabitants as well known crooks and robbers. The quartet then decided they would try and startel the crooks from the house.
The Donkey told the other three that they would all start to sing and beat the ground. The donkey counted them down, Drei, Zwei, Eins, and as soon as he said Eins ( one) the quartet started to play their music. What the quartet didn’t realize was their music was not as finely tuned or polished as they thought. The reality was, it sounded like a barnyard perpetually falling down the M.C Escher stairs.
The loud noise scared the robbers so badly they fled the house through the back door. Once the robbers had left, the quartet decided to take over the house. Being tired, the cat made sure the candles were extinguished, and then curled up by the fire. The house was cozy, and dark, with only the flickers of the fireplace flames, illuminating enigmatic shadows.
The dog curled up by the front door, the rooster perched upon a shelf and the donkey decided he would sleep in outside in front of the door.
The leader of the crooks, Hal Statt, thought it was silly to have been so scared and decided he would go back to the house. Upon arrival, he found the house dark and quiet. Entering through the back he crept toward the fireplace to light a match. As he attempted to light the match over the glowing coals, he found he couldn’t get it to light. What he thought were coals were actually the reflection of the fire in the cats eyes. The cat, in no mood to have matches in his eyes jumped up, yowled and scratched the Hal in the face. Hal stumbled back, stepping on the dog, triggering the dog to bite Hal. Hal screamed, startling the rooster who, not fully awake, crowed loudly, scaring Hal out the front door, where the donkey kicked Hal sending him tumbling down the pathway.
Completely horrified, Hal returned to the rest of the robbers, Wolf-Gang, Hans Ober, and Hagen Westen, exclaiming he had been attacked by a witch, and they could never returned to the house, for it was cursed.
The quartet sadly never made it to their destination. In fact they stayed and lived in that house because they had everything they needed. The robbers stockpile of stolen food and goods would keep them happy for the rest of their lives. They stayed and lived as a family in that house, knowing the robbers would probably never return.
Readers may be as surprised to know, but this may be the only time I can tell you a Grimm inspired story with a happy ending. The animals were cast out of their own families, because they no longer fit in, never fit in, or no longer were deemed useful. Instead, they formed their own family together, worked together, fought together, and lived happily ever after together.
A Family is not only about blood and shared genetic, in fact these variables often have less to do with the formation of kinship and family bonds. Anthropologists often say kinship is less about whom you share blood with and more about with whom you eat. The unlikely quartet became family in the end, feeling more connection, love, and happiness than they ever did in their own lives. None related by blood, but all related by shared experiences and heroic efforts.
Now, when you find yourself on the road to Bremen, seeking new opportunities and meaning, don’t be sad if you don’t make it to your destination. Bremen can be found anywhere, for it is the meaning of a new start and possibly a new family, especially if you have been cast out, mistreated, or misunderstood.
So, I am sure you know that you can never take what could have been and make it so. However, you can take your current and future potential, and transform your life into something even more amazing.