May 10, 2021

Heintje: A Boy to Introduce to Your Grandma

 Heintje Simons (or just Heintje) became famous at age 11 for his syrupy, sentimental, soprano recording of "Mama" (1967).

Mama, you shouldn't weep for your boy
Mama, the fates will unite us once again

More hits followed, in Dutch, German, French, and English:
"Du sollst nicht weinen" ("Don't Cry," 1968)
"Ich bau' dir ein Schloss" ("I'll Build You a Castle," 1969)
"Ik hou van Holland" ("I Love Holland," 1970)
"I'm Your Little Boy" (1970)
"Jij bent der allerbest" ("You're the Best", 1971).

Just as syrupy, sentimental, and soprano.

This type of music is called schlager in German and levenslied in Dutch -- slow, sentimental, mostly about being homesick and missing Mom (other schlager artists include Hans-Jurgen Baumler

 Heintje was singing to parents, or maybe to grandparents, the type who pinched his cheek and exclaimed  "What a nice boy! Not like those dreadful hippies!"  He was the anti-hippie, offering a conformist alternative to the Beatles, the Rolling Stones, the Grateful Dead.

And therefore a remedy to the heterosexism of most 1960s music.

At the same time Heintje started on a film career, mostly tearjerkers with his name in the title
Heintje -- A Heart Goes on a Journey (1969)
Heintje -- My Best Friend (1970); his best friend is a dog who dies.
Heintje -- Someday the Sun will Shine Again (1970)

To bring in the kid and teen audience, he also played schoolboys who reject the conformity of the establishment:
To Hell with School (1968)
Hurray, the School is Burning! (1970)
Tomorrow the School will Fall (1971)

I've only see clips, but they seem to displace heterosexual intrigues onto the adult performers, leaving Heintje and his friends in a homoromantic Arcadia.

When he was 16 and his voice changed, Heintje' attraction to grandmothers and nuns faded.  Taking on an adult name, Heintje Simons, he continued to record and perform in Dutch, German, French, Japanese, and Afrikaans, but with nothing like the fervor of the 1960s.   Today he lives on a horse farm in Belgium with his wife and three kids.


  1. Heterosexism wasn't as prominent in Europe. In America, even these sopranos were expected to get The Girl. (Spoiler: If he's a soprano, he likely hasn't noticed girls yet. Let boys be boys; the time to be men will come.)

  2. He was a cute boy with a beautiful voice


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