Do you know, lovely people, what a nice holiday we have today? Ha! You surely don’t know. Unless you’re Swedish, or a freak like me, or maybe if you’re Dutch, or maybe, maybe if you’re from any Scandinavian country other than Sweden, perhaps you may know too. So I’m here to enlighten you!
Today, 8th August, is my previous crush’s – Cornelis Vreeswijk – birthday. But because as you probably already know, when I move on from one music crush to the next, I don’t leave the previous one, it only sort of fades, being dominated by a new crush, therefore technically you can say I’m still somewhat crushing on him. And, if by any chance you, my reader, are Swedish, I know it may be slightly or not so slightly weird to you, the more that he’s passed away quite a while before I was born, but… what can I do about it? Assuming that I’d really want to do something with it, but honestly I don’t.
So yeah, Cornelis would be 81 if he’d still be between us. I hope he’s having a great birthday wherever he is now…
You’d think that if it’s his birthday, and I happen to be so fascinated by his music and poetry that I even want to try to translate it to Polish, then I should choose a song of the day by him, but I decided to do it a bit differently this time.
You see, despite Vreeswijk was Dutch, he’s been actually more known in Sweden than Netherlands, because he and his family emigrated there when he was 12. And he seems to be very liked there. Or anyway, very famous. I guess he’s to controversial to be very liked, people there seem to either love him or hate him.
And if you’re a famous musician, especially if you’ve left this mundane world, you can expect many other, famous and not famous, and maybe even infamous, musicians to be inspired by your music in any way. And so is also with Cornelis.
There are a lot of Swedish artists covering his songs, or who are inspired with his style, making tribute songs, or trying to caricature his style or something.
A few years ago, when I started to explore Spotify, I also started to explore all kinds of covers of his songs, beautiful and cringy ones, and I’ve found a few that are still my huge favourites.
Including an album, called “Cornelis vs. Riedel”. It’s pretty jazzy, I’m not very big on jazz, but because of Vreeswijk I’ve got a very tiny little bit more liking and understanding of it, as it’s one of the genres he liked to incorporate in his music.
“Cornelis Vs. Riedel” is a compillation of Cornelis’s poems, with melodies composed by a Swedish jaz musician of Czechoslovakian descent – Georg Riedel, and sung by Sarah Riedel – Georg Riedel’s daughter – and Nikolai Dunger. With a few exceptions, these poems have never been sung by Cornelis, and the two ones that have been got completely new melodies from Riedel. With all his genius and versatility, I don’t think Vreeswijk had a particular talent for composing, so I found this very interesting.
And oh what I particularly love about this album is the expressivity, and all the emotions. I just love the vocalists for how they feel these lyrics, how they really involve in what they are singing about.
The song I want to show you is called “Se Här Dansar Fredrik Åkare”, very roughly translated Look Here Fredrik Åkare Is Dancing. Now who is this guy, Fredrik Åkare?
I must tell you, I wondered about it for quite a while since I got to know Cornelis’ music. He is often mentioned in his songs. I guess we need to just look at him as a fictional or half-fictional character, one of a few that we can meet in Cornelis’s songs and poems. However people say that his real life equivalent was Nisse Gustafsson – one of his sisters’ friend or boyfriend, or something like this. – Though I’ve also heard that Cornelis himself might be Fredrik Åkare, and I pretty much lean to it because it just looks like it could be him. Even in this song, for me it seems to be just about Cornelis.
Do you remember the song I once shared with you, also by Cornelis – “Balladen Om Herr Fredrik Åkare Och Den Söta Fröken Cecilia Lind” (The Ballad About MR Fredrik Åkare And The Sweet Miss Cecilia Lind)?
I look at this song I’m sharing with you today, as a sort of continuation to that one. Because in that song, as you might remember I wrote, there is a sort of party, people are dancing in the barn in the village, he – is meeting the nearly 17-year-old girl, much younger than himself, called Cecilia Lind, they fall in love with each other, are dancing together, people are indignant because it’s a shame that two people with such a difference in their age are dancing and lookk as they’re very cllose to each other, they say Cecilia’s too young for him. He accompanies her t her house and kisses her on their way home, and the story doesn’t have any speciffic or definite ending.
And then we have this song. We know that the full moon is shining (why is there so much full moon in Vreeswijk’s lyrics? :O Swedes love sun, he seems to be much more inclined to the moon), just like at that rural party or whatever it was and however such things are called in English, and Fredrik is dancing on empty streets (so it’s the night time, right?) and we also get to know he’s dancing aimlessly and not going anywhere in particular. He is also tipsy and is hurting emotionally, or so I understand from the lyrics, though I’m not sure if that’s exact.
From the second verse we also know he’s singing – about the stars, and about Cecilia Lind, and about all that he wants to forget and drown in a bottle of wine – pretty classic theme as for Vreeswijk.
Then the third verse is from the author’s perspective, saying that he has made a little song because then it’s easier to dance [when you have the music]. And that this song is about that you’ll never get what you want the most. And what you’ll get instead, you will be always disappointed with.
Reminds me strongly about Cornelis’ life, his struggles, and about what I know about his relationships with other people.
When I first heard this song, I actually cried – and as I told you a few times before it’s not that easy nowadays to move me this strongly, but I was very moved, also Sarah’s vocals themselves are very moving.
But what else spoke to me, was that in some more metaphorical way I felt like it’s also about me. I’ve told you before that paradoxically I feel like in some aspects my personality is pretty similar to Cornelis’, and that’s maybe why I like him and understand his music, and why it often speaks to me (excluding all the left-wing extremist ones, but even those are often quite true in a way 😀 ). I can’t find any other explanation, because objectively he’s not what I would call “my style”. OMG that’s all so weird! 😀
OK, so maybe, finally, after all that chit chat, time for the song? I guess so, I wrote way too much, but I wanted to give you some context, it’s stupid to listen to the song without its context if it’s deeper, and since there’s no language barrier here for me, if I can give you that context, then why not. Let me know what you think about it and how do you perceive it.
Unfortunately I’m forced to get the song from Spotify, I could’ve sworn I saw it like a year ago on Youtube, but now I can’t find it, so I don’t have much choice here.