Hey people! 🙂
Thought that I’d share another song by Cornelis Vreeswijk with you today, one from his debut album from 1964. It is called, as you can figure out from the title, “Balladen Om Fredrik Åkare” and it should not be confused with one I shared before and that is very popular in Sweden – “Balladen Om Herr Fredrik Åkare Och Den Söta Fröken Cecilia Lind”, that one was later.
From what I’ve read, this Fredrik Åkare guy (whose name could also be translated to English as Fredrik Rider), is based on a real life person, that is Cornelis’ brother-in-law, husband of his younger sister Ida. Somewhere else though I’ve read that he was something like Vreeswijk’s alter ego, so I am a bit confused, but I guess it could simply be so that Fredrik Åkare played slightly different roles in different songs, depending what he was needed for, and he could as well have been some sort of a blend of these two people, anyway he is one of those characters (like Ann-Kat(a)rin Rosenblad, that I wrote about a little before
who appear quite regularly in his various lyrics and poems.
This song has always had such a depressive and resigned feel to me. I don’t feel like writing a translation and I don’t want to botch it, so I thought I’ll just tell you what it is about, which is strongly from my point of view, the way I understand and feel this piece.
The lyrical subject – I think we cann assume that here it’s the author – meets Fredrik Åkare somewhere out in Stockholm – as Cornelis once said at one of his later concerts, this was in January, on a cold, early morning. – They meet, presumably after not seeing each other after quite a long time, and just have a friendly catchup, although it is mostly Fredrik talking and pouring his brains out, because it turns out that a lot has changed in his life since they’d last seen each other. He’s been wandering aimlessly, not really sure of anything in his life as it seems. When the lyrical subject asks him about his wife, he says that, indeed, he had a wife, but he has divorced her. He also says that she has taken everything they/he had, so he’s pretty much left with nothing, but he doesn’t give a fuck, as he says. So he’s just kind of living without any purpose or anything, walking around Stockholm like that, seemingly unsure about anything in his life, whether future or past, kind of oblivious to whatever is going to happen and letting things go however they will in a bit of an apathetic manner I’d say, or as he says himself – “like in a trance”. – But what is most important to him is that now – after a lot of emotional upheaval and sorrow – he is free.
I must say I don’t really get this understanding of freedom – being left with nothing, even without a family you used to have, and it especially doesn’t speak to me because he doesn’t really seem all that happy with this arrangement, and life still sucks for him, but I suppose it was just the next best thing, in his opinion. This frantic looking for freedom is quite characteristic of a lot of Cornelis’ lyrics or poems and it always makes me sad when I think of it because it doesn’t seem like he ever found it during his life. But then, does anyone? It’s probably just that some people lack it even more and so feel it a lot more keenly, dealing with all sorts of addictions and other things like that. Cornelis himself was married to three women over the course of his life and divorced all of them, but this bit about Fredrik Åkare’s divorce can’t be inspired by his personal experiences because if I remember correctly he married his first wife, Ingalill Rehnberg, the same year that his debut album came out, and he was with Ingalill for four years. Not that it wasn’t a difficult relationship from the start, from what I know.
So yeah, a depressing piece really, or so it is to me.