Cornelis Vreeswijk – “Vaggvisa” (Lullaby) & Sarah Riedel ft. Nikolai Dunger – “Vaggvisa”.

Hey people! 🙂

So today I thought we’d listen to a lullaby. I love love listening to lullabies, and not just for sleep. They are very comforting and often have either a fair bit of folklore in them or hide something interesting in between the lines about the times when they were sung/written, kind of like this one although in this one I guess it’s not even hidden very deeply at all but rather straightforward.

This lullaby was written by Cornelis Vreeswijk (one of my faza people, if you don’t know yet) for his son, Jack, and recorded on his debut album in 1964, so exactly the year when Jack was born. It reminds me of very old Polish lullabies, which often go something like this in a nutshell: sleep, my little baby, while you have the time for such luxuries, and while you sleep, grow very big and strong and grow very quickly, so you can start working right away, preferably tomorrow, and help your poor old mother or father because that’s how life works and once you’re big and strong you’ll only get to sleep after you die. I suppose it may not be just a Polish phenomenon but simply something I happened to notice with Polish lullabies specifically.

This lullaby is kind of similar to that pattern, and, given that Cornelis had a lot of knowledge of European folklore and various motives in it and used them a lot, I wonder if he knew about that lullabies actually used to be very much like that in the past and whether this similarity was intended. Here, little Jack, who can’t have more than half a year, is already being made aware of how life generally sucks and is all about making money, so he should take his time to sleep now when he has it. I’m not sure how good a strategy that seriously is to convincing your child to sleep, I’d be afraid I’m going to raise a neurotic and a ruminator who won’t sleep at night because of thinking about all the shitty stuff that is awaiting him in the future, but perhaps that’s just me as I’m a neurotic ruminator myself.

Whether this similarity to old lullabies was or was not intended, surely his main inspiration behind it, just like a lot of his other music, were his strongly socialist views, which shows clearly and I guess especially when you know about his leanings in this direction, but also, since it’s a lullaby, here I feel it isn’t as much in-your-face with the socialism as some of his other songs are. I – being anything but socialist – really love it, which I can’t say about all of his works because I simply do not agree with a lot of stuff in them. Whether you are a socialist or not, I guess most of us agree that adulting is shitty and the idea of being a carefree baby who can sleep the time away, be taken care of, have everything he wants and be free (because for Cornelis, from what we can assume from his other lullaby, one is only free when one is asleep) is more appealing, at least to us escapists for sure.

I also really love this song musically. Vreeswijk, while highly regarded in Sweden for his lyricism, language skills, expression and guitar style, is not considered the greatest composer and I totally agree, usually those of his songs who were composed by other people sound better. Yet there are some absolutely mind-blowing exceptions (I’m thinking “Grimasch om Morgonen” for example, which I’ve shared on my blog before) and “Vaggvisa” is one of them, at least to me. It’s just a simple tune and there’s just Cornelis and the guitar, but there’s something very grand about it.

For comparison, I also want to share with you a cover version from the album Cornelis vs Riedel, where there are Cornelis’ poems in Georg Riedel’s jazz arrangements, sung by his daughter Sarah Riedel and Nikolai Dunger, and a few of his already published songs but with new melodies composed by Riedel. Even though I’m not a huge fan of jazz, I really love this album because there’s just so much real feeling in it, so much care put into it and it’s very friendly for a jazz layman like myself. Their version does not have the same lyrics as the one Cornelis originally wrote for Jack, but they are from the film Rännstensungar (Guttersnipes), where Cornelis played Johan Fahlen and sang this lullaby in this shortened and more neutral, less personalised version to Ninni – the main character. – One day I may also share this song sung by Jack himself.

Below is my attempt at translating the lyrics (the original ones), very literally of course, just to give you an idea what this is about. I’ve always found that metaphor here about working hard as the cat very amusing, ’cause since which time do cats work hard. 😀 I don’t think this is a legit Swedish idiom, never heard of it, and I doubt it especially that it’s “the cat”, so it looks like he means some specific cat. I wonder why is that, perhaps just for the sake of rhyming? As for the factory thing in the lyrics, among quite a few things that Cornelis did before becoming a singer and poet, he did work in a factory for a while.

 

  Sleep now, my little prince

When I turn the light off

Father is going to his machine

Mother shall guard the house

Sleep now, prince, you who can

Father he goes to the factory

Working hard like the cat

All night long.

The moon shines yellow and full

Up on the sky

Life is a money game

Nobody gets away

Complaining doesn’t help, comrade

Banners and placards

You can’t eat

The prince should know it.

Relax now, little prince

You have plenty of time

Use it when there is a chance

Then there will be hurry

Then there will be trouble and battle

For piece work and overtime

Don’t worry for now

Just take it easy.

Sleep now, my little prince

When I turn the light of

Father is going to his machine

Mother shall guard the house

Here at mother’s you are fine

Mother has everything you want to have

For I can promise it

Now the prince shall sleep

   Cornelis Vreeswijk:

Sarah Riedel ft. Nikolai Dunger:

Cornelis Vreeswijk – “Droskblues” & Jack Vreeswijk – “Efter Midnatt” (After Midnight).

Hey people! 🙂

Maybe it’s not the best time to share a song like this – talking about all the crazy stuff that is going on after midnight in what we could call the margins of society – (it’s not even 10 AM here when I’m writing this) but I figured it doesn’t really matter in the grand scheme of things since people are in different timezones and maybe you’re going to read this and listen to this song in the future, after midnight.

When I first heard this song sung by Cornelis Vreeswijk (who is, as you may already know, one of my faza people),

at the age of 17, and was able to roughly understand what it was about, I found it a bit creepy, but not in a somehow deterrent way, more like an interestingly creepy way. I also just like the bluesy sound of it.

Cornelis is quite known for having translated a lot of songs from other languages, mostly American though, and this one is no exception. It’s relatively recently that I learned that it’s not really his original song. It can be difficult to figure out sometimes if you don’t know the original version, because most often, his translations are quite loose and more like variations onn a theme rather than proper covers of the songs just in a different language. This particular song was originally written and performed by J.J. Cale and is known as After Midnight.

I feel that Vreeswijk’s version, even though it’s not written in first person like Cale’s, is more to-the-point and in-your-face. I can understand most of the lyrics (although I don’t even know what what the drosk- in Droskblues means) but there are a few lines which I don’t really know how to translate, so I figured that, to give you some  idea of what it’s about, I’ll share the original, English lyrics. What they differ in is that, like I said, Cornelis’ version is more graphic, and all sorts of people like directors, pimps, organisers and entrepreneurs, nymphomaniacs, drug addicts, are mentioned specifically. The ladies start their season, basically, all the yucky stuff that you don’t see during the day comes out. It has generally richer lyrics than the original, but well, Vreeswijk was also a poet, after all.

Additionally, I decided I’ll also share with you another version of this song, called “Efter Midnatt” and performed by Jack Vreeswijk – Cornelis’ son. – I like Jack a lot, but in this case I like his version a lot less than Cornelis’. I don’t dislike it, or I wouldn’t share it on here, but it’s not very interesting musically, oh, and my least favourite instrument is saxophone and it’s quite prominent in here. Besides, when I first heard his version, it literally made me laugh because I think his melody totally doesn’t match the lyrics. I often don’t mind and even really like songs which have dark, sad, depressing, scary etc. lyrics and a very upbeat melody when it’s clearly on purpose and kind of a way of being sarcastic or something, but here, I don’t think it’s on purpose at all.

So here are the J.J. Cale lyrics:

 

After midnight, we’re gonna let it all hang down

After midnight, we’re gonna chug-a-lug and shout

We’re gonna stimulate some action

We’re gonna get some satisfaction

We’re gonna find out what it is all about

After midnight, we’re gonna let it all hang down (after midnight, after midnight)

After midnight, we’re gonna shake your tambourine (after midnight, after midnight)

After midnight, it’s all gonna be peaches and cream (after midnight, after midnight)

We’re gonna cause talk and suspicion

We’re gonna give an exhibition

We’re gonna find out what it is all about (what it is all about) (what it is all about)

After midnight, we’re gonna let it all hang down (we’re gonna let it all hang down)

(We’re gonna let it all hang down)

After midnight, we’re gonna let it all hang down

After midnight, we’re gonna shake your tambourine

(We’re gonna shake your tambourine) (we’re gonna shake your tambourine)

After midnight, it’s all gonna be peaches and cream

(We’re gonna shake your tambourine) (we’re gonna shake your tambourine)

We’re gonna cause talk and suspicion

We’re gonna give an exhibition

We’re gonna find out what it is all about (what it is all about, what it is all about)

After midnight, we’re gonna let it all hang down (after midnight, after midnight)

After midnight, we’re gonna let it all hang down

(We’re gonna let it all hang down) we’re gonna let it all hang down)

After midnight, we’re gonna let it all hang down

(We’re gonna let it all hang down) (we’re gonna let it all hang down)

After midnight, we’re gonna let it all hang down

(We’re gonna let it all hang down) (we’re gonna let it all hang down)

After midnight, we’re gonna let it all hang down

(We’re gonna let it all hang down) (we’re gonna let it all hang down)

Cornelis Vreeswijk’s version:

Jack Vreeswijk’s version:

It’s not on YouTube, but here are other streaming platforms where you can find it:

Jack Vreeswijk – “Efter Midnatt”.

 

Jack Vreeswijk – “Lilla Regn” (Little Rain) and Georg Riedel & Sarah Riedel – “Lilla Regn”.

Hi people! 🙂

Today, I will share with you another poem-song written by Cornelis Vreeswijk. With this one, I am sure it was written by him and as it seems originally was intended as a poem and not as a song as it didn’t seem to have a melody. The interesting thing about this poem which later became a song though, that I want to show you, is what came out of that it didn’t have a melody in the first place. Namely now people who cover Vreeswijk have all the freedom in the world to create their own, and here we have almost two different songs, very different in style yet with the same (only slightly varying) lyrics.

The poem – maybe a little surprisingly for someone who would know about Cornelis and roughly about what kinds of things he wrote – is not political, not a protest, not about people/society, not about love, not about Ann-Katrin Rosenblad (his muse) and not even about drinking. It’s, as you can guess from the title, about rain. Little rain. He addresses it in a way that makes you think this rain is a child. It’s a gentle encouragement for it to fall. “Of course the Earth is heavy and cold, but rain anyway”. And when it finally has fallen, the birds are hesitantly starting to sing more and more.

I think it’s very nice, and the two totally different musical versions take two totally differing looks at it.

Jack’s version comes from the same album from which is his last song that I shared with you – “Till Den Det Vederbör” – also written by Cornelis. Jack composed the music to it (or so I assume it was Jack) and it feels very deep but also minimalistic.

And then there’s another version of it composed by Georg Riedel, who is a Swedish jazz musician, and sung by his very talented and sensitive daughter Sarah on their album Cornelis vs Riedel. I’ve already shared a song from this album much earlier that was also sung by Sarah – “Se Här Dansar Fredrik Åkare”. – This is a very carefully made, heartfelt and refined album and both Sarah Riedel and Nikolai Dunger (who is another singer on this album) do a great job, in my opinion, of conveying the feel of each of these songs, as if they really took a lot of time to truly feel them and could relate to them personally. It is a very jazzy album as both Georg and Sarah Riedel are jazz people, which is normally something that would discourage me more or less as I usually don’t have a strong connection with jazz music, but here it doesn’t bother me at all and is great since Cornelis himself also drew from and was inspired by jazz among other genres, and it was his more jazzy songs that convinced me that jazz doesn’t always have to be awful and incomprehensive.

And so I seriously don’t know which version I like more. I wonder which one would be Cornelis’ favourite. And how about you guys? Do you like one of these more than the other?

 

Jack Vreeswijk – “Till Den Det Vederbör” (To The Concerned).

I’ve decided to share this song with you quite spontaneously, as I didn’t have any other ideas planned. And I have sort of mixed feelings about it because I feel I didn’t research it quite as well as I should, or perhaps there’s just not enough info on this. Usually if I post a song for you guys – and especially if it’s in another language – I try to put it in a context so even if, as it often happens, there is no translation, and I am unable to provide it myself, you can have a basic idea of what it’s about and what was the background of it. Here, I know very, very little.

I was listening to Jack Vreeswijk a while back, as I hadn’t in a long time and wanted to refresh some of his music for myself. And when listening to this song and trying to understand its lyrics (which I always prefer to do when having them written especially if I’m not sure of something and that was the case here) I learned that this was written by Cornelis Vreeswijk (which is actually no surprise when you look at them more closely) and Jack Vreeswijk. In case someone feels confused, Jack is the son of Cornelis. I’ve written a lot about Cornelis Vreeswijk on my blog before as he’s been one of my major fazas but to sum up quickly, he was a Swedish singer, songwriter, poet, guitarist and actor born in Netherlands, he passed away in 1987 (way too early) but his son, Jack, is still alive and also sings as well as composes music, often drawing from his father’s huge legacy and covering his songs not too badly at all (only when you compare him with Cornelis he just… ahem… lacks that charisma a little bit, so this is a clear example why we should not compare people to each other and why following your parent’s career isn’t always the best choice if you do not want to be compared. But don’t get me wrong, I do like Jack. A lot. I just see a lot that people compare him, and I do too, and I’ve heard how on his concerts people are far more enthusiastic about hearing his covers of his dad’s music rather than his own songs. Although maybe it’s just how I interpret or maybe it’s just me who would feel awful about myself and my music if I were in his shoes). I wonder whether this piece was originally a poem to which Jack composed music later on (it does musically sound more Jack-esque) or a poem late enough that Cornelis could somehow write it in collaboration with Jack (I’ve never heard about them ever having such collaborations but who knows, right?…) or a song that was unpublished or somehow very obscure or something. And if it was a poem, was it actually published in any of Cornelis’ poetry books or not? I can’t find any info or hint anywhere about it in another context than it being a song by Jack, but thenn I don’t have Cornelis’ poetry books as such so it’s possible it is there somewhere.

Moreover, I don’t really know the context of the lyrics. I can understand them quite well – although because neither Swedish nor English is my native language I don’t think it would be a good idea if I tried translating something I don’t have much of an idea what it’s more broadly about, also there are some single words I am not sure what they mean in here – and I couldn’t find a translation either.

But I just found this song interesting because the lyrics made me think, they’re intriguing, murky, weird and haunting. I’m not sure I like them as such but I don’t necessarily always love Cornelis’ lyrics, I doon’t have to agree with them and I often don’t, I don’t have to relate, there’s just something else that is not about plain liking. And I’m always excited to see something new from Cornelis (see how some people are so prolific that even after their death it feels like their creativity is a whole endless well), though I’d like to have more of an understanding of it, perhaps I will over time. Also I feel like I haven’t shared anything by Jack in a very, very long time. So basically these are the reasons why I decided to share with you guys a song about which I know next to nothing, and perhaps you’ll like something about it too. 🙂

Jack Vreeswijk – “Gull Är Död” (Gull Is Dead).

Hi guys. 🙂

Today is Jack Vreeswijk’s 55th birthday, if I count correctly. Happy birthday, Jack!!! 😍To avoid any confusion, and I guess it can be a bit confusing for the uninitiated, everyone in my surroundings who doesn’t know Jack, so most people, get confused which Vreeswijk is which and, especially that I love the name Jack, they usually think it’s Jack who is my crush. Jack is the son of Cornelis, and he is also a singer, and Cornelis is – besides Jack’s father – the one on whom I’ve had a crush, and whose poems I’ve been trying so desperately to translate to Polish, and he passed away over 30 years ago when Jack was 23 I believe. But Jack is still alive. I think Jack is also great, although luckily in his own way and not a copy cat of his dad, I’m glad he has his own individuality, even though he has made some covers of Cornelis’ songs, I like him a lot. And I think the song I’m going to show you is interesting. As for Gull, it’s a feminine Nordic name. So, let’s celebrate Jack’s birthday and listen to some of his music. 🙂

Song of the day – Jack Vreeswijk – Rosenblad, Rosenblad.

Hi people! 🙂

Today’s song is in Swedish as well. I decided that since I showed you something from Cornelis Vreeswijk already, we shouldn’t forget about his son – Jack.

Jack (or Lars Jacob) Vreeswijk was born on January 25th 1964 and his mother is Cornelis’ first wife, Ingalill Rehnberg. Having such an unusual and complicated father Jack had undoubtedly very interesting, but also a bit chaotic childhood. He decided to follow his father’s footsteps and become a musician.

Of course, because his dad is so much beloved in Sweden, he is widely known as his son over there and often covers his songs, but has also quite a lot of his own.

“Rosenblad, Rosenblad” is Cornelis’ song though. However, as much as I love Cornelis music, as for “Rosenblad…” I feel like Jack’s version speaks to me more.

The song is really expressive and just great I think. As for the word Rosenblad, it may mean rose leaf in Swedish, but it is also a surname of Vreeswijk’s fictional muse, Ann-Katrrin Rosenblad.

I guess this song doesn’t exist on Youtube in the album version, so I will give you the link to it on Spotify. Hope you don’t mind.