Today I want to share a very popular Norwegian children’s song with you. It has been sung by a lot of different Norwegian artists, but I think my favourite version is that by Anne Marie Almedal, who is a pop singer from Kristiansand. The song was first published in a songbook by Norwegian teacher and children’s writer Margrethe Munthe. The below translation was written by Bibielz.
Today I’d like to share with you this very popular Welsh folk song, I guess it must be one of those Welsh-language songs that all Welsh people know, probably even those who don’t speak that much Welsh, or at least they sure must be familiar with it. I’ve already shared it in a lovely instrumental version played by Delyth & Angharad Jenkins and I included the lyrics to this song in that post. I quite like it because, as I wrote in that post, it sounds like whoever wrote it must have had dysthymia or something, as it’s all sad and woeful there and everything goes wrong for everyone. My faza peep, Gwilym Bowen Rhys, who sometimes sings this song at his gigs, actually says that it’s like a Welsh national blues song. And, well, since I have dysthymia and I like gloomy, as well as quirky stuff that doesn’t seem to make too much sense, I quite like this tune.
This is definitely not a debut for Cerys Matthews here on My Inner Mishmash, because I’ve already shared a few of her other Welsh songs, as well as one by Catatonia, a rock group in which she was the vocalist, for what she is best known. Her version of Sosban Fach comes from her solo album called Tir (Land), containing Welsh folk songs. It also contains one more verse which is not present in that translation I included in the post with Delyth & Angharad’s version, which is all about little Dai the soldier and his shirt tail and how the lyrical subject wishes that he would tuck it in, we also learn that his shirt was white with a blue stripe, which, you have to agree with me, is a vital piece of information from the listener’s perspective. 😀
For today, I have for you another piece from the Welsh harpist Llio Rhydderch, coming from her album Carn Ingli recorded together with Mark O’Connor and Tomos Williams. This seems to be Llio’s arrangement of a tune that’s otherwise known as Y Bachgen Bach o Dincer (The Little Tinker Lad) which I think I first heard sung by Yr Hwntws and which I believe is a traditional Welsh folk song.
Continuing yesterday’s lullaby theme, today I’d also like to share with you a lullaby/nursery rhyme. I really like this orchestral arrangement of Twinkle Twinkle Little Star, it makes it sound more interesting. It is performed by the Hobart-based Tasmanian Symphony Orchestra, the smallest of all the orchestras established by ABC.
Today I have for you a little traditional Welsh tune, performed by the singer and harpist Gwenan Gibbard, whose music I’ve shared a lot on here. I found a translation of it, written by Dafydd Iwan.
Little cuckoo, aren’t you foolish, Singing amongst the spiky gorse, Go to the parish of fair Dolgellau, You will find there green bushes. Little cuckoo, fly immediately To the banks of the Wnion river On the wing, wait awhile By the home of my beloved. Little cuckoo, if you see there Someone weeping salty tears Sing to him the song of spring A song of hope to comfort him.
Today I have a little nursery rhyme for you from the Irish singer and harpist Órla Fallon whom I really like. Órla is a soloist who is also known for previously being part of the very popular Irish group Celtic WOman. This little Irish Gaelic song is apparently frequently taught to children and it originates in Donegal. The translation below comes from Wikipedia.
Felimi’s little boat went to Gola, Felimi’s little boat and Felimi in it. Felimi’s little boat went to Gola, Felimi’s little boat and Felimi in it. A tiny boat, a lively boat, A charming boat, Felimi’s little boat. A straight boat, a willing boat, Felimi’s little boat and Felimi in it. Felimi’s little boat went to Tory, Felimi’s little boat and Felimi in it. Felimi’s little boat went to Tory Felimi’s little boat and Felimi in it. Felimi’s little boat broke on Tory, Felimi’s little boat and Felimi in it. Felimi’s little boat broke on Tory, Felimi’s little boat and Felimi in it. Felimi’s little boat broke on Tory, Fish on board and Felimi in it. Felimi’s little boat broke on Tory, Fish on board and Felimi in it.
Today let’s listen to a cheerful tune, a sort of drinking song I guess we could call it, from Clannad’s live album from Bremen. I’ve found a lot of crappy translations of this, and one that seems reliable which comes from here.
When I die, don’t bury me, but take me to the alehouse. I’d rather listen to the beat of drinking mugs than to the sweet music of the cuckoo. So fill to us the little jug and keep it full.
There is a girl in this village as lovely as you’ll find anywhere … so fill the jug …
Will come and will you stay, Dónal, and have you drunk enough?. I’ll come, not stay, and I’ll have a lovely girl if she takes my advice, so fill the jug …
This is a great town … and wouldn’t it be a good place for a young woman to dwell in, even for just a quarter of a year, so fill the jug …
Today I have a charming little Swedish folk tune for you all, from a band called Väsen, which name can mean anything from spirit or a living being, to noise in Swedish. Its members are Olof Johansson (nyckelharpa) and Mikael Marin (viola) and in this particular piece I’m sharing with you today we can also hear Roger Tallroth on guitar but I believe he’s no longer part of the group. A couple months ago, one of my readers wrote to me recommending this great band to me, and while I’ve been familiar with them for a long time, I was really glad that she did because I hadn’t actually listened to their music in ages. Väsen was one of the first bands that I discovered when I started to take an interest in the thing called Nordic folk, and learn things like that there is such an instrument as nyckelharpa (which I grew to really like but I’m sure I’ve already written about it a fair bit) or a Swedish folk dance called polska (which is not to be confused with polka or polonaise, though it has a lot of common ground with the latter) which I thought was very funny because Polska is the Polish word for Poland. So soon after she wrote to me I dove back into Väsen’s music, which brought a lot of great memories with it, because while the time when I started to discover Nordic folk coincided with a rather intense time in my life, it was also a very good time overall.
But I think my most favourite piece by Väsen is this little pizzicato waltz, I think it’s just so incredibly beautiful!
Sofia Karlsson is someone whose name has already appeared on my blog, twice, actually, but both of these times it was in the context of Cornelis Vreeswijk’s music, as I shared two songs of his that she has covered. Well, today the time has come to share with you guys a song that, as far as I know, is Sofia’s original song, because it’s most definitely not just those two covers of Cornelis’ songs that I like of Sofia’s music. I think Sofia Karlsson is a great singer, and what’s interesting is that despite being a “proper” folk singer (as in, not just folk-ish and sliding on the borders of the genre) her music seems to speak not only to those who generally like folk, but to a much wider audience, because she has been a best-selling artist not only in Sweden, but apparently in Denmark and Norway as well. More interestingly, it was her album Svarta Ballader (Black Ballads) with her arrangements of poems by Dan Andersson, which has made her such a prominent artist and garnered most attention, which is surprising because as far as I know it’s not like Dan Andersson is some extremely popular and widely known Swedish poet. Also I’ve heard her music several times in our Polish Radio Programme 2, whhich, as a classical/jazz/folk/all-round sophisticated stuff radio station does admittedly play a lot of obscure music, but I feel like if some non-Polish-language and non-Anglophone folk music is played in a Polish radio station, the artist has to be someone really successful in their home country, or their music has to be incredibly accessible so that the language barrier doesn’t matter to those to whom it usually tends to do.
Sofia Karlsson is from Stockholm and comes from a very musical family. One little detail that I, being a name nerd, find very cool and interesting about her is that she has an absolutely cute middle name, and I believe a very rare one, which is Blåsippa. Blåsippa is the Swedish name for the plant that is called hepatica nobilis in Latin (no idea if it has a more English-sounding name) and I’ve never come across this name in any other situation. I really like obscure flower names as given names. And I guess it must suit her because it’s an early spring flower, and she was born in early spring as well.
I actually first heard this song thanks to my friend, back when I was still hanging around in the blind online network where I used to blog in the past and stuff. It was when I was finally able to restart my Swedish learnning and became familiar with SOfia’s music, though not all of it yet, and introduced it to said friend, who really liked it, despite speaking no Swedish. And she must have done some further digging herself, ‘cause she found this song before I became acquainted with Sofia’s entire discography, and she in turn introduced it to me and I fell in love with it instantly. I wrote a translation of it for y’all, which is probably not without errors/things that could have been put better but generally wasn’t a very difficult thing to do.
Little Lisa, you turn your gaze towards the street Towards the asphalt, last year’s leaves And the air is heavy when you breathe And tastes old and dead It drips from the lime trees’ branches You are cold and you don’t see anything But you know where you are going Go now, little Lisa, go all the way in You’re walking there so quietly in the shadow And it blends in with your hair And the twilight’s dullest colours Wrestle with the beating rain But then you hear up from the grey A bird whistling a wind And you know that now you must go Go now, little Lisa, go all the way in Sometimes the time has pockets In which you put your freezing hands A little moment of warmth A little moment to live in Little Lisa, you are upstairs in the chamber And everything feels so dirty and small You sit down at the piano Want to play for faith and for hope But the tears are falling on the keys Because you shall leave today It hurts, but you must not hesitate Go now, little Lisa, it will get worse if you stay Little Lisa, you play your tango You live your Norrland blues So the heart jumps and flies And never comes to rest Little Lisa, you must now be brave Play strong and play now For your mum in heaven, for children that shall come Go now, little Lisa, go all the way out And the lonely out on the street They live for themselves and as before Can you feel it in your chest Then you’re still human The line is already drawn Little Lisa, the forests miss you Everything can be yours now The world is waiting to show itself Little Lisa, you turn your gaze to the sky And you hope for sunlight again And I promise that it soon will get better Go now, little Lisa, go all the way home Go now, little Lisa, go all the way home
It’s very happy times in Bibielland right now, because Gwilym Bowen Rhys – one of my faza people – has released a new album, the second one in his series of Detholiad o Hen Faledi (Selection of Old Ballads)! Something like this is always a huge event in Bibielland, not only simply because it’s a new album so most people who are into someone’s music would be naturally thrilled in such situation, but also because with my other faza people, I haven’t been quite as lucky in terms of their new albums. My first faza peep has been Enya, and she is very well-known for working for years on any new release, sometimes it takes so long that people start wondering whether she’ll actually release anything new. And so at the time when she was my dominant faza, I didn’t get to enjoy any new release from her, it was only after my faza on her has faded into the background that she released Dark Sky Island. Then there was Declan, who at the time of my dominant faza on him was studying and had a long break from his musical activity. And then there was Cornelis, who has left this world even before I came on it, so even though what he has left has always seemed to me like one huge, endlessly fertile well of creativity because he has recorded and written so extremely much, and then there are all the live recordings and lots of other things, and I kept stumbling upon something new to me all the time and even still do sometimes, there was obviously no hope for anything that would be actually, objectively new. So until Gwilym, the experience of my dominant faza peep releasing something new was unknown to me, and that’s why I feel absolutely spoilt by Gwilym. 😀 Especially when he released Detholiad O Hen Faledi I in July of 2018, and then Arenig in May 2019, so there wasn’t even a whole year between the two albums. I was as thrilled as if a young child would have been if she learned that she could have two big birthday parties in one year. 😀 We did have to wait for this new album nearly three years, I’m sure at least in some part due to Covid, but that makes it even more exciting.
I don’t know how these things work or whether perhaps I’ve missed something, but from what I’ve heard he has actually released it on March 1 (so Dydd Gwyll Dewi, or st. David’s Day in English, in case you don’t know st. David is a patron saint of Wales), except it seemed like it was still only available to preorder, until march 8 when I got an email that it’s available now. One of the best presents I could think of for myself for International Women’s Day, haha! I suppose if I really wanted I could have listened to it earlier directly from Bandcamp’s website, but I have to have the right conditions when listening to albums of my faza peeps for the first time so that I can absorb it thoroughly. Even on the day when I got it, I was waiting until the evening so that I could give it the first thorough listen in complete peace and once I did, needless to say, I enjoyed it very much, though a few more thorough listens are still due. I was already familiar with two of the songs featured on this album, as I’ve heard him singing them live on several occasions, but was looking forward to hearing the album versions nonetheless.
Moreover, last night, something made me tune into BBC Radio Cymru, which I hadn’t listened to in quite a while, and what was my surprise to hear Gwilym Bowen Rhys live! 🙂 I didn’t even know that it was going to happen, as I didn’t even go on Twitter yesterday, which is the only social mediumm I use, if lurking passes as using, and where I follow both Gwilym and BBC Radio Cymru. I don’t know how much of it I could have missed as I joined in at 8:30 UK time, but even if I missed something, I could still enjoy half an hour of Gwilym performing mostly songs from his debut album O Groth Y Ddaear (From THe Earth’s Womb) together with his frequent collaborators – Patrick Rimes on fiddle and Gwen Màiri Yorke on harp. – I was a bit surprised that he was singing only songs from his debut album, but it turned out that the reason for this concert was the 40th anniversary of a Welsh traditional record label called Fflach, with whom he released that particular album. After having been spoilt so much, it was only natural that I’ve ended up having a small faza peak, even though Gwilym is no longer my dominant faza peep. In fact, I’m actually surprised that I’m only having a small peak, I guess after so much exciting stuff my brain should be skyrocketing. But any peak, even the smallest is always welcome.
ANyways, enough of me, let’s get to this new album and the song from it that I want to share with you all. As I’ve already said and as its name implies, Detholiad o Hen Faledi II is the second album in the Detholiad o Hen Faledi series, compiling old, often nearly forgotten Welsh ballads, in minimalistic arrangements, in most cases either accompanied only by guitar or sung a capella. Like its predecessor, it was produced by Aled Wyn Hughes (known for example from the band Cowbois Rhos Botwnnog) at Stiwdio Sain and released by Erwydd Records, a branch of Sbrigyn Ymborth.
So far I feel like my favourite tune from this album is the closing one, called Deio Bach, or Little Deio in English, which is also one of the two tunes that I’ve heard him perform before. I also decided to pick this one for this post because the album is not yet available on any streaming services or anything like that, so unfortunately I can’t share the album version of any of the songs with you, but this particular song can be found on YouTube in several live versions. The first time I heard it was on BBC Radio Cymru in a programme hosted by Lisa Gwilym, where she talked with Gwil about his upcoming performance at one of the Folk on Foot Festivals online, where he was also going to sing this song. I had the great pleasure of listening to that Festival as well.
I am not at all easily moved to tears, as in by something that is beautiful, even though sometimes I’d like it to be the case because I think it could be quite cathartic when I do find something emotionally moving. Yet, when hearing Gwilym perform this song at Folk on Foot, I found myself very dangerously close to tears when listening in particular to the last verse, even though my understanding of the lyrics was a bit patchy. I still find this song and the mother’s sorrow and hiraeth in it incredibly moving.
From what I’ve heard and understood, Gwilym first heard this song performed by Cowbois Rhos Botwnnog to a different melody (that is a beautiful interpretation as well and I might share it with y’all some other time, who knows) and then some time later found a version sung by an acclaimed late soprano singer called madam Megan Telini, and he sings it to the same melody as she did. The song was written by John Jones of Llangollen, from the perspective of a mother whose son – Deio (my best guess is that it must be yet another variation on Dafydd/David) – has emigrated to America.
The translation you can find below, as always in case of Gwilym’s songs that I share on my blog, comes from Gwilym’s website.
I raised a little and dear boy on my bosom with great pains. Deio, you are that boy, I wonder where you are now. often you are on my mind, dear boy, are you healthy? If it isn’t too much to ask, send a letter little Deio. tough is my piece of bread, yes, tough and scarce, whilst my child, I do hope is with his bread of white wheat. My dear boy, whilst you are by your table without sickness or weakness, if it isn’t too much to ask, remember about your mother’s poor fare. If you can’t come over, If you can’t assist me in any way, I dare to ask you one thing, maybe you will give me that - I’m not asking for a grave stone, this is too much, despite the longing farewell, just shed a tear in my memory, only a tear little Deio.
Since it’s already early evening here, I thought I’d share a lullaby with you, and I picked this beautiful Welsh one performed by Celtic harpist and singer Sian James, whose music I’ve already shared on my blog before. Here is the lyrics translation that I’ve found:
This Swedish song is over 50 years old but it’s brand new to me. And I like collecting cool songs with a Sofi/Sofia/Sofie/Sophia/Sophie in them, so it sparked my interest right away when I heard it. I’ve often mentioned on here that I always listen to some music quietly at night, or if not music from Spotify then some radio in one of my favourite languages. And last night I was listening to the Swedish public station P4, and that’s where I heard this song, in the middle of the night. Funnily enough, my Sofi was here too. It’s been freakishly hot here, and also unbearably humid, and Sofi has like a double room. There’s just a normal, big room that she uses during the day, and then there’s a hole in the wall where there is another room and she sleeps there, it’s like a little cave or something, the ceiling is very low there and there’s only a very small window. And as it’s a very small and tight space, it heats up very quickly. Sofi used to sleep in her main room and used that little one for playing video games or other stuff like that, but then she decided that she wants to make the little room into a bedroom, only she didn’t predict how hellish it would get in the summer. And so Sofi couldn’t sleep last night and came to me at about 2 AM, asking if she could sleep here, because I have AC in here.
She had to make herself a makeshift bed on the floor as it would be quite unbearable for both of us to sleep together in my bed, and as she was making it, this song played on the radio. 😀 I wouldn’t even pay much attention to it because it was just playing very softly in the background, but Sofi heard it and was laughing because it sounded funny to her and was asking why do I listen to such weird, antiquated-sounding stuff. 😀 So then I listened more closely and agreed that something about it sounds funny, and I turned the volume up a little bit, and then I realised that it’s about a “lilla Sofi”, so we were both laughing that they’re spying on us. Even though it was funny and even though I usually don’t feel older Swedish music really, I made sure to memorise a bit of lyrics and decided to check it out properly today and I really quite like it. It’s a really sad song though, while at the same time I still think it’s funny.
I’m not perfectly sure if it’s Sofi or Sofie in the title, as I’ve seen both, but Sofi seems to occur more frequently.
The song was written by Benny Andersson (from ABBA, except ABBA wasn’t a thing yet for a couple years) and Lars Berghagen, and released in 1968.
Here’s my literal English translation of it:
Little Sofi, she shines like a sun,
Makes a wreath of meadow flowers and violets,
The sky is shining nicely blue as she slowly goes home,
Sits down by her gate,
Holds the wreath against her cheek
Then a song is heard, then a cloud of dust is seen,
And for today, I picked a Welsh song, from quite a well-liked and known singer on the Welsh-language music scene. Lleuwen Steffan, also mononymously known as Lleuwen, is the daughter of Steve Eaves – a Welsh poet and singer, heavily influenced by blues. – So she grew up in a very musical household for sure, and one filled with love for her native language. Her sister, Manon Steffan Ros is also well-known in the Welsh speakers’ community, as an author. She’s also very popular with beginning learners of Welsh as her books are very learner-friendly from what I know.
I heard this song today in the morning, and thought it’s really cool, so maybe you’ll like it too. 🙂
This time around, I’d like to present to you yet another “normal” Jack I’ve come across in my frantic search for a faza, who, like all the others before, also happens to be from England, more exactly from Staffordshire. Again, I really like him, but not enough to consider him a good material for a faza subject. Jack Cullen comes from Staffordshire and used to be a rugby player from what I know (that’s super cool, my friend Jacek from Helsinki used to play rugby so I have good associations). I listened to all his music that is available on Spotify and it’s all really great, though I’m hoping to hear more of him in the near future. Here’s my favourite song of his.
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?
So it’s Advent, and Christmas is coming, so we can listen to our favourite Christmas music again! This is one of my personal absolute winter classics. And Jack Frost is one of my favourite characters in European folklore. He has arrived here for good as it seems, so I am welcoming his with this lovely little song, hoping you will like it too. Kate Rusby is also one of my most favourite English folk singers, she’s really amazing! I love her voice and her accent, most people who know her seem to love her accent haha, and she does this song so very well. It just makes my brain melt. 🙂