Hep Stars – “Sagan om Lilla Sofi” (The Story of Little Sofi).

Hiya people! 🙂

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,

A little soldier is marching along the road,

He has striped trousers and he has a big rifle,

He is marching so pluckily,

A little, big soldier

Little Sofi, she shouts ”Hello to you!

My name is Sofi, come here and play with me”

But then the soldier replies

No, I have to hurry up

I am going far away

The whole world is on fire”

May I join you, I promise to be nice

We’ll surely be back here by the evening”

But then he answers her

It will be far for you to go

Stay here my little friend

For I will come soon again

Day turns to night, and months to years

And little Sofi, she waits every spring

But the wind that is drawing toward north

Can give the answer but has no words

Never comes back again

So she is still waiting for sure

Cornelis Vreeswijk – “Somliga Går med Trasiga Skor” (Some People Walk in Tattered Shoes”.

Hiya people! 🙂

So as you may know, I’ve recently managed to translate a couple of songs by one of my faza people, Cornelis Vreeswijk, from Swedish, and I’m quite satisfied with the results, and I thought I should try translating this one, as it has fairly easy lyrics and also is one of his more popular and recognisable songs in Sweden, I guess only the one about Cecilia Lind whichh I also shared years ago is more popular. It comes from one of his earlier albums – “Tio Vackra Visor och Personliga Persson” (Ten Beautiful Songs and Personal Persson) from 1968. Even though, being a Christian myself, I don’t agree with a fair bit of stuff he sings about in this song, at the same time I think I do understand why someone would have this kind of perspective on things and even though I don’t agree with some things here, I feel similar about not getting attached to life too much, which is why I like it. Interestingly, the shoes problem seems to be very persistent and intergenerational, because Jack Vreeswijk (Cornelis’ son) also has an original song called “Mina Gamla Skor” (My Old Shoes). 😀

 

Some people walk in tattered shoes

Say why is it so?

God father who lives in heaven

Maybe wants to have it this way

God father who lives in heaven

Closes his eyes and sleeps sweetly

Who cares about a pair of tattered shoes

When one is tired and old?

Who cares about how the days go?

They wander as they want

Citizen, in one hundred years

You will no longer exist.

Then someone else will take your chair

You won’t know about it

You’ll feel neither rain nor sun

Down in your dark grave.

Who cares about how the nights pass_

I couldn’t care less

As long as I can keep my face

Hidden in my darling’s hair.

I am a shady character

Not enough for much

Death stands lurking behind the corner

He takes me when he wants.

Some people walk in tattered shoes

Until they stop walking

The devil who lives in hell

Gets a good laugh then

Suvi Teräsniska ft. Arttu Wiskari – “Sininen Uni” (Blue Dream) & Cornelis Vreeswijk – “Den Blåa Drömmen” (The Blue Dream”.

Hey guys! 🙂

Let’s listen to yet another, beautiful and cute lullaby today. It was written by a Finn of many talents – Tapio Rautavaara (1915-1979) – who was a successful athlete (javelin thrower and archer) and then (also successful) singer and actor. Some of his songs, from what I know, were quite big hits at the time of his career. While I don’t really feel them musically all that much as they just don’t stand out to me I guess and are totally not my thing, I like the lyrics of some of them, which are often humourous, sometimes a bit ironical and often have a fair bit of wisdom in them, in which they remind me of Cornelis Vreeswijk. Their political views were also very similar from what I know. It is not surprising then, with that similarity, that Cornelis Vreeswijk actually did an album consisting of Rautavaara’s songs that he – Vreeswijk – translated to Swedish. The album is called “En Spjutkastares Visor” (Songs of a Javelin Thrower) and was released in 1980. Among these songs is “Sininen Uni” in Finnish, or “Den Blåa Drömmen” in the Swedish translation, or Blue Dream in English – a lovely lullaby about the Sandman, or Nukkumatti in Finnish, or John Blund in Swedish (blund means close your eyes and is the imperative form of the verb blunda).

Sandman is one of my most favourite folklore characters, next to Jack Frost, selkies, changelings and some others, because I love sleep and dreams and I just really like the concept of the Sandman, so I instantly fell in love with this lullaby when I heard it for the first time and understood well enough (in Vreeswijk’s version).

Thanks to Spotify, a couple months ago I also came across a cover version in Finnish sung by Suvi Teräsniska and Arttu Wiskari, which speaks to me more than the original. And I thought that, because Finnish is just as beautiful a language in my opinion as Swedish, and because it’s interesting to hear how the song sounds in its original language, I would share this Finnish version too, and also I just plain like it, unlike the original.

I don’t speak Finnish (yet), so I don’t understand any of the Finnish lyrics, but I tried my best at translating the Swedish translation into English for you. I got Google to translate the Finnish one for me out of curiosity and it doesn’t seem like there are any huge differences between the two language versions, perhaps except for that, according to Google, the Finnish Nukkumatti “devours ice cream” whereas John Blund is better and gives you a sleepy cookie.

 

Every evening when the lamp goes out

And the night is about to come

The Sandman knocks on the door

So quietly and so carefully.

He tiptoes in through the door

In his sleepy shoes

And sits down nicely by the bed

In the room where you live.

He has such a sleepy cap.

It is full of sleepy sand.

He gives you a sleepy cookie

With his sleepy little hand.

His car is blue, can you see it_

It’s going to drive away soon.

Vroom, vroom, says the car

In me you can ride.

Now he puts up the umbrella

And puts on his cap.

What does he carry under his arm_

Well, a dream book which is blue.

And the car drives to the dream land

With a sleepy speed

Vroom, vroom, says the car.

Now I guess we’ll fall asleep very soon.

And there you see the golden trees

That grow in the forest of dreams.

And the dream blue bird.

Well, I guess you know him.

Crawl now down under the bird’s wings

And sleep well and fine.

Hear the bird sing a song:

La la la la la la la.

   Suvi Teräsniska ft. Arttu Wiskari:

Cornelis Vreeswijk:

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 – “Min Polare Per” (My Buddy Per).

Hey people! 🙂

Today I have for you another song from Cornelis Vreeswijk, ’cause why not? The original version even comes from the same album as the song I shared with you yesterday (that is, his debut album from 1964), but I decided to share with you a live version.

I’ve introduced you before to some recurring figures in Cornelis Vreeswijk’s music and poems like Ann-Katrin Rosenblad or Fredrik Åkare, but so far I don’t think I’ve ever mentioned Polaren Per, who is like Cornelis Vreeswijk’s buddy or pal. Like the other two characters, he’s also supposedly based on a real-life person, namely Pär Hägg. And he features in quite a few Cornelis’ songs. This is the first one that was ever released.

This time round, I haven’t managed to translate it because I don’t even fully understand some pieces in it, especially the first verse. It’s about Polaren Per’s mysterious disappearance. He used to live with his girlfriend but something happened between them (this is the part I don’t understand fully, I believe she cheated on him but I’m not quite sure) that he couldn’t get over it, so he moved out and no one knows where he is. So, obviously, his friend is very concerned, and asks people if they’ve seen him, and looks for him himself all around Stockholm. He’s also worried about his – Per’s, of course – mother, who will miss her only son, and the fact that Per owes him fifty bucks. He has multiple theories as for what could be going on with Per and where he might be, like he may be at sea, drinking his problems away or may have moved into a cheap hotel, or maybe he’s just sitting in a pub, in which case there’s nothing to worry about at all. Luckily though, he must have been found, since there are so many other songs about Polaren Per that were released later on.

Cornelis Vreeswijk – “Visa I Vinden” (Song In The Wind).

Hiya people! 🙂

Today, I have a beautiful Cornelis Vreeswijk song for you (or Swedes would say a Cornelisk song, Cornelisk is an adjective and I like it because it shows how he really is a huge and recognisable part of Swedish culture. I think this is one of my favourites. We could say nowadays that it is so beautifully emo. 😀

It is a very sad and beautiful love song, and if we’re talking Cornelis and love songs, of course we’re also talking Ann-Katrin Rosenblad, to whom he most often dedicates his love songs, and other of his songs often mention her too. If you’re not yet in the know, Ann-Kat(a)rin Rosenblad was his fictional muse, based on the real life one – Ann-Christin Wennerström. – This comes from his debut album – “Ballader Och Oförskämdheter” (Ballads And Rudenesses/Impertinencies) from 1964.

I even managed to translate the lyrics (go Bibielle!!! I guess it’s my fourth Swedish-English translation if I’m counting right) and they surely do tell you what the song is about, but I wonder if it’s just me who feels that the English lyrics are way clunkier than Swedish. Perhaps it’s because it can’t be otherwise, or maybe I could do it better, I don’t know. If you speak Swedish and read this, lemme know.

Also, honestly, ever since I’ve first listened to this song (which was like… 2016 I guess?) and then understood its lyrics fully, I’ve never really figured out what’s the deal with the “sieve” in the lyrics (see translation below). I thought maybe this word has more meanings in Swedish or it’s some idiom or something, but when I was translating this today I couldn’t find anything like that. So I still don’t know. Maybe it means that she was so selective in love or didn’t retain her emotions for long, meaning that she easily fell out of love, or something? I found out that sieve can symbolise virginity, because of a vestal in ancient Rome who proved her virginity by carrying water in a sieve and not spilling any of it. Cornelis read a whole lot and we could say that he was quite nerdy, and there are mythological references in some of his poems and songs. But here it doesn’t seem very likely to be the case. Yeah, I was the best in my class at poem analyses but have always felt like I’m not very good at it actually. 😀

 

I’m singing a song in the wind,

And hope the wind will bring

This song to my beautiful one’s cheek,

And sprinkle it in her ear,

And move her heart.

I have been to many countries,

And not been to many more.

I guess I could stop going,

If you ask me to do so.

And lovingly look at me.

But wish me luck on the journey,

When I now pull away from you.

And the reason, Ann-Katrin, is this:

I cannot stay,

Where I do not have your love.

I’m singing a song in the wind,

I’m singing a song in a storm.

My heart is like a granite,

My heart has lost its shape,

And my pain is enormous.

But listen to my march under the moon,

It swings in steady minor.

It does not fit on the gramophone,

It’s about you, you troll,

That your heart is a sieve.

Renaida – “Ett Andetag I Taget” (One Breath At A Time).

Hiya people! 🙂

Today I have a very beautiful and sad Swedish song for you which captivated me from the very first time I heard it. The singer – Renaida Braun – was actually bornn in Tanzania, before her parents emigrated to Sweden. She took part in the Swedish TV competition Idol, and also in Melodifestivalen (Melodifestivalen, commonly known as Mello, which is the biggest and most popular Swedish TV show and whose winner goes on to take part in the Eurovision Song Contest the same year). I really like how emotive and strong her voice is and I absolutely love this song.

The lyrics are really simple, so I managed to translate them with no problem, yay!

 

I feel the pulse in my blood

My heart beats again

I stop for a while

Can I smile again?

It was nothing I understood

I only wanted to go home

The thought of losing me

Before the dawn

When the sky falls to the ground

And all the trees are burning in the park

The birds fall to the ground

And all the words disappear

When the sky falls to the ground

And all the trees are burning in the park

The birds fall to the ground

And all the words disappear

I lose my breath in a dream

A kiss from nowhere

Everything falls apart inside

Can’t see again

When a memory arises

As if the fairytale never existed

The truth shall be revealed

Before the dawn

When the sky falls to the ground

And all the trees are burning in the park

The birds fall to the ground

And all the words disappear

One breath at a time

I take one breath at a time

One breath at a time

I take one breath

When the sky falls to the ground

And all the trees are burning in the park

The birds fall to the ground

And all the words disappear

Rebecka Enholm – “Bara Få Va Mig Själv” (Just Get To Be Myself).

Hey people! 🙂

Some time ago on my blog, I shared with you some music from a famous Iranian-Swedish pop singer – Laleh. – One of her songs that I like and shared with you was “Bara Få Va Mig Själv” and I thought that now I’d also share with you this cover by a very young singer Rebecka Enholm, a more acoustic one. I do prefer Laleh’s version as I think it has more character, but this one is really nice too.

Here is my post with the song by Laleh and the English translation for it.

 

Rebecka Enholm – “Bara Få Va Mig Själv”.

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”.

 

Cornelis Vreeswijk – “Balladen Om Fredrik Åkare”.

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.

Cornelis Vreeswijk – “Saskia” – & Pernilla Andersson – “Saskia”.

Hey people! 🙂

So as you may remember I shared with you yesterday a song from Swedish pop singer Pernilla Andersson, and I said that I might share one more soon, that is her cover of a song originally written and sung by Cornelis Vreeswijk. And so that’s what I decided to do today.

This song is what made me fall in love with the name Saskia so much that if I ever considered having kids, Saskia would be a very serious candidate for a girl. I’d never really come across that name a lot before hearing this.

The song comes from one of Cornelis Vreeswijk’s earlier albums – “Tio Vackra Visor Och Personliga Persson” (Ten Beautiful Songs And Personal Persson). There is a recording of his live performance at an Örebro jazz club called Powerhouse, which was released as an album after his death, where he says that this song was inspired by a real life Saskia he once met in his “green youth”, on the way back home to his wife with whom he was at the time (Ingalill Rehnberg I think based on the timing), he would often stop at some sort of other beer place I don’t really know, to have a few beers with his “good friends and other condemned individuals”. And one time when he was there, there was a girl called Saskia who was working there, and she apparently asked him what was Rembrandt’s wife’s name, so he said that she was called Saskia van Rijn, and then he had free beer for the rest of his stay there. How magnanimously of her… I don’t know though if what they were doing after her work according to the song is also based on facts or not really. His second wife, Bim Linnea Warne, said once that, while he was awfully jealous which is quite well-known, he was very faithful himself, although, as much as I like Cornelis, I can’t help but feel a little doubtful about that. 😀

I love Cornelis’ original version, but Pernilla Andersson also does a really great job. Her song doesn’t have the last couple of verses though.

According to the lyrics, Saskia is cross-eyed, and that’s why she is a subject of ridicule for everyone, which I’ve always found a little surprising because, perhaps I’m totally wrong at all that but I guess strabismus (I suppose that’s how it’s called in English?) isn’t an uncommon thing, it’s also not like a very disabling condition or making one somehow grossly unattractive even if it’s commonly seen as not very beautiful, so while I get that someone could be bullied due to something like this, would that really raise so much attention? In the 60’s? As I said though, I may have no clue, since I’m blind myself and don’t know how much things like that can affect one’s view of a person, it’s just something that I’ve found kind of interesting and strange.

Below is the translation of the song, I wrote it myself but I used

this one

to help myself.

  Saskia has a name with a ring to it

She works at a pub

Pours beer for the guys

The guys think she is good

The guys think

She is good

Then there is nothing more to it

Saskia, she is crosseyed, you see

Although her gaze is clear and bright

It raises ridicule in everyone

It raises ridicule

In everyone

She is quiet and unnoticeable

Her uniform is starched

But she was beautiful, and when she smiled

In a way that made you gasp

In a way that

Made you gasp

I let my eyes explore her

And it was actually worth the effort

The more they saw, the more they found

She was purely incredibly brilliant

She was purel

Incredibly brilliant

After I had strengthened myself with a beer

I said “Miss, have you noticed?

Has it not struck you yet

That I have been observing you?

That I have been

Observing you”

She said “Sir, it is true

The reason is unknown to me”

Then I mustered up the courage and said

“When are you free, Saskia?

When are you free, Saskia?”

We watched a romantic movie

Then we drank coffee at a café

I followed her to her house

A light was burning in our hearts

A light was burning

In our hearts

Saskia had a sleeping alcove

And she was beautiful when she slept

And we were awake more than enough

Then her alarm clock went off

Then her alarm

Clock went off

Saskia is a name that has a ring to it

She works at a pub

Her eyes are crossed, wherever she looks

But she is beautiful when she smiles

Yes, she is beautiful

When she smiles

Pernilla Andersson – “Koltrast Vid Haväng” (Blackbird at Haväng).

Hey people! 🙂

Today I’m sharing with you a song by Pernilla Andersson from Sweden. She’s quite a well-known pop artist in her native country. I guess her most known song is Johnny Cash & Nina P. or perhaps it’s just me who has heard it on Swedish radio incredibly often. She also, like many Swedish singers, has covered Cornelis Vreeswijk’s music, and it’s possible that I will share her interpretation of his song soon. For now though, let’s listen to her own piece. Haväng in the title is a nature reserve in the south of Sweden, which is a popular tourist destination.

Question of the day.

Have you ever been to another country? Which?

My answer:

I’m not very well-travelled, but I have been to some countries a few times, although with most of them these were just day trips, so as you can guess most of these were our neighbouring countries (Lithuania, Slovakia and Czech Republic). My Mum’s family – namely my grandad – has some Lithuanian heritage, but we also have some distant family – from his side – in eastern Poland, mainly in Masuria. That is also where my Mum was born. Masuria is an amazing place to go for holidays to, because there are a lot of lakes and beautiful views and a lot of yummy food, and a lot of rural areas and tourism is quite a big thing there. So we would often go there to see our family and would often stay at their place and travel in the area or something, during summer holidays. One such year we decided to go a bit further, to Lithuania. Partly because of that family connection, although this is not something we know a lot about or have a strong emotional bond with because it’s just too distant, and partly because I’ve had a devotion to Our Lady of the Gate of Dawn, whose chapel is there, and I wanted to visit it, so my Dad had always promised me that we’d go on a pilgrimage there or something, and that’s what we eventually did. Zofijka was only a toddler then. She was also quite little on our next trip – to Slovakia – and often when we were driving somewhere that felt very far to her, she would keep asking: “Are we still in Poland?” which always made us laugh because it sounded as if she was such a globetrotter or a cosmopolitan that she can’t keep track of which country she’s in anymore. 😀

As for Slovakia, one year my Mum persuaded me to go on a summer camp that was organised by my school, and as a way of coaxing me into it she said that they – my family – would go there as well on their own. The whole trip was to the Tatra mountains, here in Poland, because my school had like its quarters there – that is, sort of a closely affiliate school in a village close to the mountains which was for primary school-aged children with some additional learning difficulties other than just blindness, so we were using that school as our base. – I would sometimes do stuff with my school, and sometimes with my family. Sometimes my family would join the school in doing what they had planned to do, and at other times they’d do something different. And my Dad was really keen on the idea of us going to Slovakia, because back when he was going to school, he once went to a school camp in Czechoslovakia and then later even was briefly penpalling with one of the girls from there, which is interesting because while Polish and Czech/Slovak are obviously in the same family of languages and are relatively well mutually intelligible, it’s not like you’ll understand each other all the time if you don’t have some background in the other language, at least that’s my experience, there are a LOT of “false friends” and their spelling also differs a fair bit, so I would never have thought that my Dad would be up for such a challenge and at school age, I’d think that would require some language consciousness that people, let alone school children, don’t always have. Then later on our trip to Czech Republic, to both my and Mum’s great surprise, it was my Dad who was the most communicative and understood people the best, my English was of less use than his Polish and plain ability to understand what people were saying. 😀 We’d never suspected him of a hidden linguistic talent like this. Anyway, because of having such memories with Czechoslovakia, and because of us being close to the Slovak borders and all being into the idea, we felt like it would be fun to go there. And because my Mum always wanted to visit some thermal aquapark or something like this, we were happy to find out that there is one quite close to the border, in Oravice. And, for me personally, that was the most fun day of the whole trip, which overall was, I believe, more exciting to my parents than my siblings and me. 😀 But we had a lot of fun in that thermal aquapark and have been thinking about going there again ever since, but never have so far.

Then, quite a lot later, as an adult already, I went to the Czech Republic only with my parents, because Sofi was on a swimming camp and Olek was working. Again, we were on longer holidays, this time in Silesia, and my Dad really wanted to cross the border. We went to Prague but weren’t really doing anything specific there, just walking around, taking everything in, people watching, listening to the language, trying random foods that we’d never seen before in our own country etc. That was a lot of fun. Then the next day we travelled to Czechia yet again but this time round to some villages and again weren’t doing anything specific. My Dad was chatting to people, me and Mum too but like I said before he was actually the most effective at that and could both be quite well understood and understand the most of us all, I remember we also went to some cemetery there.

And last, but not least, my most adventurous trip abroad so far was to Sweden, but I think most of you know a fair bit about it already. I went to Stockholm and nearby areas, again just with my parents because Sofi was on another swimming camp. This was quite spontaneous, even though my Dad was promising me every year that we’d go. I never believed it because we never ended up going. But that year he also kept saying we’d go to Sweden and then, quite unexpectedly for everyone, we actually ended up doing it. I felt really ambivalent about this trip. It was absolutely awesome, and I loved being immersed in the language and how it improved so incredibly muchh for me in this single week, how I got some real experience of talking to natives, which I had almost none of in Swedish before, or at least certainly not in person. And I heard so much positive feedback about my Swedish, although at the same time whenever I let it show in any way that it’s not my first language people would instantly switch to English so I was often wondering whether my Swedish is really that bad, haha, but I guess people just do it like this in Sweden regardless of your fluency level. It is frustrating from a learner’s perspective, but in fact I’m only starting to understand this phenomenon now that I’ve been helping some people who are learning my language, and I’ve realised that it’s really tempting to just switch to English, which we both know well, because this way we could communicate more quickly and also a bit more clearly, and I wouldn’t have to be mindful all the time of what and how I’m saying so that they could understand me more easily if they’re a beginner, which in turn feels less free and natural. Plus for me it’s probably also that I write much more in English these days than I do in Polish. 😀 But there were even people in Sweden who were surprised when they eventually realised that I’m only learning Swedish, which felt really flattering because I didn’t, and still don’t, feel all that confident in it at all, not as much as in English, my Swedish still feels a little clunky to me and not as comfy to use. But I guess what may be making this initial impressioon on people is that I pick up the phonetics and language prosody easily and perhaps I do a really good job at this one thing in Swedish, that’s what I heard from my Swedish teacher but he wasn’t objective, 😀 which maybe is what to people makes me sound more like a Swede even if I make grammatical/syntax mistakes and use sometimes not the right vocabulary than if it was the other way around – if I were speaking perfectly grammatically but with a weird accent. – If it really works like this, it’s funny that an accent can create such illusions. I loved just listening to people on the streets and observing them. One of the highlights of that trip for me was when we went to the cemetery where there is Cornelis Vreeswijk’s (one of my fazas) grave. I had always dreamt of visiting him there and bringing him some flowers. We had the yummiest Swedish chocolate and ice-cream, there were so many beautiful views that my Mum was in love with, I got lots of children’s books to scan, and, on the last day of our trip, we found a minerals shop, where I got some lovely new gem stones to my collection. I loved the shop owner, who seemed to like me too or perhaps was impressed with my interest with stones or something because he was incredibly nice and talked to me a lot about his stones and how he got them, and showed me lots of them even though initially he wasn’t too happy to let me touch them. The whole trip was extremely exhausting for me though in a lot of ways, and on that last day, I was feeling totally knackered, and when I’m very tired or sleepy or have drank alcohol or something like that, I have a strong tendency for mixing languages, especially if I happened to switch them a lot or was learning one of them intensely earlier that day. My thoughts are a jumble of different languages and sometimes I won’t be able to filter things out and will say something in a different language than I wanted. That can be quite funny, if a bit embarrassing for me or confusing for the other side, although my family are used to it and just ask me what language that was, and my family are who I mostly interact with in person. 😀 Anyways, that was the state of my brain on that day, and at some point, in the middle of my conversation in Swedish with that guy (which was rather challenging in itself because he was speaking super fast and with a rather strong Scanian accent, and Scanian accent is not something I can understand very well, it’s almost like Danish 😀 ), my Mum told me – in Polish of course – that there’s also a huge sapphire there and that it’s soooo very expensive. Instead of replying her in Polish, I did it in English, and was all like oh my I love sapphires I wish I could have it!!! or something along these lines. My Mum, who can’t speak English, didn’t get it, but the shop owner did, and was quite amused. He said he can’t sell that sapphire to me at any significantly lower price, but instead could give me a smaller one for free. And that’s how I got a lovely mini sapphire ball. That’s always something to start with, and I was quite euphoric over getting a sapphire – even if very small – to my collection. But I also bought a lot of other beautiful stones there.

The worse part of the trip was that it was really quite challenging overall, it was absolutely exhausting! First we had to do all the travelling, and my vestibular system went crazy on the ferry, I was freakishly dizzy and it was scary. Most of the trip I was going on a lot higher doses of my anti-anxiety medication than what I normally take, which is probably why a lot of my memories of that time are rather foggy and feel more like a dream or something. My parents don’t speak either English or Swedish, which means I had to do the talking for three people, when I normally struggle doing it just for myself. While my linguistic curiosity was higher than my anxiety, it didn’t make it any less difficult and all the interactioons with people, even though mostly very positive, were really wearing me out. So I was just as super happy leaving as I was going there, and I have the same very ambivalent feelings when thinking about going there again. I’d love it, but when I start to think practically about going through all that socialising and travelling shit again, it makes me feel sick. 😀

How about you. 🙂

Vederkast – “Balladen Om Herr Fredrik Åkare Och Den Söta Fröken Cecilia Lind” (The Ballad About Mr. Fredrik Åkare And The Sweet Miss Cecilia Lind).

Hey people! 🙂

While I find that it’s always best to listen to my

fazas’

music in the original, when it comes to Cornelis Vreeswijk, I think he can be proud of very often having had people cover his music very well! I do like some covers of his songs almost as much as his original versions. And this is one of such cases.

I stumbled upon this version of the ballad about Fredrik Åkare and Cecilia Lind when my faza on Cornelis was quite well-developed already, and I instantly loved it. I like how in this rocky, gloomy version, it takes on an almost entirely different feel, yet is no less true and authentic than the original version. And also I just plain like how it sounds.

Here you can find

my post with the original song and the translated lyrics,

and here is

my post with Cornelis’ Dutch version. 

The YouTube version is just a teaser or something, so below is the link to Spotify, and if you don’t use Spotify, there’s also a link to Songwhip where you can choose the streaming service that you use.

Vederkast – “Balladen Om Herr Fredrik Åkare Och Den Söta Fröken Cecilia Lind”.

 

Cornelis Vreeswijk – “Tomtebloss” (Sparkler).

Hey people! 🙂

I thought that today I’d share with you this lyrical piece by Cornelis Vreeswijk. I like it a lot because, well, Cornelis being one of my faza subjects, I’ve been very interested in him as an individual, and this song tells us a whole lot about what his love life and relationships generally looked like. I once found a Swedish programme called “Cornelis Och Kärleken” (Cornelis and Love) where a few people analysed in quite an interesting way some of his lyrics that are about love and women – since a lot of his lyrics and poems talk about various women – and how they illustrated the way his relationships looked like. Having had lived a stormy life overall, it was no less stormy and intense with love, because while on one hand he was seeking love and closeness quite desperately, he had some extreme difficulty with forming and maintaining relationships and whenever there was indeed a possibility of having a closer, deeper relationship with someone, he would basically run away almost in panic immediately. It’s flamin’ difficult having fears which conflict with your basic needs. He was also pathologically jealous – largely due to abusing alcohol and all sorts of drugs and other things, many of which can do such things to your brain – so it also wasn’t easy for the other side to be with him for sure.

And in this song, it really shows, in a both lyrical and raw way. Its lyrics weren’t awfully difficult to translate so I tried my best to do it although there may be some errors in here.

  My beloved is like a sparkler,

like a sparkler easily ignited.

She burns so hot when she catches fire,

my beloved is like a sparkler,

like a sparkler easily ignited.

Red-hot like a kiln are my sweetheart’s embers,

but no fire is eternal.

Cold it is for the charcoal burner when his kiln dies out,

my sweethearts embers are so red, so red,

but no fire is eternal.

My beloved is like a race,

a race where neither of us can win.

Where no one catches the other,

my sweethearts lovemaking is like a race,

a race where neither of us can win.

Yes, love is like a sparkler,

like a sparkler easily ignited.

It burns red when it reaches us.

My soul – i am like a sparkler,

and no fire is eternal.

Song of the day (12th November) – Cornelis Vreeswijk ft. Made In Sweden – “Ett Gammalt Bergtroll” (An Old Mountain Troll) & Sofia Karlsson – “Ett Gammalt Bergtroll”.

Hi people! 🙂

So I’m quite behind with this series, which is quite a pity, because on 12 November was one of my main fazas – Cornelis Vreeswijk’s – death anniversary. It’s been 37 years since he passed away!… As I always say, way too many! And I originally wanted to commemorate him exactly on that day but oh well… at least I can do it now.

I’ve been feeling kinda crappy lately so I chose a poem which, deep down, between the lines – but it’s quite easily readable – is also about feeling shitty with and about yourself, which generally is very different from how I am experiencing it yet at the same time very similar because essentially it’s all about having an overactive and spiteful self-critic and hating yourself as a result, just the ways this hatred manifests are different between different people I think.

The author of the poem, however, is not Cornelis, although as you may remember from my blog he himself was also a poet in addition to being a singer. This poem was written by an early 20th century Swedish poet Gustav Fröding, who is really loved in Sweden, although, just like Vreeswijk he was also quite controversial in his time and if I remember correctly even had an episode where he faced a trial for obscenity because of one poem he wrote. Also, again just like Vreeswijk, he had a life-long problem with alcohol as well as intimate relationships with women. Interestingly, in my Dad’s dictionary, a troll means someone who drinks heavily and chronically. Fröding spent a large part of his life in all sorts of mental health institutions though it’s not clear what diagnosis he had exactly, it sounds like some sort of psychotic disorder and depression, the latter ran in his family. More exactly it was his mother who suffered from it when he was a child, and as a result wasn’t able to parent him properly and so he had a rather difficult childhood. Years ago when I was learning a lot about Fröding and reading his poems simply because I knew Vreeswijk appreciated him and they appeared to have so freaking much in common (and if you’ve got any idea about fazas you know that for someone who has a faza anything even remotely related to their faza object is interesting and worth digging into), I’ve come across an opinion that this early separation from his mother was the main factor contributing to his later problems with relationships and pretty much all the other emotional and mental health related difficulties that he was experiencing, including the self-hatred thing that we’re focusing on since that’s what the poem focuses on.

Cornelis Vreeswijk, as you may know since I’ve written about that a few times earlier when writing about him in more detail, also struggled with similar emotional issues (though he did not have any official mental health diagnosis as far as I am aware, though he did suffer from extreme paranoia and stuff). He had terrible problems with intimacy and closeness and often wrote about craving it, and had relationships with many women in his life, but when things started to get more deep, it scared him, or something else made the relationship impossible to be stable for longer and things were constantly stormy and messy from what you can observe when having a closer look at his life. He was always very shy though it may be hard to believe just when hearing him live a few times, I had a problem with that anyway because he is so eloquent and has a sort of jovial, kinda boisterous air about him. But when you observe things for longer, listen to many more live recordings, read some more and listen to some interviews like I did, it does show a lot, plus obviously it is there in his poems and lyrics. It often amazes me how he could mask it so well but from what I understand he saw his outside personality as some sort of a role he was supposed to play in life, or something. Must have been so freakishly exhausting, would surely be for me anyway haha. And of course there’s that whole self-loathing and self-destruction thing which is just so sad. I remember when watching the 2010 Amir Hamdin’s film “Cornelis” (which was a real struggle since I didn’t really have any audiodescription or anything and with my less than perfect Swedish skills didn’t always understand everything fully but still I think I understood a lot on that first watching, I did have English subtitles to help myself with though when need be but back then my Swedish was actually better than my English) that was what affected me the most when I saw the level of his self-destructivity, perhaps because, while I am not an addict in the classical understanding of this word, I struggle with other self-destructive behaviours like self-harm and can deeply relate to what it’s like feeling awful about yourself, so I guess it must have struck a chord or something.    So it seems quite natural that Cornelis would feel some affinity with Fröding as they shared so much, and I am actually a bit surprised that he didn’t interpret more of his poems because apparently a lot of Swedish singers did that.

He released his interpretation of it, with a very jazzy/bluesy feel on his 1970 album “Poem, Ballader Och Lite Blues” (Poems, Ballads And A Bit Of Blues). It’s not as very prone to setting to music as many other Frödings poems are, so probably for that reason, rather than an actual song, it’s more like sing-speak, which is something Vreeswijk used a lot in his music and I think it often makes it more expressive than just singing and is very characteristic of his style.

But a couple years ago, quite some time later after I acquainted myself with Cornelis’ discography, I came across his live performance of this song on YouTube, in collaboration with a 70’s jazzrock band Made In Sweden. I like the album version a lot and it’s not much different at all, despite the instrumentalists are different, but I slightly prefer the rocky live version rather than the jazzy album version as it just speaks to me more, so that is why I chose to share the live one with you.

For contrast, there is another artist from Sweden called Sofia Karlsson whom I absolutely love (I shared her cover of Vreeswijk’s Grimasch Om Morgonen in the very beginnings of this blog), who also interpreted this poem in 2009, but in such a starkly different way! While Cornelis’ version is so raw and jaggy, intense and frenzied, raving and just so very directly conveying the feeling of this poem, Sofia’s version, while no less expressive, is so much subtler, sophisticated and I’d say more from an observer’s point of view, if you get what I mean. For some people it might make it more bearable. 😀 I love both!

In Cornelis’ live version, he makes a brief introduction just like on the album and says that: “Gustav Fröding was a hip poet. He tried to drown his sorrows. But they could swim”. I think it’s such an interesting and Vreeswijkish way to put it lol. Below is a (free, not literal) translation of this poem, so that you know what it’s all about. I took it from

here.

It’s a pity though that most of you probably can’t understand the Swedish version and there are so many cool words that I’ve never heard anywhere else, my favourite is klumpkloss, which in the translation below is interpreted as “object of fright”, I’m not exactly sure how to translate it to English but I suppose it would be something like a lump. I find this word really funny but sadly never had an occasion to use it in a real conversation, I don’t even know if people actually use it. 😀

 

The evening draws on apace now

The night will be dark and drear;

I ought to go up to my place now,

But ’tis pleasanter far down here.

Mid the peaks where the storm is yelling

‘Tis lonely and empty and cold;

But ’tis merry where people are dwelling,

In the beautiful dale’s green fold.

And I think that when I was last here

A princess wondrously fair,

Soft gold on her head, went past here;

She’d make a sweet morsel, I swear!

The rest fled, for none dared linger,

But they turned when far off to cry,

While each of them pointed a finger:

“What a great, nasty troll! oh, fie!”

But the princess, friendly and mild-eyed,

Gazed up at me, object of fright,

Though I must have looked evil and wild-eyed,

And all fair things from us take flight.

Next time I will kiss her and hold her,

Though ugly of mouth am I,

And cradle and lull on my shoulder,

Saying: “Bye, little sweet-snout, bye!”

And into a sack I’ll get her,

And take her home with me straight,

And then at Yule I will eat her

Served up on a fine gold plate.

But hum, a-hum! I am mighty dumb,–

Who’d look at me then so kindly?

I’m a silly dullard–a-hum, a-hum!

To think the thing out so blindly.

Let the Christian child go in peace, then;

As for us, we’re but trolls, are we.

She’d make such a savory mess, then,

It is hard to let her be.

But such things too easily move us,

When we’re lonely and wicked and dumb,

Some teaching would surely improve us.

Well, I’ll go home to sleep-a-hum!!

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. 🙂

Question of the day (22nd September).

Did you ever study a foreign language by yourself?

My answer:

Sure, I think that’s the best way of learning a language if only you can manage to do it this way because no one knows what works for you quite as well as you do, and no one knows as well as you do what things you enjoy so only you can make your language learning thoroughly enjoyable. I’ve been learning English by myself since I left the blind boarding school when I started hanging around the Anglophone Interwebs and realised what I was already beginning to think years earlier, that school, any school really (at least I haven’t encountered a school over here that would be really good with languages unless it specialises in it but even then it’s no guarantee) isn’t going to teach me a language, and if I want to communicate in English and understand people I’d have to do it by myself. What school had done so far was it only managed to discourage me in some way, but thankfully more from English as a subject, which I found infinitely boring, rather than English as a language, but it was very close to it as well. I was pretty good at English at school most of the time and that was part of why I disliked the subject, that a lot of the time I had little to no constructive stuff to do in class.

Sometimes I feel like a kind of jerk when I say that I’ve taught myself English, first because I was going to school for so many years so surely it must have had some impact, and also I don’t really feel and never did like I put a whole lot of effort into my English learning, like most people do when they teach themselves anything. And yes, I did get the beginnings from school, as I wrote in the last post, I’m absolutely sure it all wouldn’t go as smoothly as it did if I had to start from scratch completely on my own. And I am extremely grateful for the bits and pieces that school did give me. But with what I got from school, while I had very good grades at English and could have a very basic conversation with someone with a lot of good will on both sides, I wasn’t really able to communicate effectively nor comprehend English very well either when reading or listening. I also don’t think it’s something fully due to my own merrit that I’ve managed to learn English to the extend that I did and as smoothly and easily as I did. I don’t believe in a “linguistic talent” because if it was the matter of talent we would have much more mute people or people with all sorts of language/speech disorders than we do, we also wouldn’t have had as much migration because people wouldn’t be able to learn another country’s language. But there are certainly some traits that people may or may not have that may make it easier to absorb languages, like a talent for catching the phonetics which I seem to have. And I think that has simplified the whole thing for me a whole lot, I also like learning languages and if someone does not, it’s typically going to take more time.

But even if I do have some particular language skills, I still feel like my English learning was kind of miraculous and insanely speedy given how little conscious effort I put into it. I immersed myself a lot into English, listening to different accents and just a lot of stuff in English and wanted to learn to distinguish different accents better than I could, and possibly also imitate them. I read a lot in English on the web so that it quickly became my habit that if I was googling something I did it automatically in English rather than Polish and still do. – I changed the interfaces of the devices/apps I used to English. I wrote my journal at least partly in English. Later I started penpalling which was at first very strenuous indeed for me to understand people and write in a comprehensive way, writing to a pen pal would take me ages but after that my brain would be buzzing in English for the next 24 hours so it was clear that it was doing me a lot of good, and over time, not very much time at all, it became less of a chore and much more of a pleasure and I think it’s penpalling and blogging that has been helping me the most. Then when I was already able to communicate quite well I also started this blog which had been my dream for years. Later yet, I started to read some books in English when I got access to them, and nowadays, I think the amounts of books I read in Polish and English are quite equal, and it has also been a very smooth transition, although it still requires more concentration from me to read books in English, but not the point where it would be uncomfortable or something.

While in my final year of college/high school I had briefly English classes with a private tutor, I thought it could be more helpful to show me what exactly my level is and what I have still to do, or at least help me to prepare for my finals. It did only one good thing for me. My teacher was super chatty and we talked a lot, so my conversational skills have improved. That was good as generally my daily, serious use of English evolves around writing, reading and listening (by “serious” I mean excluding talking to myself and conversating with Misha). I was already good with accents and such but nevertheless not particularly confident in speaking, and talking to him helped me to feel more at ease with it, at least in terms of language skills, as of course there’s also the whole socialising and peopling stress involved which is a totally different thing and can also affect things no matter in which language. Thanks to this, he certainly helped me to prepare for my oral English final exam as well. But other than that, it didn’t really take me anywhere further than I was and my general English level didn’t change because of it. So yeah, I think with English, I learned the most by myself. It’s been about six years since I left the boarding school and thus since I seriously started to learn English on my own, and I’ve learnt more in these 5 years than I did during English classes.

I am also currently learning Swedish by myself, although I started out with a tutor and, unlike school and the English tutor, he did a whole lot for me and I’m sure that if I didn’t meet someone like him, I wouldn’t be able to learn Swedish nor any language on my own now. He worked with me for two years first since I was 10, then we had a long break when I had to go back to the blind school as the integration school didn’t work out and that meant there was no way for us to meet up really. I avoided even the slightest contact with or any mention of Swedish as fire while at the boarding school because I felt like if I couldn’t learn it anymore it was pointless to think of it and it only made me feel extremely depressed, frustrated and angry. I forgot most of what I learned at least on a conscious level. But then I got the faza on Cornelis Vreeswijk when I was 17 and I couldn’t hold it in any longer. The more my faza developed, the more I felt almost literally how all the stuff I forgot was flooding my brain again, and I kept accidentally learning new, sophisticated words from his lyrics and poems, then I even managed to translate totally spontaneously a few of his poems with the little Swedish I had and these translations were really quite damn good as for my generally very poor Swedish skills by then. As it happened, the year I got that faza also turned out to be my last year at the boarding school, and in the autumn of that year I reconnected with my Swedish teacher. During our first lesson, he asked me to just say a few sentences in Swedish, whatever I was able to say, and neither of us was expecting much but I was actually able to express myself fairly coherently. He was very surprised and at first thought that I was learning by myself at school somehow or managed to find another tutor there after all, but then I told him that I was only kind of learning since about May but not really in a very serious way, and he said my brain must have somehow skipped over the most basic stages in no time because I actually knew more than what we’d covered in the past when I was in the integration school. That was weird, but that’s fazas for you, make your brain do strangely intense things without feeling like you’re doing much at all. 😀 I loved it and I kept skipping like that for a while yet.

But, skipping or no skipping, I certainly wouldn’t be able to be where I am with my Swedish and with other languages where I am now if he wouldn’t take up the challenge and try to teach me even though he had no idea about teaching blind people and even though back then when we were starting I didn’t even have an idea about any technologies or stuff so it all was really complicated. Most language teachers I’ve encountered are much more of scaredy cats. I just wouldn’t have the confidence that I am actually able to do it.

Now I’m no longer having lessons with him since a few years and I can learn Swedish on my own. With the help of emails from my Swedish pen pals, the Swedish Internet, some Swedish books, mostly children’s, that I can get, and loads and loads and loads of listening. That trip to Stockholm I once went for has also tremendously helped me, as well as my friendship with Jacek from Helsinki and meeting different people through him. I get very little practice in form of writing or speaking these days and somehow can’t figure out how best to change it, at least in terms of writing where it is more doable, in a way that would feel good and not like a chore, which makes me feel that my Swedish is kind of clunky and that it could be better, and I somehow feel like it has regressed a little bit since when my English has started improving so rapidly but I am definitely able to communicate with people and understand everything I read or hear unless it’s extremely sophisticated or someone speaks very fast with an accent that I don’t really get, like Scanian for example. 😀

And now I’m also learning Welsh by myself as there’s no other option, as for many of my other languages. I’d actually like it if there was someone in my area who could teach me so I wouldn’t have to think about resources and stuff but it could be just as effective as all of my English classes in the past so perhaps it’s better that I’m dealing with it oon my own. The biggest problem is that there aren’t overly many resources but since I’ve found a website for Welsh learners with a lot of courses and stuff it’s become much easier and structured for me and I don’t have to constantly be on the look out for new things in case I run out of the resources I have now or they stop being helpful. It’s also fairly accessible. Listening is definitely my main way of learning Welsh as it’s kind of a priority in my courses, I’m terribly slow at reading and my vocab could be better but at least with the latter I’m sure I’ll get there in time. I’d also really really like to be better at listening as my brain is kind of sluggish when processing auditory input in Welsh haha. So far, despite I’ve had a Welsh faza, I haven’t had such a speedy jumping like with ENglish and Swedish, with Welsh it would be even better because it’s more difficult, and I’ve actually found learning it much more strenuous than the other two languages, but no less exciting.

And with all of my other languages, I think I’ll also be learning them by myself.

How about you? 🙂

Question of the day (20 September).

What other languages do you speak, if any?

My answer:

This is another thing that I’m sure a lot of you know about me as I write about it a lot and my languages are an important part of my life. But if you don’t, or doon’t remember, so far, other than my native language and obviously English, I can also speak Swedish, I’d say on an upper intermediate or advanced level or thereabouts, and Welsh, which I think would classify as lower intermediate. I also used to learn German at school but my actual knowledge of this language these days is very poor and most of it that I know is by similarity of the words with other languages that I know.

How about you? 🙂