Music

used to be my life. I guess it’s more words now. But I’m still a “music person” at heart. Some people find that I have “posh” musical taste, but when music is your job, your life, I think you hear it differently. Actually, I find my taste to be very eclectic – I like music in almost all genres, maybe with the exceptions of musicals, some types of jazz and R&B. I also truly dislike the kind of pop music featured on shows like X-Factor. They all look and sound exactly the same.

Here’s a run-down of my musical background for those of my readers who haven’t known me that long (that would be 30 years+, ha): I started with the recorder and piano like all other nice little middle class girls and then went on to the more sociable instrument, the violin. As soon as I was good enough I started playing in a local youth orchestra and relatively shortly progressed to the Danish Radio’s Youth Orchestra. I loved playing in an orchestra and we toured and played concerts and generally had a fantastic time. It is still so that, when I hear specific orchestral works, like e.g. Mendelssohn’s The Hebrides, I swoon and am again 15… I switched to the viola at some point, because I so enjoyed being a team player. Was of course contemplating a professional career, but was not quite talented enough and, what’s probably more important, too lazy. Also, already then, standing up was hard on my back and when practising the violin/viola, you stand up!

Took a college degree in music and got to know people who were into pop music. You’ll have to picture me at 18 not knowing the difference between Sweet and Slade… At this point in time I owned a nice, if small, collection of classical LPs and two 7″ singles, Me & Bobby McGee and Hey Joe. My new friends liked King Crimson, Brian Eno, Genesis, etc. and I was slowly introduced to this new world. At this point in time I also met a girl who had the biggest record collection in living memory and she gradually introduced me to all the music I’d missed and to practically every new album that was released, because she spent every penny on music.

The first real turning point in my musical life came when my friend from college came and said, “Hey, you gotta come see this guy at work, he’s out of this world”. His work was in a music shop and “this guy” was a shy youngster with the most awful Sweet-hairdo and a guitar glued to his hands. My friend and I were equally stunned – I think it was the first time any of us experienced such raw, unpolished talent. The youngster was Hilmer Hassig, who, I’m so sorry to say, is no longer with us. I wrote him a eulogy.

The two of them formed a band and quickly I was drawn in by the whole thing and joined the independent record company Irmgardz…, that eventually published their debut album. Band’s name was Scatterbrain. They sang in English and their music was a kind of synth-pop and it was A FIRST in Denmark.

Irmgardz… and later Garden Records became my life up until we went belly-up in 1992. They were fantastic years and we produced some pretty good albums, if I may say so myself. We also arranged concerts, so have heard and met quite a few of the Indie icons of the era. Some were a lot of fun and great musical experiences, but a lot are best forgotten.

I have a weakness for lists and some years ago I made a Top Three of the best concerts in my life. I thought a lot about it and the result is a bit surprising – it was surprising to myself at the time. But looking back now, I’m quite sure they were really the best! I even paid good Danish money for one of them – something I otherwise never did back then.

1. Violent Femmes (this would have been in the mid-eighties) at Montmartre – a legendary Danish jazz club, which doesn’t exist any more. It was a band I really liked (from Milwaukee of all places), I had their albums and listened to them often. Seeing them live was absolutely fabulous. Sometimes during the concert you could hear a penny drop on a carpeted floor. I’ve just finished The Timetravelers Wife where one of the key moments in the book is a concert with Violent Femmes in Chicago. I knew exactly what it was like, could hum every tune…

2. Tom Waits in the Falkoner Centre on his Rain Dogs tour (1985). It was a sit-down concert, something very unusual at the time. Waits traipsed around between his little settings and played a very low-key, but super intense set. Fantastic!!! I still like Tom Waits a lot and throw money at every new album on Itunes.

3. U2 at Roskilde Festival (1982) following the release of their second album October. I was in complete awe of Bono, who did things with the audience that were very unusual at the time and who had a really remarkable voice, but similarly of The Edge, who really did something different with that guitar and had such a distinct tone!

I’ve had a look through my Itunes and here’s a completely random and nowhere near exhaustive list of albums that have made a lasting impression on me. I don’t always know why, but just know that something about that album changed me a little bit.

  • Anouar Brahem: Le Pas du Chat Noir (latest addition, thanks to Gabs)
  • Bob Dylan: Nashville Skyline
  • The Costello Show: King of America
  • Del Amitri: Twisted
  • Echo and the Bunnymen: Ocean Rain
  • Emmylou Harris: Wrecking Ball
  • Genesis: The Lamb Lies Down on Broadway
  • The Jesus & Mary Chain: Psychocandy
  • New Order: Power, Corruption and Lies
  • Paul Simon: Graceland
  • Portishead: Dummy
  • Prince: Parade
  • R.E.M.: Automatic for the People
  • Ry Cooder: Paris, Texas Soundtrack
  • Tricky: Maxinquaye
  • U2: War
  • John Lennon & Yoko Ono: Double Fantasy
  • George Michael: Older
  • Depeche Mode: Violator
  • The The: Soul Mining
  • Blondie: Parallel Lines
  • Keith Jarret: The Carnegie Hall Concert
  • The Go-Betweens: Before Hollywood

Most of you will have Spotify, but if you don’t, go here and listen to some of the albums you don’t already know. There could be a song to change you too?

Only a few Danish albums (that we didn’t produce ourselves…) spring to mind, the most memorable ones being Kliché‘s Supertanker and Sort Sol‘s Dagger & Guitar.

Classical music will have to be another day…

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British telly & music

In between seemingly endless news sessions about the US election (which will not be mentioned any more today…), I’ve also watched other stuff. I accidentally stumbled over a show that has had me in stitches several times and had Dane asking me what’s so funny. The show’s called “The Most Annoying Pop Song We Love to Hate” and it’s just hilarious. As anybody who can remember the eighties will testify to, there’s plenty of really horrible songs from that period to “re-discover”, but also wonderful “period pieces” to reminisce over. In between the actual songs there are comments from a mixture of people including critics, (former) popstars, music bizz pros etc. Yesterday I was reminded of Whigfield, the Danish One-Hit-Wonder who laid Ibiza bare and then went on to conquer the world. And the horrible Billy Joel song “We Didn’t Start the Fire”. And, and, and… In these wonderful www-times, you can still watch some of the episodes on the BBC I-Player even in Denmark or wherever you are. Highly recommended – the older you are the better, up to a point.

Gemma Arterton as Tess
Gemma Arterton as Tess

I’ve also watched two typical BBC drama series, both with beautiful young actresses. One’s just finished, it was Tess of the D’urbervilles. I remember this book particularly well, since it was the very first book I read in English. There are loads and loads of tears flowing in every episode – the last one has the most tears of course – but I remember crying over the book too. I’m guessing that many modern people (men?) will find Thomas Hardy a bit too touchy-feely, but I love it. And on a bit of a serious note, there really are people out there who, like Tess, don’t seem to have any luck at all in their lives. I even know or knew some of them. My heart goes out to you!

The other series is still on, it’s DickensLittle Dorrit. I’ve never read this

Claire Foy as Little Dorrit
Claire Foy as Little Dorrit

one, so the story is new, although with Dickens, you sort of know the story-line if you’ve read another one of his. The protagonist, Little Dorrit, is played by a lovely actress by the name of Claire Foy.

Back to music before I move on to the chores of the day: A month ago or so you could, if you bought the Times every day for a week, get some fantastic memory-evoking CD’s for free. So I collected the tokens and sent them in. A few days ago I received The Jesus & Mary Chain: PsychoCandy, Echo & the Bunnymen: Ocean Rain, New Order: Power, Corruption & Lies and Joy Division: Closer in the post. I’ve never gotten around to buying these albums on CD and thus haven’t heard them for a long, long time. I maintain that these four records are and will remain classics. It’s just fantastic to hear them again!

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