AN IMAGINARY COMPILATION ALBUM : #184 : JENS LEKMAN

A GUEST POSTING by MARTIN ELLIOT

(Our Swedish Correspondent)

Jim,

Have had a couple of ICA’s in mind lately with Swedish bands (after all being the Swedish correspondent implies some duties…). One major issue is however language, with many of my fave Swedish bands performing in our native language and having lyrics as an important cornerstone they would make very little sense to most of the TVV readers. Listening to his latest record the other night I finally decided to do a Jens Lekman ICA, concentrating on his early recordings up to and including his commercial breakthrough, if you can talk about such with Jens – but at least he reached a wider indie audience with the truly wonderful Night Falls Over Kortedala album.

Jens started out as Rocky Dennis, based on the boy in the film “Mask”, but when Jens realized the character was based on a real person he dropped the alias and started to use his given name instead. Jens has always been very “local” in his lyrics, referencing places in his hometown, Gothenburg (Göteborg), and using his imaginary friend Lisa throughout his recordings.

Into This And That – a Jens Lekman ICA.

Side A.

1. Maple Leaves – First recorded as Rocky Dennis and then later re-released as Jens Lekman. Wonderful track with a typical Jens lyric, “I thought she said maple leaves”.

2. I Saw Her In The Anti-War Demonstration.

3. A Sweet Summer’s Night On Hammer Hill. Both from the “Julie” EP, where there is also a track called “Anorther Sweet Summer’s Night On Hammer Hill” – Hammer Hill being a direct translation of the suburban (problem) area Hammarkullen in Gothenburg. Jens grew up in one of the so called “problematic” suburbs, this showcases another side of the story – a happy party song among good friends, and then of course the second version is a sad, sad story… As reality is rarely just black or white.

4. Rocky Dennis’ Farewell Song (To The Blind Girl). From the Rocky Dennis In Heaven EP. There is of course also a “Jens Lekman’s Farewell Song To Rocky Dennis” on the EP, but this is the stronger one in my mind. Very sweet melody.

5. And I Remember Every Kiss. A stunning opener of the “Night Falls Over Kortedala” album, and a great closing song of this side. Grand music, sad lyrics and an old fashioned Volvo 240.

Side B.

1. Your Arms Around Me – When accidentally cutting your finger becomes a beautiful love song. Also from NFOK. Kortedala is by the way another not so fancy part of Gothenburg where Jens lived for some time.

2. You Are The Light (By Which I Travel Into This And That) – From Jens’ first album, When I Said I Wanted To Be Your Dog, a quirky love song with an upbeat melody.

3. Sipping On The Sweet Nectar – He can do songs to dance to as well! From NFOK, sweet as honey – or maybe sweet as nectar. There is a great club remix as well by Bogdan Irkük.

4. Someone To Share My Life With – From the first Jens Lekman EP, Maple Leaves, and a song very similar to Someone by Depeche Mode in many aspects. And this leads us nicely to the ending of this ICA

5. Kanske Är Jag Kär I Dig

It means Maybe I’m In Love With You. A truly wonderful love song from NFOK, which is very special on a personal level. Around the time NFOK was released I was going through a divorce, one day while driving to a conference playing the CD in my car I got a text from a woman I had met a couple of times through work. She was also going there and wondered if we would meet. This track was played on repeat after reading the message…(And yes, she is now Mrs.)

Bonus track: Lönnlöv – The Swedsih version of Maple Leaves (lönnlöv are maple leaves), where the misintepretation is “Hon sa allt var lönlöst, men jag tyckte hon sa lönnlöv” – which translates to the slightly more desperate ” She said all is meaningless, but I thought she said maple leaves”.

Ironically as I lived many years in the same city as Jens, I have seen him in town several times but never caught him playing live. A true shame actually, which I know JC can confirm. (JC adds….. indeed I can….he’s a truly wonderful live act and was very generous with his time after this gig last year).

Enjoy.

Martin

JC adds (again)…….this exceptional run of ICAs will continue into next week.  Three more ridiculously wonderful guest contributions – from Dirk, Craig McAllister, SWC and finally one from myself to round things off, wrapped around a piece of tinned fruit on Wednesday.

I’m actually off to Toronto for 8 days after tomorrow, so any daft errors in upcoming postings which are pointed out won’t be corrected immediately…shit quality control I know, but it’s what happens when costs are cut to the bone.

 

7 thoughts on “AN IMAGINARY COMPILATION ALBUM : #184 : JENS LEKMAN

  1. In Dec. 2009, I proclaimed Rocky Dennis’ Farewell Song (To The Blind Girl) the best song of the decade. I’ll still stand by that statement.

  2. Another artist who by and large passed me by, I will rectify this situation on the weekend, so many thanks, Martin!

    And to you, JC: have a WONDERFUL time in Toronto, a safe flight and everything, but most of all: a WONDERFUL time. Enjoy yourself over there and the time you’ll have with the folks you meet, my friend!

  3. Last Friday, a few weeks after sending this off to JC I managed for the first time to see Jens play live! Opening the first day of the Popaganda festival here in Stockholm he gave us 45 memorable minutes and definitely the longing for more.

  4. Not an artist I know but based on Martin’s writing and Brian’s comment an ICA that I will certainly be checking out

  5. An ICA I’ve never expected. A brilliant artist and I agree to your words watching him live. And as Dirk said: have a great time over at Toronto and enjoy it much

  6. thank you for this fabulous ICA. for those new to Jens, his two most recent albums and the argument with myself EP are excellent as well. go see him if he comes to your town!

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