SOME SONGS ARE GREAT SHORT STORIES (Chapter 21)

A GUEST POSTING by MARTIN ELLIOTT (Our Swedish Correspondent)

Hi Jim,

Been thinking about this theme a few times, and then when I the other day listened to one of my favorite Swedish albums of all times and my stand-out track from it – Alice – I thought “this is a great short story”. The thing being of course it’s in Swedish… so I had a go at translating it to English to see if it works. The band, Eldkvarn (“Fire Mill”) has been around forever, and are normally not a band that draws my attention, pretty straight forward rock’n’roll – a bit like our version of Bruce Springsteen, but to celebrate their 10 years as band they 1987 released the double album Himmelska Dagar (Days of Heaven) and suddenly it all worked out just wonderful. It’s a great album, pity they haven’t been able to reach this quality again (IMO). Side D is pure magic, 3 brilliant tracks with the middle one being the 9+ minutes long Alice, a homage to a love long gone.

She lived by the railway
where her father had a job
She had blue jeans and a leather jacket,
and a straw hat with a feather on top
I met her there
every day after school
in an abandoned wagon
on an overgrown track
Sometimes we sat on the embankment
and dreamt ourselves away
while the wind caught our hair
Like pages in a book
we separated
Each went their own way
it was all a loan

Her father is on the other side of the railway bridge
in a grave under a stone in the old cemetery
I’m sitting under the chestnut by the old canal
It’s all memories now
the houses and streets in the town
And it’s strange
that I haven’t seen in this way before
so I guess I’ll continue for a while
inside or outside the law

Alice, heaven can wait
there’s a way and a place in the sun
for every one
Alice, heaven can wait
put on your leather jacket
it’s a long way and you walk alone

Your tears down the cheek
while you apply make-up
are like rain in September
and only the wrong things get said
Yes, it’s hard when nothing happens
and harder still to get older
I have tried to learn
but even I don’t know it all
Walk with me over the fields
follow me to the sea
If there’s something I want to show you
it is this road
When time catches up on us
we get other things on our mind
and both you and I know
who is the most anxious

Alice, heaven can wait
there’s a way and a place in the sun
for every one
Alice, heaven can wait
put on your leather jacket
it’s a long way and you walk alone

The years come back
and I remember St Per’s Street
I remember a young boy
always in the window staring
at the motorcycle gangs outside Rialto
on their way to the end of the world
there was no way back
with black leather jackets
and hair like Elvis Presley
they threw us up in the air
so the guns fell out of the holsters
When the street lights lit
everyone was outside Rialto
and I was a small boy
three flights up in the window

and the snow fell, and the snow fell, and the snow fell, and the snow fell

Snowfall and snowploughs a winter’s night
ambulances and trams racing
I saw Lucia processions with gnomes and trolls
Zamora* and Bajdoff* and a gigantic football

and the snow fell, and the snow fell, and the snow fell, and the snow fell

I saw May 1st processions with swaying banners
horses and police men sitting in saddles
Students carrying the hope of the future
elephants and clowns from Circus Scott
Miss Norrköping waved and I waved back
then came Floyd Paterson
on a flatbed truck

I learned to work
I grew up to a man
good years and hard years
came and went
now I walk beneath the skies outside the barn
Alice, i still see you in the blue jeans
and the straw hat on your neck
May the doors behind me
always be open
and I always carry your leather jacket
tightly around my heart

Alice, heaven can wait
there’s a way and a place in the sun
for every one
Alice, heaven can wait
put on your leather jacket
it’s a long way and you walk alone

* Zamora and Bajdoff were the nicknames of two legendary players during the 50’s and 60’s in the football team of their hometown, Norrköping, where all this once supposedly happened.

mp3 : Eldkvarn – Alice

===========================

“Off the record” – please make a sanity check of my translation, if it just doesn’t make sense, please delete this mail. 🙂

Best,
Martin

 

JC adds…..

I decided, without even hearing this piece of music that I had to include it in this occasional series.  Martin has gone way beyond the call of duty to translate the lyric….and it does make perfect sense.  Cheers mate!

One thought on “SOME SONGS ARE GREAT SHORT STORIES (Chapter 21)

  1. This is a far from my preferred styles of music but boy does it meet the criteria for this specific thread.

    It contains quite wonderful and extremely evocative storytelling within the confines of a song. In normal circumstances I say 9 minutes 10 seconds is way too long for a song but in this case, it is not only required, but it works.

    Thanks to Martin for his article and for taking the time to translate the lyrics.

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