Per Gessle’s Top9 songs from the 90’s

This program is from more than a year ago, but last summer there was a heavy Per Gessle solo tour, so I didn’t have the time to sit down and summarize Gessles nio i topp in English. Now I feel like I need to practice my Swedish, so why not listening to these enthusiastic PG podcasts again. Maybe you get into the mood too. 😉

Per and Sven Lindström talk about the 9 best songs from the 90’s in THIS podcast. The guys say there could have been thousands of songs chosen for this program and it was really hard to pick 9 real good hits that remained in the heart and brain. Per says it was the decade when Roxette had its greatest success, so he was also involved and actually listened to other bands’ music differently vs. how he listened to music e.g. in the 80’s or 70’s and 60’s.

Per’s Top9 songs from the 90’s:

9. The La’s – There She Goes
8. Matthew Sweet – Sick of Myself
7. Natalie Imbruglia – Torn
6. The Dandy Warhols – Every Day Should Be A Holiday
5. Guy Clark – Dublin Blues
4. Oasis – Supersonic
3. Crash Test Dummies – Mmm Mmm Mmm Mmm
2. Tom Petty and the Heartbreakers – Mary Jane’s Last Dance
1. The Cure – Friday I’m In Love

Per’s first choice is The La’s There She Goes, a song that was released in 1988, but it flopped, then it was released again in 1989 and it flopped again. Then it was remixed by Steve Lillywhite (U2’s producer) and re-released in 1990. Per thinks it’s an awesome song, survived all the trends and is still cool.

Per looks at his list and says there are several one hit wonders on it. Matthew Sweet is his next choice and Sven says besides the song chosen by PG, Sick of Myself, Matthew Sweet had at least one other hit. Per then laughs and says he means one hit wonders in HIS world. Sick of Myself from 1995 is a fantastic song, it’s kind of a bubblegum pop song. It’s from the album, 100% Fun, and that’s exactly what it is: 100% fun. Pure power pop, which fitted the 90’s so much.

Natalie Imbruglia (it’s worth listening to PG how he tries to pronounce her name, haha) is No. 7 with Torn, released in 1997. Per thinks this song has that magical power good pop music has to have. Mr. G says 1997 was the year when The World According to Gessle came out, while he and Marie were taking a break from Roxette. Sven says in the 90’s Per worked with Roxette, Gyllene Tider and solo as well and real power pop songs were born then, like June Afternoon or Sleeping In My Car. It was the decade of classic guitar pop. Sleeping In My Car he tried to write with the thought of Gyllene Tider power pop a la Roxette. Sven mentions SIMC was released on Crash! Boom! Bang! and Per says after they had been working on the album for more than a year, EMI couldn’t find a single. Then Per went home pissed off and wrote SIMC and that became the lead single off CBB.

No. 6 is The Dandy Warhols, Every Day Should Be A Holiday, also from 1997. Per thinks The Dandy Warhols made cool pop music, he thinks their song Bohemian Like You (2000) is a masterpiece. Sven likes their tough guitar sound and the melodies.

The next song on the list is a wonderful country song, Guy Clark’s Dublin Blues from 1995. Per thinks it’s incredibly good. Guy Clark lived in Nashville where Per recorded his latest 2 Swedish solo albums. Mr. G likes how Guy Clark expressed himself as a singer-songwriter and how he sang his own texts. Per says country music came into his life indirectly. His mum listened to Gunnar Wiklund in the 60’s, Jim Reeves classic country songs, then there was the Eagles, then The Rolling Stones’ Dead Flowers in 1971 and then Neil Young. There is country music everywhere.

Mr. G says one can’t write a list of 90’s songs without Oasis, so they come next with Supersonic from 1994. It’s a very well-done song with a really cool guitar sound, everything is good about it, the singing and title as well. Sven mentions Liam Gallagher said Oasis is like Ferrari. ”Great to look at, great to drive, and it’ll fucking spin out of control every now and again.” Per (a Ferrari lover) says Liam was right.

The third place is of a one hit wonder, Crash Test Dummies and their Mmm Mmm Mmm Mmm from 1993. The song was produced by Jerry Harrison from Talking Heads. The exciting video made the song even bigger and it was shown on MTV all the time. It was an odd song, just like XTC’s Senses Working Overtime. Per likes the title a lot.

No. 2 on PG’s list is Tom Petty and the Heartbreakers with Mary Jane’s Last Dance, released on the Greatest Hits album in 1993. Per thinks it’s an awesome song with an awesome guitar sound. It had a fantastic video starring Kim Basinger. It was worth buying the Greatest Hits album for those 2 new songs on it. Sven jokes this is what they did with Roxette as well, releasing a greatest hits album with new songs. Per laughs. Sven is wondering why Per as a huge Tom Petty fan didn’t put this song to the first place, but Mr. G says it’s because the No. 1 on his list is a bit better than this song.

Saying that, you might be surprised that No. 1 is Friday I’m In Love from The Cure, from 1992. For Per they are a typical one hit wonder band, even if there are hardcore fans still following them. Friday I’m In Love is such a good song that no other hit comes even close to it. It has timeless pop quality and great production and has followed Per through all his life since it was released. After the song Per shows his high and low voice. It’s worth listening, haha. Awesome!

Sven says Per had at least 6 different lists before he finalized THIS list. There was a list that had Brainpool on it with Bandstarter, which is an awesome song and there could have been R.E.M. with Man on the Moon as well, but this Top9 wasn’t a double LP, so they got erased from the list in the end.

Per Gessle podcast interview in Framgångspodden

Alexander Pärleros wanted to do a podcast interview with Per Gessle since 3 years. Now it was time for Per to say yes and they did the interview on 21st November 2017. The whole conversation is very easy-going, Alexander is well-prepared with questions and Mr. G is as down-to-earth as usual. Hardcores will hear some new anecdotes and have to wait until the very end to get some real news – about the new album which is out in May. You can listen to the podcast HERE (no. 160 is the interview with Per) or HERE or on iTunes.

Here is my summary of the interview in English.

First there is a 2.5-minute-long talk about the podcast itself. The PG-related talk starts after it, with a mix of Per-penned song fragments and an intro about Per’s career. Per joins in at appr. 4:50 in the podcast.

Alexander asks Per how he is and Mr. G says he is a bit tired because he just came back from the US. He tells he changed publishing company, so he had a lot of work meetings, also with his American record label, as well as Sirius XM. Per tells he saw Bruce Springsteen on Broadway. Alexander asks Mr. G what he likes the most in the US. Per tells he likes New York a lot, he gets energy there; Los Angeles, Florida, Miami, South Beach. Alexander asks Per if he has ever been to Michael Jackson’s house. Per says thank God he hasn’t. Alexander asks if Per doesn’t like Michael Jackson. Mr. G says he met a lot of people who love Michael Jackson and think that he was the most important person in the world of music, but he was not the most important in Per’s world. However, he was of course fantastic, but he is not in Mr. G’s Top10.

Alexander asks who Per’s Top3 most important artists are. The Beatles are No. 1, because the music they represented is reflecting the times when Per became interested in music and their music formed Per a lot. Then there is Tom Petty, who he probably listened to the most and with Gyllene Tider they kind of became the Swedish Tom Petty and the Heartbreakers in the 70’s. Here Per mentions the story when Marie and Per were doing a TV thing in the Netherlands and Tom Petty shouted out to them from the second floor that he loved their record. Per says that after Tom Petty passed away, he got a video link from a friend in Los Angeles where Tom Petty at the end of the video mentioned the weirdest cover he had ever heard was the Swedish version of I Need To Know. It was Vill ha ett svar by Gyllene Tider. Mr. G says Tom Petty was an awesome artist, songwriter, singer and guitar player.

The third place is shared between Joni Mitchell and Leonard Cohen. They also formed Mr. G a lot with their singer-songwriter tradition and listened to them a lot in the 70’s. When Per was 13-14 years old he started writing lyrics by translating Leonard Cohen into Swedish. Per couldn’t play the guitar back then, but the first songs he learned to play on the guitar which he got from his mother were Leonard Cohen songs: Famous Blue Raincoat, Suzanne, etc. Per thinks Joni Mitchell wrote the best lyrics. She is totally fantastic.

Alexander asks Per how a typical day is for him. Mr. G says there isn’t really a typical day for him. E.g. on a day like today (when the interview was done), he has almost nothing else to do just to talk with Alexander. He woke up at 9. He has a son who goes to school so sometimes he also wakes up at 7. If they are talking about a typical year for Per, he can tell that for a third year he is in Halmstad, for a third year he is in Stockholm and for a third year he is on tour or travelling. Alexander mentions it’s interesting that Per sets an alarm clock. On a normal day Per sets the alarm clock not to sleep for so long, but when they are working in the studio it can last until 2-3 am, then one can feel he should sleep more.

Alexander asks Per what he eats for breakfast. It’s boring, he always eats the same thing: coffee with milk and 2 sandwiches. One with apricot marmalade & cheese (he starts with this one), and one with ham & mustard & chives. Then he drinks a little vitamin C, lemon flavour. Alexander asks if there is any routine for the evening. Not really, but when he is free and is at home then he shuts down the computer at 6-6.30 pm, then it’s rather family time. They eat dinner together or with friends, watch a movie.

Alexander says Per and he has a common friend, Erik Bergman and Alexander asked him what to ask from Per Gessle. He said ask him about Halloween. So Alexander is curious if Per is interested in Halloween. Per says he is not interested in it at all. Once he was there in Los Angeles when it was Halloween. There was a bizarre parade on Lincoln Road with appr. 100.000 people. Everyone went there and Per dressed as Sony Bono with a thick mustache and Åsa dressed as a police woman, she looked very cool.

Alexander asks what the difference between the everyday Per and the Per on stage is. On stage Per leaves himself out in a way, he kind of becomes someone else. It’s like there is an official and unofficial Per Gessle. Many think that what he is writing the songs about is something he went through, but it’s usually not the case. Bruce Springsteen told on his Broadway show that he became the working class voice of America, however, what he writes about is not always something he experienced. Per feels the same. He always tries to write the lyrics in a way that those who are listening think it’s trustworthy. It doesn’t mean that the text is true, just that you believe it is. Everyone interprets the songs in different ways. For example, how he interprets Leonard Cohen’s Hallelujah is different to how someone else interprets it. This is the magic of music and texts that you always find something in common with your own personality in it. Per always hears stories that people get married to his songs or get divorced to his songs (laughs) and they feel the songs are about their lives.

When Per is writing songs he tries to write as little as he can. He plays the piano or the guitar, checks the computer, but writing always depends on how he feels. When he really wants to write something, then it goes quite easy. Sometimes when he has a little music idea or a chord or a melody on his mind, he tries to find a word or a phrase that harmonizes with it. Then he starts writing the lyrics based on that one word or phrase. It’s like when you start painting a paint. You start with something little and there is more and more in the picture, maybe an environment or an abstract stuff, different colors that harmonize or not. There is no rule.

The guys are talking about Per’s childhood. Mr. G tells he was rather a lonely boy. His mother was a teacher in porcelain painting and worked a lot at home and when she was working she was quiet for hours while creating. Per liked it, the peacefulness in this process. He and Åsa are very different when it comes to listening to music. Åsa likes music being played anytime, but Per doesn’t put on music unless he listens to it actively. He likes silence otherwise, being in his own bubble. Per likes old Amercian country music more, Åsa likes dance bands more. When they are driving, Åsa always turns the radio on, Per turns the radio off. When they are in the same car, Åsa always wins.

Alexander asks Per what he thinks the secret of their long and happy relationship with Åsa is. Per says they have been on the journey always together. Åsa was working in the travel industry, so when Roxette broke through she organized everything related to their travelling. She was always there with him during Roxette’s busiest years, 1988-1995. They couldn’t really meet if it weren’t so. They have a lot of experience together and they are each other’s best friends. Åsa and Per met in a disco in Halmstad. Per was there to date with another girl who was going out with another guy back then. Åsa knew that girl and tried to help that girl and Per meet in secret, so organized a date for them in her house. Per in the middle of the date got more interested in Åsa. Per was 24-25 years old then, Åsa was 23. It was during the times when Gyllene Tider was over and Mr. G’s career was down. He had no record contract, he was writing songs for others. He had no money at all. Actually, he and the guys came from the 70’s, everyone was unemployed and they didn’t earn that much money. If they earned 10.000 SEK a month they felt like Scrooge McDuck, it was much, because otherwise they didn’t earn anything.

Per tells he left his mother’s house quite late, when he was 21-22 years old. He bought an apartment and his mother’s old car, an orange Passat. After they broke through with Gyllene Tider he started buying stuff for the apartment, 2 Andy Warhol paintings on Mick Jagger (it cost nothing back then and he still has them). He bought instruments, guitars and stuff. He bought a Prophet-5 synth that cost 34.000 SEK. It was a lot of money, but its value went up and now it’s vintage so it is worth probably even more.

Mr. G tells the story of getting thousands of letters when they broke through with GT and that fans stole the laundry on dry. They stole everything movable as a souvenir. It was the same when Roxette broke through. It was even bigger in a way, because it was international. When they played in Buenos Aires for example, in 1991 there were 1000-1500 people in front of the hotel and they were singing Roxette songs all night long. It was Formula-1 season and there was a Grand Prix at the same weekend. The drivers stayed at the same hotel and Per met David Coulthard who said they couldn’t sleep because of the singing. Those times were hysterical, mainly in South America.

Per tells there weren’t any extreme problems, they always had very good security teams. What he remembers being an extreme weird thing was when Gabriel was born in Karolinska Institute in Stockholm and one of the tabloids that wanted to have the first pictures of Gabriel went in to the floor where Åsa was. The woman had flowers and told he was a relative. The same tabloid hired a helicopter and was doing rounds above Per’s house in Halmstad, to be able to take pictures. It was in 1997.

Per says if you work in the music business, one of the keys to success is that you become famous. That people can listen to your music and buy tickets for your concerts. When he is talking about the above mentioned things he is not whining. These are facts that go along with being famous. One learns to live with that.

Alexander mentions that Per wrote a song while he was weighing mushrooms and asks if it’s a success tip to weigh mushrooms to be able to write a song. Per says he actually wrote that song, (Dansar inte lika bra som) Sjömän while he was waiting for being able to weigh mushrooms. They had 45-minute-long breaks. Per says there is a good idiom, that you have to sleep on it, so you don’t finish things spontaneously. He thinks it’s a good rule. It’s good to write a song and then get back to it a bit later after you were doing something else. So there are different stages of creating. When Per sits down and writes, he has his phone at hand and he records what he plays. So later he can check where he did a mistake. Maybe that mistake becomes the hook of a song. Same when he is writing lyrics. He sits in his own creative bubble, he is writing and writing and then gets back to the text some time later. Writing a song is a long process, it takes time until a song becomes something that people listen to, there are a lot of filters before it gets ready. When you want to record an album you maybe have 30 songs, but in the end it’s only 14 that makes it into the album. You say bye to some songs because they might be too identical or similar to others you recorded before or the lyrics aren’t good enough.

Alexander asks how Per met Marie. Per tells they met in a rehearsal studio in Halmstad in the 70’s. Gyllene Tider and Marie’s band, Strul were rehearsing at the same place. Marie was singing in that band and played piano and his boyfriend, Martin was also in the band. Marie was fantastic. They became good friends. Marie was singing on Gyllene Tider’s song Ingenting av vad du behöver on Schlager’s new year’s single in 1981 and then on TV, Vandrar i ett sommarregn in 1982. She went on tour with GT in 1984 and was doing backing vocals with another girl. They were always thinking of doing something together and make it international. Per’s career was down, but Marie’s was on a high. She got an EMI record contract and made a second solo album. Then they decided to make a song in English. It was Neverending Love. Per wrote it originally for Pernilla Wahlgren, it was called Svarta glas in Swedish. Pernilla never recorded it and Rolf Nygren, the boss at EMI suggested Per to write English lyrics to it and record it with Marie, because it was a fantastic song. So they did. It became a big summer hit in 1986 in Sweden. No one wanted to have it abroad. As Per didn’t have a record contract and he had written songs for a solo album, he started translating the lyrics into English and that became Roxette’s first album, Pearls of Passion. Alexander asks if Per felt he was good at English texts. Per says he doesn’t know, but he was growing up with English lyrics and he learned English via pop music and English music magazines. Maybe they could have won more if they had a better lyricist, but they didn’t know anyone who was better. He also tells that Roxette’s peculiarity vs. any other international artist back then was that everything was homegrown, they did everything in their own way. It was Per’s songs, Marie’s singing, recorded in Stockholm with Swedish musicians. Even if they went to the US quite some times, they never wanted to move there. Their first US No. 1 happened in April 1989. Alexander asks Per when he really felt that they broke through. Mr. G says it was when Tom Petty shouted. Haha. Alexander asks when he felt for the first time that it can really become something global. Per says there wasn’t an exact occasion when he felt so. One of the last songs they recorded for Look Sharp! was The Look. They felt it was awesome and the whole album was very strong. He remembers he told Marie if they succeed with one of the songs on that album then they would have some good years. There are The Look, Listen To Your Heart, Dangerous and Dressed For Success on that album, 4 huge hits.

The guys start talking about It Must Have Been Love and Pretty Woman. Their German record label told them to record a Christmas song, so Per wrote It Must Have Been Love (Christmas for the Broken Hearted). It became a Christmas hit in Sweden 1987, but the Germans didn’t want it. Marie released Efter stormen, Per started writing songs which later were recorded for Look Sharp! Then they broke through in the US and were having lunch with their record company in Los Angeles. The record label said they signed a contract for a soundtrack to a movie then called 3000 Dollars. Julia Roberts was to debute in that movie and it was a comeback for Richard Gere. They said it was a low budget movie. They also signed David Bowie and a new version of Fame was to appear in the soundtrack. They also wanted Per to write a song for that movie. They were travelling a lot with Roxette, so he didn’t have the time to write a song, but he said he has a Christmas song that Marie sings beautifully and he can re-write the text and take away the Christmas reference in it. So Christmas day became winter’s day. Then they partly re-recorded the song and sent it to Garry Marshall, director of the movie. Per and Marie were already working on the Joyride album when they got a call in the studio in Stockholm. It was Garry Marshall himself who called Per to tell him he loved the song so much he even re-edited the movie, because he didn’t want any dialogue during the song being played. He wanted the song to speak for itself. Some months later they screened the movie for Marie and Per in Burbank. Per says he never met Julia Roberts or Richard Gere though. Mr. G tells thanks to It Must Have Been Love’s success they won half a year before Joyride was released. Someone told Per he could have won an Oscar with IMHBL, but it couldn’t have happened, because the song wasn’t originally written for the movie.

Alexander and Per talk about Roxette’s record label. Per says they had a mediocre record label in the US. EMI was very good in Germany, Australia and Canada. Later EMI got sold and the new company was more into grunge music, like Nirvana in 1993. Mr. G says one can’t do such a journey as theirs without fuck-ups.

Per says he always liked working under pressure, with deadlines and such, but when he is looking at his old books and sees what life they lived, he is surprised how it could work. Alexander asks if they drank a lot. Per says no, they have never been that much of party animals in that sense. They were quite job-oriented and civilized. They were travelling a lot, touring a lot, doing hundreds of interviews. On tour the name of the city they did the show in was always written in front of them to know what to say to the crowd, where they performed. But sometimes shit happened and for example when they were in Santiago they read San Diego.

Alexander mentions that a listener asked a question. The guy worked at MegaStore, a record shop in Sergles torg, Stockholm. He says Per went there often and bought a lot of things, but wanted a discount of 15%. Per says it’s not true at all. He has never bought records there and why should he get a discount. It’s so much not him.

Alexander asks which Per thinks are the 3 best Roxette songs. Per says it’s difficult to say, but he likes Queen of Rain, The Look, What’s She Like? on which Marie sings fantastically. She always sings fantastically, but here she is outstanding. The 3 best GT songs are Juni, juli, augusti, (Dansar inte lika bra som) Sjömän, Honung och guld.

The guys are talking about the fact that Per’s mother, sister and brother passed away in 3 years. It was tough. His brother died of lung cancer, his mother got a heart attack and his sister died of cancer too. Alexander mentions Per’s father also died of cancer. Per says he doesn’t think too much about death, but of course he is aware that time goes by and the older you get the more important time becomes. Alexander asks what tips Per would have for a 20-year-old, like his son or anyone else. Per says if he looks back at himself at that age, his father died when he was 19, but he got a lot of support from his mum. She always let him follow his gut feeling. Mr. G says he tries to help Gabriel find out who he is, what he is motivated by. The worst thing parents can do is to force their children what to become: you’ll be a doctor, you’ll be this or that. It’s clear that not everyone can become Zlatan for example, but you have to start a discussion and support them. Per says he is very lucky that he can do what he loves. Alexander asks what’s the key to success to release hit after hit. Per says he doesn’t think about it, that there is a key. He is often asked how to write a hit, but there is no trick in it. He has this musical capacity, which doesn’t mean he is a good musician or singer. He thinks he is very good at finding the right people to work with and via them he becomes better. He is also good at motivating them so those who he works with become better too. Per thinks for example that Marie gives her best when she is working with him, but it’s subjective. Most of the relationships, even in Per’s working life last long. He’s been  working with Clarence Öfwerman since 1986, he has the same business management since 1980, same management since 1985, Live Nation since 1982. He is proud that both the people around him and he himself still have the motivation to work together after so long years. But how the songs become hits, he doesn’t know. Mr. G says he always wants to maximize the potential of everything. Why should one be satisfied with being great in Halmstad if he can become the greatest in Sweden? Or in the world. Per doesn’t rate himself being nearly as good songwriter as Lennon-McCartney or Tom Petty or Burt Bacharach, but it’s not a contest anyway. It’s about maximizing what you can do.

In the interview Per tells he is about to release a live album before Christmas and a tour photo book (photographed by Anders Roos) as well. Mr. G says he released 2 Swedish albums in 2017, En vacker natt and En vacker dag. Now he has finished translating on of the albums into English. It will be released in spring 2018. For that album he recorded 3 new songs. There are other plans too, but he can’t talk about them yet. It will be busy, busy, busy.

The last questions are coming. Alexander asks Per if he could recommend a good documentary. Mr. G says he has just seen a good one on Netflix, Danny Says about Danny Fields. He worked for Elektra Records when it was an exciting period in the music industry. He worked with The Ramones. Regarding a good book, Per says he is reading mainly biographies. Now he is reading Robbie Robertson, a book about albums recorded in 1971. For a nerd like him, it’s a great book about a fascinating year in music.

Alexander asks Per to tell a tip to become successful. One should follow his gut feeling as much as possible, but it is also important to find what you are really burning for. Once you find it, you will succeed. Regarding money, Per says if you are working in a creative process, you always have to prioritize creativity. If money comes along, it’s an extra.

Alexander asks Per who he thinks he should do an interview with. Per says it’s a difficult question. It’s always fun to hear Ulf Lundell in an interview, so good luck with catching up with him.

At the end of the interview Alexander asks how someone can get into contact with Per. Mr. G says one can follow him on Twitter or on Facebook and listen to him on Spotify.

 

Pictures of Alexander and Per during the interview: 1; 2;

 

Jan Gradvall’s podcast interview with Per Gessle

Jan Gradvall in his podcast tries to find out what drives Per Gessle, what his secret is and what happens if you analyze Gessle’s songs in depth. Jan is trying to do it via analyzing ”Allt gick så fort”, which is one of Per’s most personal songs he has ever written and can be found on the new album, ”En vacker natt”.

Per says it’s the central song on the album. He tells he read an interview with David Crosby who told he had five guitars in his bedroom and that all of them were tuned differently. Per thought it’s cool. Mr. G experimented a lot with traditional tunings, but then he googled David Crosby’s tunings and found out there are a lot of variants and found one which was very odd. So Per tried some new tricks, playing his old chords in a new way, creating completely new sounds.

”Allt gick så fort” is very text-oriented. It starts with an accident Per witnessed during a visit to France. Per says it’s a song that kind of writes itself. It matures through a whole life and suddenly it feels ready to be written down.

Jan asks Per what he is singing about when it’s in the lyrics that he was 8 years old. Per says the lyrics tell a whole life in a way. The text starts with an unknown person, but then suddenly, you sing about yourself, when you are a child and then it’s about when you are 18 and in love for the first time. In between there is another person seeing the whole thing from another angle, in the middle of his life, in the middle of his career and realizes it all went so fast. Per says the song was written very fast, but the guitar tuning was tricky. Jan asks how exactly that tuning is done. Per says when he wrote the song he went to Halmstad, to MP’s studio to record a demo. It went very well with all that new tuning. Then he went to Nashville to record it properly, but he had no clue how he did that in Halmstad, so they had to use his demo.

The whole Nashville project was different to whatever Per has done before and it’s not like today’s pop music when everything is done on computers. Per wanted to try something new. It became a completely organic album. It’s not an album for everybody. It’s for a certain audience. Per thinks many can identify with it, but many will think it’s too slow or the violin is too whiny. But it doesn’t matter. For him it was important to make this record. He wanted the lyrics and his voice to be in focus. The fantastic musicians in Nashville added a lot to it, Dan Dugmore with his pedal steel playing or Stuart Duncan with his violin playing.

Jan finds the expression ”I sin icke dansande generation” (= in his non-dancing generation) fantastic and he asks Per how he came up with this. Per says when you are sitting and chatting you realize that your generation is a non-dancing one. He finds the rhymes and songwriting exciting.

Jan mentions there are many returning symbols in Per’s lyrics on the new album, like sea, beaches, nature. Per says he has always used symbols like flowers, sea, winds, things you associate with images when you are listening to a song. It somehow makes the listener be part of the song. They recognize the smell, the taste, the feeling.

Jan and Per talk about Per’s family, that he has lost his mom, brother and sister during the past 3 years. When his sister, Gunilla died, her son found a box of 25-30 old diapositives from 1965-66. Even Per appeared on some of them. Mr. G chose a pic of Gunilla, standing and singing probably in Tylösand, to be on the album cover. Per thinks the colour of the diapositive fits the album very well.

Per tells Jan that Anton Corbijn was in New Orleans, shooting Arcade Fire when Per was in Nashville and so Anton came over and took some fantastic pictures of Per. First Per thought one of those should be on the cover, but after her sister’s diapositives were found he changed his mind. This way it is more personal and even more unexpected. The second album ”En vacker dag” will have a 1965 pic of Per’s mom on the cover, with a picnic table just behind the family’s Volvo Amazon.

Jan asks Per if losing his relatives has affected Mr. G in a way that it can be heard on the album. Per says yes and no. It of course has affected him, but none of the songs are directly about this. ”Allt gick så fort” might sound like that a bit, but the rest of the songs were written last spring after Roxette stopped touring. Some of the songs were left-overs and were re-written, but most of them are newly written.

Jan and Per talk about an earlier interview from the Son of a Plumber times and Jan remembers Per told him that his father died when Gyllene Tider broke through and Per wrote ”När alla vännerna gått hem” after his dad died. Per says it’s true and of course what happens in your life has its effects on you. These two albums he has made now he couldn’t have done 10 or 15 years ago. You must have a certain experience, a certain security, a certain courage to be able to do it. You have to find your style, your language, your strength to be able to do it.

Jan tells Per he feels that when Per sings on this new album, he is more ”naked” and asks if it is conscious. Per says he wanted to put the lyrics in focus.

Jan says the album sounds in a way very much Nashville, but also very much Halmstad. Per was travelling around the world, but always came back to Halmstad. Per says the older you get the more you go back to your roots, where you come from. It’s like when sometimes he is sitting and checking songs on Spotify and sees billions of them and he goes back to listen to songs he likes from 1967. And yes, there is a Nashville sound on the album, but at the same time, it’s Per’s stlye.

Mr. G says he wanted an album that is text-oriented and very simple, acoustic. First they just thought they shouldn’t record it in Sweden. They thought about studios in England and France, then Nashville popped up and Per liked the idea of a fusion between Tennesse and Halland. A little country has always been there in Per’s solo music. Neil Young’s “Harvest” stlye. They had no plans at all when they left Sweden for Nashville. First Per played the acoustic guitar and sang a bit, then they asked the studio if they could help to find local musicians. There are two world famous pedal steel players, Dan Dugmore and Paul Franklin. Dan Dugmore is the one who plays the pedal steel on Per’s album. When he listened to Per’s songs he wrote down numbers instead of chords. How Dan played changed the songs. Since they wanted to save time, they recorded 3-4 takes and then edited them later while mixing.

The same day Dan Dugmore came to the studio, Stuart Duncan came too to play the violin. When Per heard him playing he said wow. Everything became better and better, like the intro to ”Småstadsprat”. Then they needed a harmonica player, so Mickey Raphael plays on 3-4 songs.

Jan asks what Per thinks why his melodies are so special that they are attractive even to those who can’t speak Swedish. Per thinks they are beautiful, that’s why the albums are titled “En vacker natt” and “En vacker dag” (“A beatiful night” and “A beautiful day”). At least that was his ambition. Jan asks where Per’s melodies come from. They come from the ‘60s, but also from the Swedish traditional music. Here Per talks about his adventures with his friend, Peter as troubadours who played at nursing homes for old people. Per played the guitar and sang, Peter also played the guitar and the flute. They played everything they could and it included a lot of country as well. As troubadours, once they had to play at an old people’s nursing home in a new place in Halmstad. They entered a big table tennis hall and there were two men lying in there, they were not moving at all. They didn’t know what to do, there was no personnel around, so they just sat in the middle of the hall and started playing some songs, Proud Mary or something. Suddenly a nurse came and asked what the hell they were doing. They said they were just playing songs. A lot of doctors rushed in and then it turned out that one of the men there was in coma and he woke up to the sound of Per and Peter playing music. The day after it turned out that they shouldn’t even have to be there, at that place, but he will never forget that day. One can see that music makes miracles.

Pic from Jan Gradvall’s Instagram.

 

Per Gessle’s Top9 Christmas songs

Somehow we could sense it wasn’t just a random post by Per yesterday when he shared the whole lot of the podcast series of Gessles nio i topp. Now we can see it was because there is a Christmas edition! Woohoo! Per and Sven sat together and had some Xmas fun their own way. They say they did it because of the very successful first season of Gessles nio i topp. Listen to the podcast HERE!

Per actually dislikes Christmas songs, but even in his career one of the biggest hits started out as a Christmas song. It Must Have Been Love (Christmas For The Broken Hearted) came out in 1987 and it became a gold record in Sweden. But the song became a worldwide hit only after it appeared in the movie Pretty Woman.

Mr. G’s Top9 Xmas songs:

9. Sjömansjul på Hawaii (1945)
8. The Who – Christmas (1969)
7. David Bowie and Bing Crosby – Peace on Earth/Little Drummer Boy (1982)
6. Wizzard – I Wish It Could Be Christmas Everyday (1973)
5. John & Yoko/Plastic Ono Band – Happy Xmas (War Is Over) (1971)
4. Slade – Merry Xmas Everybody (1973)
3. The Pogues feat. Kirsty MacColl – Fairytale of New York (1987)
2. Joni Mitchell – River (1971)
1. Charles Brown – Please Come Home for Christmas (1960)

 

The only Swedish Christmas song Per thinks is quite good is Sjömansjul på Hawaii from 1945. The music played on Hawaii guitar is quite cool, he thinks. Next song on Per’s list is The Who’s Christmas. One can find it on the double album, Tommy. Per says he is fascinated by that album and he can still listen to it from A to Z. The 7th best is Peace on Earth/Little Drummer Boy performed by David Bowie and Bing Crosby. The single became one of Bowie’s best selling in his career. Since Bowie hated Little Drummer Boy, he didn’t want to sing it and this way it was Crosby who sang that part and Bowie sang Peace on Earth which was written and added to the song especially for Bowie and Crosby. Per suggests you watch the video of the TV show. He understands why it became such a classic hit.

Song No. 6 is I Wish It Could Be Christmas Everyday by Wizzard, one of the best British glam rock bands. Per tells when Gyllene Tider got a contract at EMI in 1979, Lasse Lindbom was the producer and they made a Christmas album, Glitter, Glögg & Rock ‘N’ Roll with various EMI artists. 24:de December was GT’s debut song and Per also wrote Swedish lyrics to the Wizzard song and it became Om Jag Bara Fick En Elgitarr Till Jul performed by Lasse Lindbom Band on the album.

5th fave Christmas song is Happy Xmas (War Is Over) by John & Yoko/Plastic Ono Band. Per still has the original single in his collection. The coolest glam rock single according to Mr. G is Merry Xmas Everybody by Slade. Per thinks one of the most known Christmas songs is Fairytale of New York by The Pogues feat. Kirsty MacColl. Joni Mitchell’s River is magical music. And the No. 1 Christmas song is a fantastic one from 1960, Please Come Home for Christmas from Charles Brown. Even Eagles and Jon Bon Jovi did covers of this song.

It turns out Sven likes Christmas, he thinks it’s wonderful. Per asks if it isn’t sad that Christmas starts already in September nowadays and Sven says yeah it’s strange that Christmas songs start playing when birds are still singing. Per says he thinks Christmas is terrible nowadays, but he remembers it was nice when he got e.g. records for Christmas like Patterns by Ola & the Janglers in 1966. It’s an awesome album, he thinks.

Besides hearing some lovely ho-ho-ho’s, we get to know that the guys continue with their podcast on Swedish Radio in spring 2017. Awesome news!

 

Per Gessle’s Top9 guitar riffs in rock history

The last podcast in this Top9 series is about Per’s favourite guitar riffs. Per and Sven say that a good riff is often in the intro of a song, but it can also come back inside the song. Per collected 70-80 hits with great riffs and then narrowed down his list to 9. Listen to the podcast or download it from HERE!

Mr. G’s Top9 guitar riffs:

9. Black Sabbath – Paranoid
8. The Rolling Stones – The Last Time
7. Led Zeppelin – Kashmir
6. The Who – I Can’t Explain
5. AC/DC – Back In Black
4. Sex Pistols – God Save The Queen
3. The Kinks – You Really Got Me
2. David Bowie – Rebel Rebel
1. Norman Greenbaum – Spirit In The Sky

zdf_pg
PG screenshot is from the ZDF interview

Black Sabbath’s Paranoid has a fantastic guitar riff. Per thinks the song itself is a little too pop for being a Black Sabbath track. The Rolling Stones is a gigantic riff band, Keith Richards is called The Human Riff. The Last Time has a very catchy riff which goes on in a loop in the verses. The hook was played by Brian Jones, not by Keith and so it’s assumed to be composed by Brian. When the guys start talking about Led Zeppelin it turns out that Sven had a weak moment in the ’80s and got a ZoSo tattoo, which symbolizes Jimmy Page. Jimmy is also a fantastic, tricky guitarist.

Pete Townshend from The Who is another riff king, having a great archive of incomparable guitar riffs. Pete has a completely unique style. After I Can’t Explain got played, Sven asks Per which he thinks the coolest guitar riff is written by Mr. G himself. Per says it’s Sleeping In My Car. PG tells the story of how he wrote the song. When they recorded the album Crash! Boom! Bang!, the record company missed a very strong song to have a lead single. So Per went home and wrote SIMC. He says he thought about Paul McCartney’s album, Ram which includes the song The Back Seat Of My Car. He found it catchy and included it in the lyrics of SIMC. Mr. G played the demo for the song at EMI with Anders Herrlin and Clarence Öfwerman and they liked the song from the beginning and thought it had a real power pop title.

AC/DC make damn good pop music. Per remembers he saw them live as the support act to Black Sabbath at Olympen in Lund, 1977. AC/DC were an unknown band back then, but they actually became much better than Black Sabbath. Their song Back In Black has an awesome guitar riff. Sex Pistols with God Save The Queen is at No. 4 on Per’s list. It has a deadly guitar riff, awesome lyrics and it’s a fab pop song. Per says he missed Sex Pistols playing live in Halmstad 1977. Mr. G already talked about this memory in a previous podcast episode, why he and MP didn’t go in and see the show. They thought it was a bit too dangerous there. Sven and Per talk about Mr. G’s Sex Pistols single collection and that there was a most expensive single in England ”Pretty Vacant” which was worth 13,000 GBP. But that’s not the copy Per has in his library.

No. 3 is You Really Got Me by The Kinks. It has a legendary guitar riff, a very sexy groove. The first guitar riff Per heard from The Kinks was however another one, in Till The End Of The Day. The funny thing about YRGM is that it was written by Ray Davies on piano, but he then thought it would work better on guitar. It’s a super cool production.

Here comes David Bowie at No. 2 with Rebel Rebel. It’s a wonderful song and has a fantastic, intelligent guitar riff. The hit sounds a bit outside of the album, Diamond Dogs. Per loves DD. There were no lyrics to the album and there was no Google at those times. Per finds it important to have the lyrics to be able to follow the text. He bought a kind of sheet music where he could follow the chords and got the lyrics as well. The songs on the album have very sophisticated texts. Rebel Rebel feels like it’s the end of Bowie’s glam period and it’s David himself who played the guitar in it. Per says it was an incredible shock when Bowie died, but his music lives on. He is Per’s biggest hero, he was a fantastic artist and he changed PG’s life.

Mr. G’s No. 1 guitar riff is in a one hit wonder song, Norman Greenbaum’s Spirit In The Sky. Per thinks it’s the coolest riff one has ever written. The song is a tribute to Jesus or something like that. The guitar sound and the whole production are fantastic. The producer of the song is Erik Jacobsen, who also produced e.g. Tim Hardin, The Lovin’ Spoonful and even Chris Isaak’s Wicked Game.

 

Is it really the last podcast in this series? Can’t be! This should go on and on for the rest of our lives! The good thing in the podcast is that you can listen to it again and again anytime. In case you want to listen to all episodes again, check our article including the link to each of the 10 parts. Enjoy!

Thanx Per and Sven for your enthusiasm and sharing it with us and thanx to Swedish Radio for the opportunity! Keep up the good thing!