Per Gessle – Gessles nio i topp – Nine songs about money

Last Saturday, in the last episode of this season’s Gessles nio i topp on Swedish Radio, Per Gessle and Sven Lindström discussed songs about money. Sven asks the 1 million SEK question if there is a connection between money and happiness. The guys can’t tell, but Per says money is nice and happiness is nice too, so it’s a good combo. Sven adds, especially if they exist at the same time.

Per’s Top 9 songs about money

9. The O’Jays – For The Love Of Money
8. Pink Floyd – Money
7. Daryl Hall & John Oates – Rich Girl
6. Steve Miller Band – Take The Money And Run
5. Pet Shop Boys – Opportunities (Let’s Make Lots Of Money)
4. The Flying Lizards – Money
3. The Sonics – Money
2. Madonna – Material Girl
1. The Beatles – Taxman

Before they get down to the No. 9 track, Mr. G says it wasn’t too easy to put together a list of 9, because there are so many songs about money, especially in modern music, in the hip hop world. He picked a nice funk song, however, he knows Sven is not really interested in funk music. Per can’t say he is a fan of funk either, but he likes e.g. David Bowie’s Fame, Papa Was A Rollin’ Stone from The Temptations. He chose a song from 1974, For The Love Of Money from The O’Jays, from their Ship Ahoy album. It’s typical Philadelphia soul. There are a lot of cool sound effects in it and it has an awesome intro. Sven says we are back in a disco somewhere in the spring of 1974 and while Per is on the dancefloor, Sven goes and buys… Here he can’t finish what he wants to say, because Per jokes he wasn’t let in. They are laughing.

Next on the list is Money from Pink Floyd from 1973. It was quite a big hit single. It has an unusual 7/4 time signature. Per says he liked The Dark Side of the Moon album and he thinks Pink Floyd was an exciting band back then. The band released their first singles in 1967 and See Emily Play, written by Syd Barrett, was one of Mr. G’s favourites. David Bowie also covered it for his Pin Ups album and then it became even better. Per says his brother had Pink Floyd’s Ummagumma double LP that included live recordings, e.g. Set the Controls for the Heart of the Sun. Sven says they had Pink Floyd’s next album, Atom Heart Mother which had a cow on the cover. The Dark Side of the Moon is one of the best selling albums worldwide. After TDSOTM, Per wasn’t really interested in Pink Floyd. Sven asks Mr. G what Money means to him and Per says he has an idiotic memory of the song. They had a class party where he was the DJ and the first song he played was Money. He realized that the 7/4 time signature was not the best for dancing. Sven says he has a similar memory from a New Year’s Eve party where he played Speed King from Deep Purple. So Money wasn’t a dancefloor hit, but it became a big radio hit. It was recorded at Abbey Road Studios and Alan Parsons was the engineer.

Next track is Rich Girl from Daryl Hall & John Oates. Per always liked Hall & Oates’ singles, e.g. Maneater, Out of Touch. Rich Girl he also likes, but he doesn’t know much about the duo. Sven says he had their LP that came out on 1976, Bigger Than Both of Us, but he also rather listened to their singles instead of their albums. They had six US No. 1 hits and Rich Girl was their first No. 1. Per thinks it’s an awesome song. Many interpreted it as being about the Patty Hearst scandal that happened at the same time. The timing was probably great for this song. Sven says songwriter Daryl Hall had a TV program on which he met artists and discussed their songs. Per says he saw the program when the guys from the band Cheap Trick were Daryl’s guests in his home studio. It can be found on YouTube.

When Per picked the next song, he thought Sven would be happy, because he loves this band. It’s the Steve Miller Band and the song is Take The Money And Run. Mr. G thinks Steve Miller’s singles are awesome, e.g. The Joker, Jet Airliner, Rock’n Me, Abracadabra. Sven says besides these he likes Steve Miller’s old stuff from 1969-1971. Pop with Texas blues tradition, so even if he plays blues, there is a feeling of pop in Miller’s music. Sven thinks there is a nice guitar swing in TTMAR. Per thinks it’s actually good music to be listened to in the car. After the song is played, Sven tells PG was clapping while they were listening to it.

Now the guys are travelling to London. Pet Shop Boys is next with Opportunities (Let’s Make Lots Of Money). Sven remembers that he was in Los Angeles in the spring of 1986 and all the radio channels played West End Girls. Per thinks WEG is still awesome with the rapping in the verse. Mr. G always liked Pet Shop Boys, they are a big singles band for him. He likes their synth-pop and Neil Tennant’s smart lyrics. Per thinks Neil is a fantastic lyricist. He read his book that includes his texts and they are great even without music. The song Per picked for this list exists in different versions, but he chose the one that appeared on PSB’s debut album Please. Mr. G thinks it’s a very typical song of the time and when you hear Pet Shop Boys, it makes you happy.

No. 4 on the list is Money from The Flying Lizards. It’s a cover version of Barrett Strong’s Money, written by Motown Records founder Berry Gordy. Per bought it as a single. The Flying Lizards’ new wave version was a hit in 1979. Sven adds even The Beatles covered this song for their album on which they released other Motown covers too (Please Mr. Postman, You Really Got a Hold on Me among them). If Barrett Strong was a co-writer of the song is a neverending story, but what is sure is that he wrote several Motown hits, the lyrics of them. E.g. I Heard It Through the Grapevine, War (by Edwin Starr), I Can’t Get Next to You (by The Temptations). Per adds that War was written for The Temptations and it turned out for him from the musical based on The Temptations’ music, but in the end it was released as a single by Edwin Starr and it became No. 1. The guys are then talking a bit about decisions in the music business and mention Don’t You (Forget About Me) which was declined by Bryan Ferry, but became a hit by Simple Minds.

Per and Sven are talking about Robert Fripp who was member of The Flying Lizards, but is mostly known for being the member of King Crimson. He is Per’s favourite guitar player. He was involved in David Bowie’s career too.

The Sonics’ Money is No. 3 from 1965. It is also a cover of Barrett Strong’s Money, a garage rock version of it. The singer is Gerry Roslie who also plays organ. Why Per picked the same song from 2 different artists is because these are totally differently interpreted versions. Sven likes the drum sound in it. They used just one mic over the drums and even Kurt Cobain was amazed by that and thought that’s the best drum sound he had ever heard.

No. 2 is Madonna’s Material Girl from 1984. Per says she is an artist one can easily have a love-hate relationship with. Mr. G is not a super fan of Madonna, but he thinks she released some incredibly good singles in the ’80s. Material Girl is a peak in her career, he thinks. Producer of the song was Nile Rodgers who produced Madonna’s Like A Virgin album. Per thinks he is a phenomenal producer, the biggest in the world in that period. He also produced David Bowie’s Let’s Dance album. From Like A Virgin, Per also likes Dress You Up. It could have been a single, he thinks. LAV is Madonna’s second studio album and it was released during the time when she appeared in the movie Desperately Seeking Susan. Parallel to her, there was Cyndi Lauper on the music scene, but Madonna drove past her with this album.

No. 1 on this season’s final list is Taxman from The Beatles. Per thinks it’s fun to write a song about taxes in the pop world. The song was written by George Harrison and was released as the opening track on their Revolver album in 1966. Mr. G still thinks that’s the best album of The Beatles. It’s Paul McCartney who plays the guitar solo in the song, not George himself. It’s an ingenious solo, Sven thinks. In the lyrics, Harrison got a little help from John Lennon. Taxman protests against the higher level of progressive tax imposed in the UK by the Labour government of Harold Wilson. Both Wilson and Ted Heath (leader of the Opposition at the time) are mentioned in the chorus. Per thinks it’s a very typical song of the time. The album cover is designed by Klaus Voormann.

At the end of the program, they guys tell this is the last episode of the fourth season of Gessles nio i topp and they thank the listeners for joining them. They hope to be back again in the future.

Per Gessle – Gessles nio i topp – Nine songs about flying

Last Saturday, Per Gessle and Sven Lindström discussed songs about flying in the new episode of Gessles nio i topp on Swedish Radio. Per starts the program with a tongue twister while eating a mazarin: ”Flyg, fula fluga, flyg! Och den fula flugan flög.” (Fly, ugly fly, fly! And the ugly fly flew.)

Per’s Top 9 songs about flying

9. Status Quo – Paper Plane
8. Oasis – Supersonic
7. Ike & Tina Turner – I Want To Take You Higher
6. Flamin’ Groovies – High Flyin’ Baby
5. 10cc – I’m Mandy Fly Me
4. The Byrds – Eight Miles High
3. Paul McCartney, Wings – Jet
2. Steve Miller Band – Jet Airliner
1. Tom Petty and the Heartbreakers – Learning To Fly

No. 9 on the list is Paper Plane from Status Quo. Per says SQ is a fantastic band, but they hardly play them. Sven says it’s probably because they are similar to the Ramones, they are rarely played on the radio and they didn’t have a real chance to come out in the US. Per adds their music is not really radio friendly. SQ is Mats MP Persson’s favourite band and Mr. G says their first albums in the ’70s (Hello!, Quo, Piledriver) were great. Paper Plane was the first single released from Piledriver in 1972. Sven tells this is from the beginning of SQ’s 2nd chapter. They were formed in 1967, but they went from moderate pop psychedelia to general rock. Per says they had a classic shuffle, a typical beat in their songs and he also demonstrates it. Sven says it’s a mix of pop and blues, but the feeling is more pop. Per adds Rain and Caroline, they could also be Ramones songs. Sven tells they are actually more related than one would think. Pure pop melody. Status Quo were very successful in the UK, many of their tracks charted, but none of their songs hit the US charts.

Next on the list is Supersonic from Oasis. Per always liked this song. He mentions there was a fight between Oasis and Blur in the mid of the ’90s. Oasis had fantastic songs on their debut album. Sven agrees that their first two albums were very good, there was Liam’s great attitude, then something changed. Supersonic was their debut single in 1994. It was recorded in Liverpool, however, Oasis was from Manchester. The song was the result of a jam session and it was never remixed. Noel actually wrote it in the studio while the others were out for a break to eat Chinese food. Sven jokes and asks whether writing the song went so fast or the guys were away for too long at the Chinese restaurant. Per says they should ask Siri [a digital assistant for Apple devices]. They are laughing. The guys are talking a bit about the deteriorating relationship of Noel and Liam Gallagher before they play the Supersonic.

Next one is an old favourite of Per’s, I Want To Take You Higher from Ike & Tina Turner. Originally it was a Sly & the Family Stone B-side released in 1969. They also played it in the Woodstock movie. Sly & the Family Stone played unorganized, messy music and they had too long songs according to the guys. Ike & Tina Turner’s version of I Want To Take You Higher released in 1970 is more structured.

High Flyin’ Baby from Flamin’ Groovies is next. They are probably one of the most underrated bands in rock history according to Per. Sven agrees. Their best album was Teenage Head and it also had a terribly cool cover. Even Mick Jagger loved this album.  Sticky Fingers from The Rolling Stones was released a month later in 1971 and Jagger thought Teenage Head turned out to be better. Per thinks Sticky Fingers is The Roling Stones’ best album. Teenage Head was not as widely spread as it would have deserved. The genre, Americana is not used as a term since so long ago, but actually this music is a mix of country, blues, rhythm and blues, pop and rock ’n’ roll. High Flyin’ Baby is the opening song on Teenage Head.

I’m Mandy Fly Me from 10cc is No. 5. Kevin Godley and Lol Creme from the band are still alive and active. The song is from their How Dare You! album released in 1976, same year as Bowie’s Station to Station came out. There were 4 individualists in the band who made a collage of their ideas. They had 2 songwriter teams of 2-2 band members. According to Per, I’m Mandy Fly Me has a little The Beach Boys sound to it. It was the second single from How Dare You! Sven says the first single, Art for Art’s Sake is more his cup of tea. Per thinks it has brilliant 10cc lyrics: ”Art for art’s sake / Money for God’s sake”. Graham Gouldman is a fantastic songwriter, he already wrote so many great hits in the ’60s when he was very young. E.g. Bus Stop for The Hollies or Pamela, Pamela. After the song is played, Per jokes and says Sven can remove his hands from his ears referring to the fact that Sven doesn’t like 10cc. Haha.

Per picks a song that Sven likes too, Eight Miles High from The Byrds. The Byrds were flying to their England tour in 1965 and the idea came – according to the legend – when they landed at Heathrow. It’s a good story at least. The band did a phenomenal recording of this psychedelic pop song and they released it in the spring of 1966. Because of perceived drug connotations, the song was banned on many radio stations. Paranoia, Per says. He thinks The Byrds’ sound is still unique. They inspired many bands, Tom Petty and The Heartbreakers among others. In EMH those Rickenbackers and that glittery soundscape are incredibly attractive. The Byrds’ unique sound is given by the great combination of bass, drums, guitar and even a twelve-string guitar which is special. But there is something more in there. Chris Hillman’s bass and Crosby’s guitar, as well as the vocal harmonies are phenomenal. The song was written by Gene Clark, Jim McGuinn and David Crosby. It’s timeless quality pop.

No. 3 on the list is Jet from Paul McCartney & Wings. Paul McCartney likes to write songs about his dogs, e.g. Martha My Dear. He had a labrador called Jet and that’s where the title comes from. The song was released on his Band on the Run album in 1973. The album was recorded in Nigeria, but Jet was recorded at Abbey Road, London. Per had Jet as a single and he thinks McCartney was wonderfully playful at the time. BOTR is one of the best solo albums a Beatle ever did, however, Per’s favourite McCartney solo album is Ram. Sven’s favourite McCartney record is his first solo album. He thinks the more instruments McCartney plays on a song it makes it more simple. Per say he is multitalented, he can play everything and in his own way. Very original. Mr. G thinks Paul is a fantastic drummer. He plays the drums e.g. in Back in the U.S.S.R. and The Ballad of John and Yoko. Sven asks Per how good he is as a drummer. Per says he is pretty lousy. Sven says drum is one thing, guitar is another. Per says he is happy that he can distinguish them from each other. Haha. Sven asks if he can distinguish different guitars, whether it’s a Fender or a Gibson. Per says there is a typical sound of Gibson Les Paul and there is a typical Rickenbacker sound or a typical Fender Telecaster.

No. 2 is Jet Airliner from the Steve Miller Band. Steve Miller is a common favourite of Sven and Per. He used Fender Stratocaster and Sven thought he used that on this song too, but it turned out he recorded it with an Ibanez. Mr. G says he could have picked Fly Like an Eagle as well. Sven likes that song too, but he thinks Jet Airliner is an unbeatable pop song. Per also thinks it’s really catchy. Sven always thought it was written by Steve Miller, but it is Paul Pena’s song. In 1973 Pena recorded an album which was produced by a former member of the Steve Miller Band who played the unreleased album to Steve Miller. He became hooked on Jet Airliner and recorded his own version in 1977. It was perfect for American radios. Sven mentions that Pena was blind and that his primary income became the royalties from this single. Talking about Steve Miller, Per says for him he was a singles artist. He had his own sound and he was kind of a prodigy. Mr. G bought his singles Rock’n Me, The Joker. Abracadabra was a big hit too. He also mentions that his brother had an album, Endless Boogie by John Lee Hooker and a very young Steve Miller was playing the guitar on it.

No. 1 is Tom Petty and the Heartbreakers with Learning To Fly. Per thinks it’s a fantastic song with 4 chords that go round and round in a nevernding loop. The Heartbreakers took a new direction when Jeff Lynne started producing them. The cooperation started with the album Full Moon Fever that became Tom Petty’s big commercial break-through. They wrote a lot of songs together. Learning to Fly is from the album Into the Great Wide Open which includes many great songs. Per likes Jeff Lynne as a pop craftsman. He likes his productions, being it for his own band or Bryan Adams. The Traveling Wilburys sound more like Jeff Lynne than Tom Petty, Mr. G thinks. Learning To Fly is very simple, it has a damn strong text. When Tom Petty passed away, there was a clip of Bob Dylan on YouTube where he played a very touching version of Learning To Fly live on piano.

PG on a helicopter in 2013. Pic is taken from Roxette’s Facebook page

Per Gessle – Gessles nio i topp – Nine songs about cities

Last Saturday, Per Gessle and Sven Lindström discussed songs about cities in the new episode of Gessles nio i topp on Swedish Radio. At the beginning of the podcast Sven mentions that Per is associated with Halmstad that belongs to pop culture in a way. Per agrees and says there are different sounds associated with different cities. There is certainly a DNA even via laptops that shows where one comes from even in this digital world. Sven asks what the top of mind cities are to Per in pop culture. He says Liverpool for The Beatles of course, but there is also a typical Los Angeles sound, Chicago sound, Miami sound, New York sound. Also London sound. Sound of Stockholm bands at the end of the ’70s. According to Per, Halmstad was Sweden’s Liverpool in 1980-81. There were 130 bands in Halmstad in the ’80s, which is not bad given the population was 80,000. Per says there are bands that are named after cities, e.g. Boston, Kansas, but he picked songs that have a city or a district in the song title.

Per’s Top 9 songs about cities

9. Moon Martin – Hot Nite in Dallas
8. Bob & Earl – Harlem Shuffle
7. Bobby Bare – That’s How I Got to Memphis
6. Mott the Hoople – All the Way from Memphis
5. The Chainsmokers – Paris
4. Ike & Tina Turner – Nutbush City Limits
3. Katrina and the Waves – Going Down to Liverpool
2. Scott McKenzie – San Francisco (Be Sure to Wear Some Flowers in Your Hair)
1. Linnea Henriksson – Halmstad

No. 9 on the list is Moon Martin with Hot Nite in Dallas from 1978. Sven says Moon Martin is a common favourite of Per and him. He tells the singer is not super famous and Per tells he bumped into MM’s music in the beginning of the ’80s. PG saw him on Måndagsbörsen and he was also at the same record label as Gyllene Tider, EMI. Per says his first 2-3 albums were awesome. He was called ”Moon” because he used the word moon so many times in his lyrics. His real name was John Martin. He had a very special, expressive voice, the guys say and he was a talented songwriter. Moon Martin wrote e.g. Bad Case of Loving You that became a hit in Robert Palmer’s interpretation, Cadillac Walk and Rolene for Mink DeVille. Hot Nite in Dallas is from his first album, the first song on it. He passed away not too long ago. Producer of his first album was Craig Leon who also produced the Ramones’ first album. One can hear a little scaled-down Ramones sound on Moon Martin’s album. Per says it’s very simple, but sounds very good. He thinks American recordings sounded better than Swedish recordings at the time.

Next on the list is Harlem Shuffle from Bob & Earl from 1963. It wasn’t the Bob & Earl version of the song Sven and Per heard first, but The Rolling Stones’ who did a cover of it many years later. It wasn’t a big hit in 1963, but Sven says it has a great sound. Per says George Harrison called it his favourite song of all time. In 1969 it was reissued after the record label being bought by another one and then it became a big hit in the UK. Then the Rolling Stones covered it in 1986. The guys talk about the mid ’80s, that it was a dark period for The Rolling Stones, but also for Tom Petty. Sven says there was a kind of climate change in pop music back then.

That’s How I Got to Memphis from Bobby Bare is next. There is a typical Memphis sound too, Per says, referring to the beginning of the podcast. This song he picked is not a very famous one, if someone is not a country fan of course. It’s written by Tom T. Hall and is also known as How I Got to Memphis. Per chose the original version of it from 1970. It has a lovely, classic country style and a storytelling text that makes it special. The ’70s was a wonderful era for country. Sven says his favourite quote is from Tom Petty when he produced Johnny Cash in the ’90s and said they should make a classic country album, because ”I think most country today sounds like bad rock with a fiddle”. Bobby Bare sounds like classic Nashville country. Per agrees and tells modern country for him sounds like ’70s and ’80s arena rock, if you are listening to Keith Urban for example. It doesn’t sound like Kris Kristofferson or George Jones. Bobby Bare tried to break through with his songwriting in the ’50s. He got a record contract from guitarist Chet Atkins at RCA and in 1963 Detroit City was his break-through song. Gunnar Wiklund covered it in Swedish, Nu reser jag hem.

Staying in Memphis, the guys start talking about Memphis, Tennessee from Johnny Rivers. It’s a 1964 cover of Chuck Berry’s original version. Per sings a little here. Sven says he bought the live album that has Memphis on it and is dreaming away that it would be awesome to have a time machine and go back to see of course The Beatles live, but also Johnny Rivers at a small club in the US. Per says it’s not a bad idea.

Still staying in Memphis, Per picked All the Way from Memphis from Mott the Hoople as No. 6. Both Per and Sven love Mott the Hoople. This song is from 1973, the middle of the glitter era. David Bowie helped them to find a new audience when he produced their album, All the Young Dudes. Per thinks it’s hard to listen to their early records, but Bowie cleaned up their sound and made it more mainstream. Their album, Mott that includes ATWFM was their best record, Per thinks. Sven agrees. The band was on a roll that year. They had another big hit, Honaloochie Boogie released on the same album. Per thinks it’s a song that is incredibly hard to listen to. He thinks all the bands that have a prominent piano in their soundscape, it takes so much space that it easily confronts with other instruments. That was the case with Mott the Hoople. Sven thinks the production of ATWFM is awesome. Per says Mick Ralphs’ guitar riff fits the song’s essence very well, the storytelling of touring life. Ian Hunter is a fantastic songwriter and storyteller, but first of all a damn good lyricist. On stage he is boring, but his solo albums with Irene Wilde or Once Bitten Twice Shy on them are damn good. Both Sven and Per have the book, Diary of a Rock ‘n’ Roll Star by Ian Hunter. They are joking that it’s probably only them two who have it in Sweden.

Mr. G says it’s hard to pick modern songs, because when he is listening to them, sometimes he thinks, shit, it sounds like Neil Young, but he was a bit better, or that sounds like David Bowie, but he did it a bit better, or it’s like Tina Tuner, but she was sharper. So it’s hard to choose new productions, mainly in pop music that the DJ culture has taken over. As No. 5, Per thought to pick a more modern song, Paris from The Chainsmokers. It’s a 3-year-old song and Per thinks it’s damn good. Sven agrees. Mr. G tells it’s new music for him, but a 19- or 20-year-old would probably say Paris is a golden oldie. Sven says when The Beatles released their compilation album in 1966, it’s title was A Collection of Beatles Oldies. That included songs that were only 3 years old. Back to Paris, Per says he really likes the sound of it. It’s open, warm, an easy listening and there is a swinging rhythm in it. It’s simply a nice pop song. According to Sven, it’s a typical modern pop song. Per adds, it’s a bit better than other modern pop hits. Sven asks Per in what way he is listening to new music. He says he is like his parents were: he picks up new music via his son. Sometimes he hears a song from Gabriel’s room and asks what that is because he thinks it’s very good. He realized that his son’s generation is constantly listening to music. Per’s generation did too, but this new generation doesn’t know what they are listening to. It comes in a flow. Per’s generation sat down with the physical album and read the inner sleeve, read the lyrics, who the technician was etc. They were waiting to listen to music. After Paris is played, Per asks Sven what he thinks about Chainsmokers. He says it was surprisingly good. Sven adds DJ pop is not so close to him.

Next one on the list is Nutbush City Limits from Ike & Tina Turner. Nutbush is a very little village in the US. Sven asks Per if he knows why Ike & Tina sang about it, but Mr. G doesn’t know. Sven informs that Tina Turner was born there and the song was written by her. Per says if you google Ike & Tina, you can find almost only cocaine addiction stuff, mainly from the ’70s. Per says this was one of their best songs and he had it as a single which he bought when it was released. It was a big hit in many countries in Europe, but not as big in the US. It’s a short and effective song. Sven tells there is an artist from Detroit, Bob Seger, who was kind of an underground rocker before he became a mainstream artist in the mid ’70s. He recorded a live album in 1975 on which the opening song was NCL, as he opened his shows with the cover of this song. Per says Tina Turner has always been an absolutely fantastic singer. Sven adds that she was also a great stage artist. She became one of the biggest artists in the world in the ’80s with Private Dancer. Sven tells Tina performed at Olympen in Lund in autumn 1983. It was in the beginning of her comeback after appr. 10 years of not being in the limelight. Her manager was Roger Davis. Per tells he never saw Tina performing live, but he was at her home. When she lived in Cologne, Marie and Per were there for dinner. Tina is married to a German guy who worked at EMI. Per tells Tina was at a Roxette concert in Germany. She was a big fan of Marie ”and hated me”, he adds. Just kidding. Sven says it must have been tough for Marie to know that Tina was her fan. Per said she also liked Tina.

No. 3 is Going Down to Liverpool. It became a hit when The Bangles covered it, but the original recording was done by Katrina and the Waves, the band that has one of the world’s most played songs, Walking on Sunshine. Both GDTL and WOS were written by Kimberley Rew and they are fantastic songs. Kimberley reminds Per a bit of Alex Chilton from The Box Tops and Big Star. In a certain period of his life he wrote fantastic songs. Same thing with Noel Gallagher, for some years anything he wrote was damn good, then it became half good. The guys have the theory that Kimberley and his band were fighting and fighting, then they got the record contract and WOS became a super hit and he got shocked. Per says people react on success in different ways. Some feel assured by it, others feel lost. The Bangles released GDTL on their debut album which was released only in Canada. Per likes the original version of the song more than The Bangles cover, because he thinks it’s rougher and Katrina Leskanich is an incredibly talented singer. Sven says he saw them at Kulturbolaget in Malmö in 1985 or 1986. They were a super tight, exemplary power pop band.

No. 2 is San Francisco (Be Sure to Wear Some Flowers in Your Hair) from Scott McKenzie. Regarding San Francisco, Per could have chosen San Francisco Nights as well, from Eric Burdon and The Animals, but he picked this one, because he thinks it’s one of the best songs in the world. Per thinks it’s magical: the whole sound, Scott’s voice, the production, the melody, the chord progression. Playing it on a guitar is a delight. Sven says there is a kind of secret in the composition of this song that makes it so good. All songs that become this good have the same secret according to Per: great production, wonderful voice, wonderful expression, very nice melody, touching lyrics. For him it symbolizes the perfect summer song. There is an aura of summer and harmony in it. Per was a bit too young for the Summer of Love (1967), he was only 8 years old then, but he still associates it with summer. Sven says the timing was also perfect. It was released in May, so the whole summer was ahead. One could have the feeling that the ”summer song” expression was born with San Francisco and Scott McKenzie. It was written by John Phillips, who was the leader of The Mamas & The Papas. He was a very talented composer and producer. Scott McKenzie himself was also a very talented songwriter. He wrote e.g. What About Me for Canadian singer Anne Murray and Kokomo for The Beach Boys. John Phillips was in top shape that time. While he was writing this song, he was organizing the Monterey Pop Festival in 1967. Per says when Roxette ended up in the US at the end of the ’80s, they got to know Wilson Phillips. The band was at the same record label. John Phillips’ daughter was a member of them. Sven asks if John Phillips was a member of The Mamas &The Papas, why he gave the song away to Scott McKenzie and not recorded it themselves. Per thinks Scott was asked to be a member of The Mamas & The Papas, but he said no, because he was coming from another band and wanted to do a solo career. So John gave him this song then.

Sven says Per lives both in Stockholm and Halmstad and he knows one of the candidates for this list of songs about cities was No Train to Stockholm by Lee Hazelwood from his album Cowboy in Sweden. Per thinks it’s a fantastic song, but since there was another list of nine forgotten artists earlier and he picked that song as No. 1 on that list, now he chose another one. That way the No. 1 on the songs about cities list is Halmstad from Linnea Henriksson. It’s a nice song and Linnea is super talented. Per thinks it’s her best song and of course he also thinks it’s a lovely idea to write a song that has the title Halmstad. He is wondering why it wasn’t him who came up with it. The guys are laughing. Linnea was the support act on Gyllene Tider’s 2013 tour and she also joined GT for their soccer song, Bäst när det gäller.

Pic of PG in the woods is from Roxette’s Facebook page and it was taken during the recording of Linnea’s Halmstad video in May 2014

Per Gessle – Gessles nio i topp – Nine songs about colors

Last Saturday, in the new episode of Gessles nio i topp on Swedish Radio, Per Gessle and Sven Lindström discussed songs about colors. According to Per, when you are listening to music, you often associate the songs with colors. In the studio he also associates his songs with colors. Sven says he read it about John Lennon that he also talked about colors, e.g. ”I want a green sound”. Mr. G says he can understand it and adds that there are a lot of songs that have colors in their titles.

Per’s Top 9 songs about colors

9. Cyndi Lauper – True Colors
8. Billy Idol – White Wedding
7. The Rolling Stones – Paint It Black
6. The Stranglers – Golden Brown
5. The Who – Behind Blue Eyes
4. Small Faces – Red Balloon
3. Visage – Fade To Grey
2. Booker T. & the M.G.’s – Green Onions
1. Van Morrison – Brown Eyed Girl

The ninth song on the list is True Colors from Cyndi Lauper from August 1986. It’s a fantastic song written by Tom Kelly and Billy Steinberg who were a very successful songwriter team before the ’90s. They wrote e.g. Like A Virgin for Madonna, I Drove All Night, Eternal Flame for The Bangles. Cyndi Lauper broke through 3 years before True Colors with Girls Just Want to Have Fun. Money Changes Everything is also a fun pop song of hers. True Colors was her last No. 1 on the US Billboard charts and then she disappeared. She did several come-backs though. One of her come-backs was with Kinky Boots, the musical which was a big success. True Colors was covered by Phil Collins in the ’90s. Sven says he read a story of Noel Gallagher who stated that their goal when they formed Oasis was to kick Phil Collins off the charts. Back to Cyndi, Per thinks she is a fantastic artist and has a very strong personality which can also be seen on stage.

Sven tells white is a color too and here comes one of Per’s bleached favourites. Next one is White Wedding from Billy Idol. Mr. G likes Billy Idol and thinks he released fantastic singles. He and his right hand, guitarist Steve Stevens looked out really cool. White Wedding was produced by Keith Forsey who started as a drummer. Drummers are very good producers, the guys say and mention Butch Vig as another example. White Wedding is on Billy’s first solo album from 1982, the year when GT released Sommartider. Sven thinks Sommartider was a bigger hit than White Wedding. Per agrees, but he still thinks WW is damn good. Sven has the feeling that the song was growing and growing and became a bigger hit later, not when it was first released. It came out as a single in autumn 1982, but didn’t chart on Billboard, which Sven can’t understand. Then it was released again in summer 1983 and peaked at No. 36 on the Billboard Hot 100. Dancing with Myself was the first single from the same album. That was a new recording of the old Generation X song. Billy Idol was in Generation X under the punk era in England, but then he moved to Los Angeles and started his solo career.

Song No. 7 is Paint It Black from The Rolling Stones from 1966. Per thinks it’s a magical song. It has a clash, being dangerous, but beautiful at the same time. The Rolling Stones was damn good in 1965-66. Per says he always thought PIB was recorded in England, but they recorded it in Los Angeles. Sven asks if Per realized that originally the song was released with the title Paint It, Black, with a comma. It disappeared later and Per thinks Mick Jagger wanted to add something intellectual. He couldn’t really find out why the comma was there. [The comma is said to be just a clerical error by Decca Records. /PP] PIB was released on the album Aftermath, which was the first LP of The Rolling Stones with songs written solely by Mick Jagger and Keith Richards. A year later came another album, Their Satanic Majesties Request, which is almost unlistenable according to Mr. G. They did fantastic singles though, e.g. Have You Seen Your Mother, Baby, Standing in the Shadow? which is phenomenal. It’s pop-psychedelia at its best. PIB is more than a classic pop song. Brian Jones plays the sitar in it and Per says The Rolling Stones was awesome when he was in the band. One could recognize it when it was Brian playing the instruments. Sven says Johnny Ramone was following Brian Jones and he even copied his hairdo.

Next is Golden Brown from The Stranglers. Their first album was Rattus Norvegicus. They came with the English new wave era in the end of the ’70s. Per doesn’t have a close relation to them, the only song he was listening to was Golden Brown from 1981. He liked the harpsichord sound in it. Their song Peaches was damn good too. Sven remembers when he was in London in 1977-78, it was there in all pubs on the jukebox. They even had a song about Sweden, Sweden (All Quiet on the Eastern Front) written by Hugh Cornwell. In Golden Brown one can hear The Doors influence. Per doesn’t really know what the song is about. Drugs or something else. Its best position on the charts was No. 2 in the UK. Well-deserved, Per says. The song has a lovely atmosphere, great production and it’s in fine 6/8 time signature. It’s a little odd for being a song from 1981. It certainly stood out on the radio when it was released.

No. 5 is Behind Blue Eyes from 1971 from The Who, one of Sven and Per’s common favourite band. Sven says earlier they had a program with nine best songs from 1971 and this song wasn’t on that list. Per says it could have been on that one too. It’s from The Who’s 5th album and for Per that’s the best The Who album of all. There is no bad track on it. Maybe you can skip John Entwistle’s My Wife. Pete Townshend peaks here and the whole band is in top shape. Sven also thinks they were one of the biggest bands in the world in the ’70s and this album was incredibly perfect. It was kind of a follow-up album to Tommy, instead of the rock opera, Lifehouse. Behind Blue Eyes is a wonderful ballad according to Per. Sven says it’s a ballad for appr. 2 minutes and 18 seconds, but then comes Keith Moon in and the band explodes. The power chords of Pete Townshend are awesome. Mr. G says he always thought The Who’s weakest link was Roger Daltrey’s singing, but he reconsidered it and now he thinks he is a fantastic singer. When he was listening to Pete Townshend’s demos he realized how much Roger Daltrey added to the songs. Also if you are watching their early live performances, you can see he is a great frontman.

Next song is Red Balloon from Small Faces. It came out in 1969 on The Autumn Stone double LP which Per had when he was a child. It was a cover of Tim Hardin’s song. Sven says there is more hippie feeling in it, but Per says one could sense it already in Tin Soldier or Lazy Sunday. It’s a typical Small Faces song, it has a fantastic soundscape. Tim Hardin was a great songwriter. He also wrote If I Were a Carpenter and Lady Came from Baltimore. Red Balloon was not a big song for Tim. Bobby Darin covered it too. It was one of Per’s favourite songs when he grew up and his records were his best friends. Sven asks if one can say it’s a cozy song. Per says not really if you know what the lyric is about. It’s about drugs. Sven laughs and says it’s a recurring theme, but they are picking songs about colors after all.

No. 3 is Fade To Grey from Visage from 1980. It was one of the first synthpop hits. It sounded modern. When you say synthpop, today people think of the digital world we live in and how you make music on laptops. It was actually the beginning of it all. Visage was a new wave band and they became linked to the New Romantic movement. Sven says regarding the genre, one can link to Bowie’s Berlin albums or maybe even Kraftwerk. Per adds Bowie’s Scary Monsters album too, which was released the same year as Fade To Grey. Steve Strange, who was the brain behind Visage appeared in the video to Bowie’s Ashes to Ashes. Steve Strange was a scene-maker what was hip in the ’70s in London. He had a club there, called Billy’s. Midge Ure, founding member of Visage, singer-songwriter was in another band too, Ultravox and they released their album Vienna the same year as Visage released FTG. Everyone in Visage wanted to do a different project, so no wonder the band broke up. The video to FTG was directed by Godley & Creme from the band 10cc.

No. 2 is Green Onions from Booker T. & the M.G.’s. It’s one of Sven’s favourite bands, he thinks they are super cool. GO was their break-through song in 1962. They became a houseband at Stax Records in Memphis and played on hundreds of recordings. They also did instrumental covers of The Beatles’ Abbey Road songs. Sven asks Per if he knows Hammond organ. He says he stumbled over it, but he is a keyboard guy. He tells Sven ”you know, I come from a band that plays Farfisa organ.” Sven says Hammond organs already existed in the ’30s. It was invented by Laurens Hammond and it has a fantastic sound. Jazz musician Jimmy Smith was a Hammond organist. Jon Lord from Deep Purple also played it even live on stage, Billy Preston too on The Rolling Stones tours. Mr. G says they should have a separate program about songs with Hammond organ. In Green Onions Booker T. Jones also plays Hammond organ and Steve Cropper plays the guitar. Booker T. & the M.G.’s was a band that consisted of both white and black members. Their name comes from the British car brand MG, however, their record label stated that it stood for Memphis Group.

No. 1 is Van Morrison’s Brown Eyed Girl. Whenever Per hears this song he becomes happy. Van Morrison was the singer of Them before, but this was released by him as a solo artist. BEG was released in 1967. It’s one of the most played songs on American radios of all time. Once when Sven was in Liverpool with a gang of Beatles fans, a friend of him from Malmö said he knew the guitarist in Frankie Goes to Hollywood, Brian Nash. He was also from Liverpool and he was there and showed them around. It was much fun. He talked a lot about his career in bands, playing at weddings and parties, as well as in cover bands. Sven asked which song is the most popular that people ask most often to be played and he said Brown Eyed Girl. And then they all started singing it there in Liverpool. It has a magnetic effect, Per says and he thinks it’s a song of timeless quality.

Grunden Media Podcast interview with Per Gessle

Carl-Magnus Eriksson and Jakob Olsson from Grunden Media Podcast interviewed Per Gessle the other day. You can listen to the podcast in Swedish HERE.

The guys ask Per to introduce himself to the listeners. He says he is a guy from Halmstad and is making music since he was a teen, so he has been making music for over 40 years now with Gyllene Tider, Roxette and as a solo artist.

To the question how his working week looks like he replies it’s a bit different now. There are no concerts, so he is writing a lot and there is a studio where he is trying out different ideas. He explains he usually tours in blocks, so when he is on tour, then he is free for a half year or a year maybe until there is a next tour and then he is writing a lot.

Carl-Magnus and Jakob ask Per about his latest single, Mamma / Pappa. Per says he was dealing with another project, he was writing in English, but then suddenly he realized that it’s Mother’s Day soon, so maybe he should write a song about a mom. It started a bit with his own mom, but it’s also about someone else. Most of his songs are starting with his own feelings, then his imagination soars and it becomes something different in the end. Anyway, he finished the song and recorded it with Helena Josefsson. He thought it became a good song and he also thought he would write one about a dad to have a balance. He thinks it became even better. Others also thought they were damn good songs, so he released them in 2 weeks digitally, then also on vinyl.

The guys ask Per if his parents were role models to him when he was young, in the heydays of Gyllene Tider. Mr. G says his father died in 1978 before Gyllene Tider broke through. His mother always supported and encouraged him. She was the one who bought Per’s first guitar. He tells they had a piano at home and both his sister and brother played the piano. His mom passed away in 2013.

Talking about his first guitar, the guys mention that they know it from Niklas Strömstedt’s Gessle enligt Gessle documentary that it was a Bjärton nylon-string guitar. Per confirms it and says it was nice and very expensive. There was another guitar at home, but it was hard to tune it properly and press down the strings. So he thinks his mom thought she should buy something which can be played properly. He still has that guitar in Halmstad and also plays it once in a while. It still sounds fantastic. Per tells he has guitars on display at Hotel Tylösand, but he also has some at home in Halmstad and in Stockholm. There are guitars in a warehouse too and those are used when he is on tour. His guitar technician takes care of them. He doesn’t like to sell guitars, he rather keeps them and buys new ones too.

They guys ask Per if he misses playing with Gyllene Tider. Per says last year they recorded an album in France and went on a big tour. It was nice. He likes playing with Gyllene Tider and anyway he likes playing in a band. In a gang that plays the same song at the same time. Haha. They guys say Anders Herrlin and Micke Syd are among the best musicians in Swedish pop history. Per says Micke is a super-duper drummer and Anders is a fantastic bassist, but when they play together, 1+1 makes 3 or even 4. They are super tight. Anders was there in the heydays of Roxette and also toured with them in the ’90s. He played the bass in a different style vs. when he plays with Micke.

Per says one of the rewards of his job – both writing and playing music – is that you touch so many people. Many say that they feel like the song is about them, they recognize themsleves in a lyric maybe. Mr. G thinks it’s fantastic. He remembers when he got his first fan mail in the ’70s, in 1976 or 1977. There was a radio program called Bandet går where you could send in recordings and Per sent in a song, Ser du alla människor, which was 6 minutes long. It was quite horrible he thinks, but they played it on the radio. Then he got a mail from a girl who thought the song was fantastic, she recognized herself in the text. Per was totally shocked that something he did himself could touch another person so much. After all these years, one could easily say and think that you can take it for granted, but it’s not like that. He thinks he stilll has that fan mail. He lived at his mom back then and he has boxes with a lot of stuff from those times.

Carl-Magnus says he was born in 1975. He asks Per what he was doing before 1975. Per says in his childhood he spent a lot of time on his own. His family moved several times, so probably that was a reason for that. Already at an early age he was intrested in pop music. He was collecting records and listened to all chart shows on the radio. He learned English via English music magazines he bought, e.g. Melody Maker, Record Mirror. He was handing out newspapers at the weekends and was selling Christmas magazines, he earned his money with that to be able to buy the records. He tried to buy a single each week. The guys ask him which was his first record. Per says his first LP was a The Kinks album, The Kink Kontroversy. He bought it from his brother who needed money for cigarette.

The guys ask how the idea of Flickorna på TV2 came to him. Mr. G says he wrote the song together with Mats Persson. He can’t really remember. There was TV2 and there were those nice girls. He wrote it for GT’s first LP on which all the lyrics are a bit odd, e.g. (Dansar inte lika bra som) Sjömän, Fån telefon, Ska vi älska, så ska vi älska till Buddy Holly. Flickorna på TV2 was a song they changed the whole composition to in the studio, so they got a kind of groove in the song that wasn’t there in the beginning. There are rehearsal studio demos of it before they found the real sound to it. The guys ask about this part of the intro: “Master 17223, take 8”. Per says it’s from a recording that went wrong. They were at EMI Studios in Stockholm where they were also working with English stuff, so this snippet was from another record. They found it cool and kept it.

About Hotel Tylösand Per says he had no experience in the hotel business, except for living in hotels, but he thought it would be stupid not to buy it since it was so close to his hometown. It’s very unique with its nice beach. They bought it in 1995, rebuilt it, but it’s not him who is managing the hotel. It’s 100 years old this year and there is a nice video about it on YouTube.

To the question what he thinks when he sees old videos of himself he replies it’s fun. His generation got to be part of a wonderful era in pop music. ‘60s, ‘70s, ‘80s, ‘90s, ‘00s was a golden era before everything became digitalized. The music industry became so big it also became a big business. It wasn’t like that when Per started. Back then, young people established record companies and dealt with exciting music, e.g. Stiff Records, Atlantic Records. When he thinks about the old video of himself in Måndagsbörsen in the ’80s, it was fun to be there.

The guys ask what he would be if not a musician. Per says he doesn’t really know. He ended up being a musician already at the age of 19-20. At high school he was at an architect office. He always liked architecture, so that could have been fun. Now he is just doodling in his notebooks when working in the studio. He is bad at constructing things.

The guys ask Per about The Beatles. He says The Beatles created everything they are doing now in different ways. Everything they did was new, how they were writing songs, producing and playing them, how they looked, their album covers. He never saw them perform live. They toured Sweden in the beginning of the ‘60s. But he saw Paul McCartney live of course.

About Ramones Per says the awesome thing about them is their lovely hybrid of punk and surf music. There is The Beach Boys style surf music that they played much faster in a way. It’s very simple pop music with a fantastic attitude and Per loves the whole Ramones concept including how they looked with the same hairdo and outfit. He also loves that era in pop music, the ‘70s. Before punk and new wave happened, everything felt so important in pop music and professional, then with the punk there was a revolution and anyone could start a band or play the bass or the guitar or sing. When they started with GT, they learned everything on the way. Progressive music in the ‘70s and ‘80s, Yes, Emerson, Lake & Palmer and Genesis had long songs, they were advanced and professional. The Ramones represented the opposite which Per liked a lot.

To the question how it was singing in Måndagsbörsen in 1981 Per replies he can barely remember, but it was fun. He remembers that Dag Vag had a hit song then, Pop opp i topp and they performed it together with Gyllene Tider. Thore Skogman joined them too. He then invited GT to his home somewhere near the Norwegian border and they had lunch there. Per says he was a very nice person.

The guys are talking about how it was working together with Nisse Hellberg. Mr. G says it was fun, he is a highly talented, great guy. It was an exciting cooperation. They did a soundtrack to Mats Olsson’s book, De ensamma pojkarna. They pretended to be a ‘60s band, The Lonely Boys.

Carl-Magnus and Jakob ask who Mr. G would work together with. He says it’s fun to work with other voices, because he often feels limited with his own voice. That’s how Roxette started. Marie could sing his songs much better than Per himself. He also works a lot with Helena Josefsson. If he can dream away, it would be cool to work together with Sia or Pink for example.

The guys ask if he misses Marie Fredriksson. Of course he misses her, she was one of his best friends for so many years. It’s terrible that she is not there anymore. It’s hard to accept and understand it. He thinks of her almost every day.

The guys are talking about the song Per released in February, Around The Corner and Carl-Magnus and Jakob are curious how it was to sing those lyrics. Per says when he wrote it, it wasn’t about Marie, however, when he finished it, he understood that it was in a way about Marie and about the feeling that you have to move on. He recorded a simple demo of it that felt so strong that he thought they should work on it a bit more. Helena came to the studio and was singing and then Per sent what they had done to Clarence and he added his keyboards to it. Then the song was produced and he released it. Per says he finished writing the song before he went to the studio. He is working quite fast so it took maybe an afternoon to write it. He always tries to catch the same temperature in the music and the text. When he writes the text, he likes it when it’s lying around for maybe a day or two before he gets back to it. Then he corrects it or changes things in it. When he is writing, things are just flowing out. When he is working on a song for too long, it means it’s not good.

Carl-Magnus and Jakob ask what Per’s favourite Marie Fredriksson song is. There are many, he says. She didn’t write so many songs, but they are very good ones. From her Swedish songs Per likes Den ständiga resan the most. It’s a fantastic song. From the Roxette songs she wrote, Watercolours In The Rain is fantastic. Per wrote the text to it, but Marie wrote the music.

Mr. G says it would be fun to make more soundtrack music. Making music to Small Apartments, a Jonas Åkerlund movie some years ago was an exciting project. It’s instrumental music, which is totally different to making songs with lyrics. Here the guys are talking about Uno Svenningsson and his son who makes ambient music. Per says he grew up in an era where real instruments were played, while today’s generation is different. But ambient music can also fit movies.

Regarding which song he is the most proud of, Mr. G says when he hears a song on the radio or in the department store, he thinks “shit, it’s a good song. Oh shit, it’s a Roxette song”. He thinks The Look became damn good, something you never heard before. Tycker om när du tar på mej has a very nice text. He likes the whole Mazarin album a lot, because that was the first time he worked together with Christoffer Lundquist in his studio and also the first time he worked with Helena Josefsson. The album became different vs. what he was doing before. He likes all the songs on it.

To the question which hairdo he thinks was his best over the times he replied he hopes the best is yet to come. Haha.

The guys ask Per what he is listening to on Spotify right now. He checks it while he is sitting in front of his computer. He is listening to songs people recommended to him, so now it’s old jazz, e.g. Art Pepper and old Van Morrison albums. He also likes The Chainsmokers as modern music, but he is listening to everything possible. He makes playlists. The more new music he listens to the more he feels eager to listen to old music. He usually finds something in new music he likes, but he thinks it was made more for him several years ago. If he is listening to Blinding Lights from The Weeknd for example, he thinks it sounds cool, but it also sounds like the ’80s, so he is eager to listen to some ’80s music after hearing it.

Regarding F1 and racing Per says he likes watching the race. Occasionally he is out on a racing track to drive and for that you need a standard driving license. He explains there is a bunch of technicians who tell you how to drive and what to do there. Every year he travels to see at least one F1 race live. It’s much fun. The guys tell they saw Per has many Ferraris. Per confirms and says it’s like with the guitars and laughs. He adds he likes the design of them. He doesn’t know the maximum speed of his cars, he never drives too fast.

To the question if he has ever thought about making a movie from his songs like Elton John or Queen did, he replied he thinks something like that is coming in the future. Maybe some kind of musical. It feels like a natural development of the hit catalogue he has. It would be fun and exciting, but it has to be good. It’s easier said than done. He thinks Bohemian Rhapsody is super good.

Carl-Magnus and Jakob ask what’s next. Per tells he plans to record more songs in autumn, so he is writing during summer. There is no tour booked. Of course he wants to tour, but he doesn’t know how and in what context.

The guys ask Per about Spännande ostar. It was Marie, Lasse Lindbom, Mats Persson and Per in 1983 or 1984 and they played acoustic songs.

Carl-Magnus and Jakob shoot some quick questions at the end of the interview.

  1. Vinyl or Spotify? Vinyl, because it smells good.
  2. Tour or studio? He loves both, so he can’t choose.
  3. Gyllene Tider or Sommartider? Gyllene Tider.
  4. Yellow Submarine or Come Together? Come Together.
  5. Min tjej och jag or Låt denna trumslagarpojke sjunga!? Min tjej och jag.
  6. Ferrari or black McLaren Senna? Ferrari.
  7. He can’t reply to the question what he would ask from Helena Josefsson, but tells he is to meet her next day.
Pic by Fredrik Etoall