Per Gessle – Gessles nio i topp – Midsummer special

The fourth season of Gessles nio i topp kicked off with a midsummer special including the best songs about sun and rain. Per and Sven of course didn’t know whether it will be sunny or raining today in Sweden when they recorded this midsummer episode, so they decided to include sunny and rainy songs as well. Per explains it can’t be fifty-fifty, because they have 9 songs on each list. Sven laughs and says Maths was not his strongest subject at school and asks Per what his favourite subject was. Mr. G says it was drawing and Swedish, but then in the first year at high school he surprised himself with being good at Maths.

Per’s Top 9 sun & rain songs

9. Gerry & The Pacemakers – Don’t Let the Sun Catch You Crying
8. The Lovin’ Spoonful – Rain On The Roof
7. Sheryl Crow – Soak Up The Sun
6. Tages – Every Raindrop Means A Lot
5. The Beatles – Sun King
4. Garbage – Only Happy When It Rains
3. Traffic – Paper Sun
2. Tony Joe White – Rainy Night In Georgia
1. The 5 th Dimension – Aquarius / Let the Sunshine In

Per thinks Gerry & The Pacemakers are damn good and they had the same manager as The Beatles had, namely, Brian Epstein. Gerry Marsden, the singer in the group was also a songwriter and in the pop world it wasn’t very common back then that a band wrote their own songs. John and Paul did of course. Per thinks maybe Brian Epstein encouraged his bands to write their own songs. Sven says Gerry & The Pacemakers stayed in The Beatles’ huge shadow, however, they had some real hits. Don’t Let the Sun Catch You Crying is one of them from 1964. It peaked at No. 4 in the US. According to Per, it’s an awesome, heartfelt song.

Mr. G thinks it’s easier to come up with rain songs, he doesn’t really know why. He thinks it’s hard to come up with real beautiful songs about the sun and sunshine. It can be because the best pop music is a bit melancholic. It’s harder to write happy songs than sad songs.

The Lovin’ Spoonful is a lovely band from the 60’s and they were big in Sweden. Per always liked their song, Rain On The Roof from 1966. Mr. G thinks it has a very beautiful melody and is a typical John Sebastian composition. Sven says it’s from their ”Hums of the Lovin’ Spoonful” album and asks Per if he has this record. Per replies he doesn’t have it, but his brother had their ”Do You Believe in Magic” album. Sven highlights a couple of songs from the HOTLS album, ”Summer in the City”, ”Nashville Cats” and when he mentions ”Darlin’ Companion”, Per starts singing it. Mr. G tells a story when he and Anders Herrlin were in Los Angeles in autumn of 1981 and they ended up at an Improv stand-up comedy event where John Sebastian also played an acoustic set that night. His brother, Mark Sebastian was also in John’s band. They wrote ”Summer in the City” together, so Per was a bit starstruck by meeting Mark as well. The guys told they go to New York after Los Angeles and Mr. Sebastian invited them to visit him in Woodstock. Per tells they of course couldn’t say no to that and travelled to Woodstock and actually, lived at the Sebastian family for a couple of days. Per says it was very nice. John didn’t drink alcohol at all, but he was smoking a lot of grass. Haha. Per tells John has always been a sympathetic guy. His wife is a photographer, called Catherine. Sven says in John’s songs there is warmth and Per says John is coming from a jugband and folk music tradition, so his songs are very much melody-based.

After the song Per states 1966 was a great pop year. Sven asks what he thinks about 2002 then. Mr. G starts thinking what he was doing in that year. They already finished their Room Service tour and recorded songs for their ”Pop Hits” and ”Ballad Hits” compilations. Sven says Sheryl Crow’s Soak Up The Sun, the 7th on Per’s midsummer list is from that year too. Mr. G says he picked this song because you can’t really hear it anymore. He likes Sheryl and thinks she has a nice voice. The guys agree on the fact that she is very talented, she can sing phenomenally and even plays the bass, she is cool on stage and she is a bit of rock, pop and country, but somehow she hasn’t become a high profile artist.

The next song is the only one on the list by a Swedish band, Tages. If Per has to think of the Swedish music scene in the 60’s, there is this band that is better than the others. They were from Gothenburg. Per has 2 favourite songs from them, ”Fantasy Island” and Every Raindrop Means A Lot. The latter one is from 1967 and Per had it as a single. Tommy Blom sings the verses and Göran Lagerberg sings the choruses on it. It’s a little Beatles-inspired song. In 1964 the band won a pop contest, Västkustens Beatles, as Sven informs. Their producer was Anders “Henkan” Henriksson who was very good and ahead of his time, Per thinks. Their first single was ”Sleep Little Girl” in 1964. Sven tells the second week it was on the charts it beat a Beatles single in autumn 1964. Sven asks Per which Beatles single he thinks it was. Mr. G’s first guess is ”A Hard Day’s Night”. Sven says it’s very close, but it wasn’t that, so Per says ”I Should Have Known Better”. Bingo. Per says he was only 5 then, so Sven says it’s forgivable that he didn’t know it at first. Haha.

The next song could have been ”Here Comes The Sun” by The Beatles, which is the band’s most played song on Spotify, but since they haven’t played Sun King on this program yet, Per picked that one after Sven’s propaganda for this song. Both songs are on the same album, ”Abbey Road”. Per says he always thought the best in ”Sun King” was that ”Mean Mr. Mustard” came after it on the album. Haha. Sven thinks it’s John Lennon’s most fuzzy and dreamy and slowest song. You can also learn a little Spanish, Italian or Portuguese when listening to it. Paul knew a few Spanish words from school and they just inserted them, as well as paparazzi and obrigado.

The guys jump to the 90’s then and Per picks Only Happy When It Rains from Garbage. He thinks Garbage’s first album was awesome. ”Stupid Girl” from that record was also damn good. Butch Vig, drummer in Garbage was also co-producer of the band and he also produced Nirvana’s ”Nevermind” album. Per says he liked Nirvana’s singles, because they were very good pop songs, but he also thinks grunge is cool. Per likes Divinyls, an Australian rock band and compares Garbage to them. They have strong women as front figure singers in both bands. They are a bit like Blondie with Debbie Harry. Per thinks the lyrics of ”Only Happy When It Rains” are a bit depressive, but Sven thinks it’s a bit like a parody of depressive grunge songs’ lyrics. It was released in 1995 and Sven asks Per what he was doing that year. Mr. G says they released their compilation album, ”Don’t Bore Us – Get To The Chorus!” and they also went to Abbey Road Studios and recorded some songs with Roxette. A day before that they played a promo gig at Shepherd’s Bush in London for the compilation album. There was also a little Gyllene Tider comeback that year, a gig at Stora Torg in Halmstad.

The next song on the list is Traffic’s Paper Sun, the debut single of the band. Per says he liked Traffic’s singles. ”Paper Sun” flopped in Sweden, but Mr. G had the single at home anyway. Their next single, ”Hole In My Shoe” was a hit though. Steve Winwood left The Spencer Davis Group in April 1967 and formed Traffic together with Chris Wood and Jim Capaldi and released their first single in May 1967. Per likes the guitar hook in ”Paper Sun”.

Tony Joe White’s Rainy Night In Georgia is next. Sven says Tony Joe started writing his own songs in the middle of the 60’s after he heard ”Ode To Billie Joe” and recognized himself in the lyrics. He then decided to write a song that he can relate to and that became ”Polk Salad Annie”. ”Rainy Night In Georgia” was covered by many artists, Ray Charles among them, but the first hit version was made by Brook Benton in 1970. It’s a blues, soul, rock hybrid. It’s the No. 1 song in rain category, Per says.

Sven mentions Per wrote some rain songs too and asks which are Mr. G’s Top3 favourite rain songs he himself wrote. Per replies it’s ”The Rain” from ”Tourism”, ”Smakar på ett regn” from ”Mazarin” and then Sven suggests ”Queen of Rain” also from ”Tourism”. Per laughs and says he likes his own songs if he can say so. Sven notes Mr. G wrote more songs about rain than about sun. Per confirms and says it’s easier to write about rain than sun.

As No. 1 on the midsummer list, Per picked the medley of The 5 th Dimension, Aquarius / Let the Sunshine In from Hair, the musical. This medley is middle of the road pop with a little soul in it and even if The 5 th Dimension was quite big, they were still an anonymous band. The medley is damn good.

 

Marie Fredriksson tribute on Nordic Rox #3

A few days ago there was the 3rd episode of the Marie tribute program on Nordic Rox, Sirius XM.

Before the guys are talking about 2 classic Roxette hits, Sven plays the first track from Bag of Trix, the upcoming archives collection of unreleased recordings by Roxette. The acoustic cover of The Beatles classic, Help! was recorded at Abbey Road Studios in 1995.

Then comes a discussion about a song from 1988, from Look Sharp! album. Per says he picked this song, because for him it sums up where Roxette was standing at the time productionwise. This is a very sparse production. Clarence is just an amazing producer and he relied on and had so much belief in Marie’s vocals, so he just scrapped everything and let Marie sing. This has got a great groove to it, a great guitar hook by Jonas Isacsson and it’s just about Marie’s voice. The demo Per is singing sounds crap, but when Marie delivers the song is just amazing. It’s Sleeping Single.

Per says when they were recording Look Sharp! they felt they were doing something very different. They had great songs and every song they recorded sounded better than the other one. Paint, Dangerous, Dressed For Success, The Look, Listen To Your Heart. Every song was so cool. They went to England to record 3 songs with a different producer which they didn’t like that much, but they wound up on the album anyway. Mr. G is very grateful to Clarence, because he trusted Per’s songs and he really trusted Marie’s voice, so he just focused on making the songs as good as possible.

Sven asks Per if Sleeping Single was an obvious single candidate. Mr. G says all songs on Look Sharp! were created to become singles. Eventually, they released 4 songs off the album and Sleeping Single wasn’t one of them, because they had The Look, Dressed For Success, Dangerous and Listen To Your Heart. Sven laughs and says ”heavy competition”. Paint was a huge song in South America. It wasn’t released as a single, but got heavy airplay as an album track, so it became a big song for Roxette. Dance Away was a big song for them live. Per could have also picked that one for the program, because Marie sings so beautifully in that one as well.

In Sleeping Single they used saxophone which they never did before. It sounded really cool. Saxophone and shoulder pads. Where did the 80’s go…, Per asks.

The third song they play is from Room Service. Per thinks it’s a good album, different from the other albums. It was the last album they recorded before Marie got ill, so it also has a very special place in Mr. G’s heart. It’s got a great sound, it’s not a heavy album at all. There aren’t big ballads on it. When they do the ballads they try to keep the production low. The song Per picked is My World, My Love, My Life, the closing track of the album. Mr. G loves the guitar riff that Jonas is playing and of course loves Marie’s voice on this one. It’s a typical Roxette song, but at the same time it’s not. He thought it was maybe the best song on the album when they recorded it. It’s a great track and Marie is just shining on this one.

Sven thinks Marie sings equally as good on Room Service as she did on the bigger Roxette albums 10 years earlier. Per agrees and says if you listen to the live recordings from the Room Service tour, you can hear she was singing so well. Maybe also because of her experience as they were in their 12th year of being international artists, so of course they learned a trick or two.

Stills are from this video.

Thanx for the technical support to János Tóth.

Per Gessle – Gessles nio i topp is back!

Last time we could hear Per Gessle and Sven Lindström in Gessles nio i topp on Swedish Radio was 1st September 2019. Good news is that they are back very soon! The first episode out of 10 of the upcoming podcast series will be broadcast on 20th June! All new episodes will be on air at 22:05 CET each Saturday and there will also be a midsummer special at 15:03 CET on 20th June. The podcast will also be available for download.

On June 13th the radio will repeat an earlier episode, from 25th December 2017.

Dates known so far:

Don’t forget to tune in on Swedish Radio P4 this Saturday, 13th June at 22:05!

Pic of Per and Sven is taken from Roxette’s Instagram.

Per Gessle interview on P4 Extra on Mother’s Day

Titti Schultz did an interview with Per Gessle today on P4 Extra on Swedish Radio. It starts at 1:42:42. After Titti welcomes Per, he says it’s an adorable weekend and the weather is fantastic on the Best Coast (West Coast). He is in Halmstad during corona time, because he lives there. He laughs. He has been home since Easter. Titti asks Per if he is thinking about corona or if everything is as usual. Mr. G says his life hasn’t changed a lot, because he most of the time works alone or only with a very few people. So it’s rather business as usual for him, but he has been very productive during this period. He wrote a lot of English songs and in between, Mamma and Pappa poppud up on a sunny Tuesday morning. He was dealing with a totally different type of music and then suddenly an idea came to his mind that shit, it’s mother’s day soon, so why not writing a song about a mom. It went quite easily and then he thought he should write a song about a dad, too. It was much harder. He laughs. He booked the studio, he worked there for 2 afternoons and then came Helena Josefsson to sing and then it was ready. It happened only in 2 weeks and it never went this fast before.

Titti says she knows Per’s mom is not among us anymore and asked Per if he celebrates her mom on a day like this. He said it doesn’t happen like this directly. Now there is another mom in his family, his wife, so it became rather her day. Per says when you are young, you don’t care too much about Mother’s Day, but by getting older, you think more about how it is to be parents and that kids are growing up. He thinks it’s a nice day. Tradition in their family is to give flowers and cake.

Titti asks Per if he thinks Mother’s Day has more meaning now for other families during corona time. Per thinks it could be. He thinks it’s a very special period we are going through now. It’s something we haven’t experienced before. When there is uncertainty, family and friends are more in focus and you realize that you can’t take any basic things for granted.

Per says he read that there were a lot of weddings cancelled. During this time people either still get married after the social distancing period or they get divorced. Titti says there can be a baby boom too.

Titti gets back to the songs and asks Per about the English songs he has been writing when Mamma and Pappa popped up. Mr. G tells he has Mono Mind, an electronic pop music project, but he was also writing guitar-based classic pop music. He doesn’t know yet what the future brings, but he wants to continue touring and play and make himself heard in a way. What he is writing now is based on the music he grew up with, the 60’s and 70’s (as usual) mixed with modern music. He can’t say anything about when this music will be out, but maybe next Mother’s Day. He laughs.

Titti asks if Per wants to say anything before she pushes the play button for Mamma. Per says just sit calmly and listen to the lovely lyrics and

Mom is the best!

Interview with Helena von Zweigbergk – “I’ve never met anyone who has had the strength of Marie Fredriksson”

24.hu in Hungary did an e-mail interview with Helena von Zweigbergk in connection with the Hungarian edition of Marie Fredriksson’s biography (Listen To My Heart – Hallgass a szívemre) and published it yesterday, on Marie’s birthday.

The interview has a nice intro. Referring to the book, it says that the positive attitude to life and the spiritual power shines through the biography. By reading it, we can understand how Marie was able to defeat cancer and win almost two decades so she could see her children grow up and even be on stage again, even though years ago it seemed utterly unlikely.

Journalist Bence Inkei’s first question to Helena is if she stayed in touch with Maire after finishing the book in 2015. Helena says she visited Marie many times in her home. They had coffee and ate her favourite cinnamon rolls while they were talking and laughing a lot. And of course they were crying too. They became very good friends while they were working on the book. Afterwards, unfortunately, they couldn’t meet as often as they would have liked, as Helena had to work and Marie lived far away from her. But they stayed in a very good relationship.

According to 24.hu, the end of the book seemed pretty optimistic: it was spring, Marie was preparing for Roxette’s summer tour, but from the epilogue it turns out that the band stopped touring not long after, because of Marie’s condition. They ask Helena if it was unexpected that Marie’s condition got worse. Helena doesn’t really know. She says that for Marie, touring was a huge effort already back then. All the stress, the tight tour schedule, the travelling would have worn out anyone who was in a condition like her. She had constant problems with her legs, she could only perform while sitting. Everyone knew how hard it was. She loved her fans and being on stage, but it was too exhausting for her by then.

24.hu is curious about how Marie spent her life after publishing the book. Helena tells she spent it at rest. She loved being at home and living by her own rules. So whenever she could, she was at home. She loved her garden and spending her time with her family. She could hardly walk and that caused her a lot of sadness. On the other hand, it was a relief that she was no longer under any pressure.

To the question if Marie had any unfinished plans Helena replies that Marie was a very creative person who could express herself in many ways. She talked about writing a book of poems and writing even more new music. She also wanted to write something about her mother’s life, to express her love for her and tell her story.

24.hu asks if Marie’s traumatic childhood due to the tragedy that happened in her family helped her to fight against cancer for so long. According to Helena it probably helped. She has never met anyone who has had the strength of Marie. She seemed very shy in a way, but she was as stubborn as a mule and had the power of a tiger. Neither as a child nor as an adult was she pampered. She always knew she had to fight for what she wanted to achieve.

Based on the book, it’s not entirely clear for 24.hu whether Per and Marie were real friends or just co-workers. Helena thinks they were good friends. They made this incredible journey together and had known each other for a very long time. As Helena saw it, their relationship was pretty close, but it’s also true that outside of working together, they didn’t meet too often. They lived far away from each other and Marie had to live a very calm life to be able to go on tour and get enough rest.

One of the most shocking part of the book for Bence Inkei was that a tabloid provided false info about Marie’s condition, but they could get out of it without any consequences. Helena confirms that there were no legal consequences. Marie might have been able to get them punished, but then they would have had to go through that hell again and that would have occupied their thoughts. That would have placed a heavy burden on the family when they were going through a difficult period anyway.

24.hu asks if it is a coincidence that ABBA appears only once in the book. If there was any rivalry between Roxette and them. Helena doesn’t think so. They were popular in different times and in different styles. They respected each other.

According to 24.hu, Roxette still has a very strong and active fan base in Hungary. They ask Helena where she sees the band has the most fans. Helena many times wondered how much love Marie and Roxette had received from all over the world. For example, when Helena and Marie had a book signing session together in a store in Stockholm, a South African family was the first in line. They travelled just to meet Marie and ask her for an autograph. Helena knows Roxette has a big fan base in South America and of course in Hungary too.

Marie described herself as a kind of “rock and roll personality”. As a last question, 24.hu asks how Helena saw it. Helena tells Marie loved this attitude. She didn’t want to look kind and harmless. She loved wearing black leather stuff and partied a lot before her illness in real rock and roll style. There was some kind of raw power in her voice through which she could express her true self.

You can order the Hungarian edition of Marie’s biography HERE.