Vote for Roxette – Piece of Cake for Song of the Year 2020 on Musikplats!

Musikplats on Swedish Radio P4 Stockholm organized a voting for Song of the Year 2020. The jury for Song of the Week has voted and put together a list of 20 songs for the decision and now the power is in the listeners’ hands. Roxette’s Piece of Cake is also on the list, so hurry up! Click HERE and vote for it!

Voting runs until 11:00 CET, 18th December. Then 5 songs that enter the final are presented. After another listener voting (the counter is reset before this), the winner is published the same day at 11:50 CET. So don’t forget to vote on 18th December at 11:00 CET again!

Fingers crossed!

Top20 songs – pick your favourite HERE!

Vargas & Lagola – Always
Agnes – Fingers Crossed
Albin Lee Meldau – På Riktigt
Jakob Hellman – …Och Känner Mig Utanför
Victor Leksell – Svag
Dotter – Bulletproof
The Sounds – Things We Do For Love
Gustaf & Viktor Norén – Rise Again
Laleh – Det Kommer Bli Bra
Thomas Stenström – Ser Du Månen Där Du Är Ikväll?
Roxette – Piece Of Cake
Mando Diao – Själens Skrubbsår
Miriam Bryant – Nån Av Oss
Darin – En Säng Av Rosor
Sarah Klang – Canyon
Hurula – Tro På Er Ruin
Kygo & Avicii & Sandro Cavazza – Forever Yours (Avicii Tribute)
Miss Li – Komplicerad
Ana Diaz – Bästis
Håkan Hellström – Tillsammans I Mörker

Per Gessle on P4 Extra

Per Gessle was a guest on P4 Extra, Swedish Radio last Friday. Host Erik Blix asked him about his new solo album, Gyllene Tider, Marie Fredriksson, Roxette and his new project.

Erik asks Per what the album title, Gammal kärlek rostar aldrig means to him. Mr. G says it means to him more or less what it says. He realized that this album is an old love that’s still there. One can say it’s a pandemic album, because he started recording it while he was isolated in Halmstad. Erik says it’s Per and Paul McCartney (who did the same). Per laughs and says there are more who did the same. Per had the idea to record acoustic songs and play as many instruments as possible himself. He didn’t have any material for that, so he thought he should dig deep into his archives from the 80’s, 90’s and 2000’s. There are a lot of songs he thinks didn’t come out of their shadow before. He says it was exciting.

They play Ömhet here. Erik says Per sings together with Helena Josefsson. Mr. G tells Helena is fantastic and it would have been difficult to record this song without her. She is awesome. Ömhet was written right after Mazarin was recorded in 2002. The text remained the same, but he wrote new music to it for Gyllene Tider’s Dags att tänka på refrängen album, but they never recorded it. Then it was lying in the drawer until now. Erik asks how many songs Per has in the drawer. Per reacts: ”You don’t want to know!” And laughs. He himself doesn’t know it exactly either. There are tons of sketches. Before he starts a new project, he is listening to some of his old stuff to get inspiration. He has been writing songs for such a long time and he felt that slowly but surely his style is changing a bit. Erik asks if it can happen that a sketch matures, that earlier Per thought nah, it’s not good for anything, but now it seems to work. Mr. G says it can happen, for example that the text in a verse has a good idea, but it doesn’t reach the goal or you couldn’t make it in 1986, but maybe now you can get your teeth into it. On GKRA it happened that Per corrected verses he thought were clumsy. And there is also the fact that if you write a song when you are 25 and sing it when you are 61, it gets a different meaning. Erik asks if it was the case with Ömhet. PG says not really, because there the lyric is straightforward, but Tända en sticka till is a good example. It was released on Per’s first solo LP in 1983, he wrote it in 1982, so when he sings it today, there is a sentimental, nostalgic feel to it. It changes the text’s angle.

Per tells he works together with Helena since Mazarin. She came to sing backing vocals on 1 song and ended up singing on 10. He knew he wanted a female voice and they did a little audition at the studio in Skåne. Helena was the first he heard on the audition and he said he doesn’t want to listen to the others. She was the one he wanted.

Erik asks Per why he decided to make this album an acoustic one. Mr. G says he wanted to make it personal and organic and he wanted to play as many instrument as possible himself. There is mainly piano and acoustic guitar. He also tried playing bass and drums, but he realized his limits. Erik adds Paul McCartney plays all instruments himself. Per says he knows it. He is very curious about Paul’s new album. He is amazed that at his age, Paul is so sharp and he is doing this recording in his home studio alone.

Erik asks Per if he rewrote any of the lyrics for the album. Per tells he rewrote certain verses. There are songs in the drawer that have a text Per was not satisfied with, but now he has the capacity to make them relevant.

Mr. G tells now he is making an English album and he’s got a kick doing it. Erik asks when it will be released. Per says when it’s ready. They laugh. Erik says it sounds like a good startegy.

They play Du kommer så nära (du blir alldeles suddig) here. It’s a duet with Uno Svenningsson. Erik asks Per when he wrote this song and what it is about. He wrote it for En händig man in 2006. First it was mostly just an observation that sometimes things get so close that they get really blurred and you can’t really take it in. Per tells he didn’t know Uno too well. He called Per in summer and asked if they could meet and have dinner together. Per said sure, just he has to sing on one of his songs first. Then Per quickly changed the key in the song so that it suits Uno’s and Per’s voice. Mr. G thinks Uno is a lovely person and he has a fantastic voice.

Erik tells Per is more acoustic during these recent years and his music is softer. He asks if Per became softer over the years. Mr. G laughs and says he doesn’t know. It’s hard for him to answer this question because he thinks he is the same as he has always been. PG says he is lucky that he has a big tree with a lot of branches: Gyllene Tider, Roxette, solo in English and in Swedish, Mono Mind. Many different things. His classic singer songwriter side is reflected in this new album.

Erik asks Mr. G about Gyllene Tider and says he opened the door to a comeback. Per smiles and says: ”That I can never keep quiet…” They did their last tour last year, but who knows. There is nothing planned. He loves the guys in GT and he loves playing with them. When the five of them play together, the outcome is always something very special.

The guys start talking about Roxette. Erik asks Per to describe his friendship with Marie. Per says it’s hard to describe it shortly, but they got to know each other when they were teens, at the end of the 70’s. They shared a rehearsal studio in Sperlingsholm, outside Halmtad. Per was in Gyllene Tider and Marie was in Strul. So they have been friends since then. That friendship became a musical partnership in which they could develop their good sides. The basic idea with Roxette was that Per writes the songs and Marie sings. Marie could sing fantastically and Per could write OK songs. Sometimes it felt like 1 and 1 makes 3. Per says he is incredibly proud of the journey they were on together and feels honoured to have worked together with Marie over so many years. Erik tells Roxette started out as a game with a friend. Per tells they had the ambition and dream to succeed outside Sweden. They loved pop and rock music and they liked the same bands and artists, David Bowie, Joni Mitchell, The Beatles. When they were sitting and chatting in Per’s apartment in Halmstad, they were talking about Germany, Norway, Denmark or Belgium. To succeed in the US and play there and in South America and Roxette being global surpassed their dreams. They had their heydays between 1988 and 1995. Then Marie had her second child and wanted to have a break, so they had a break after the Crash! Boom! Bang! tour. During those 8 years they were together 24 hours a day and worked. Erik adds they travelled around the world, but probably didn’t see anything. Something like that, Per confirms. They were constantly travelling to another city, another country or were locked in their hotel rooms, spent their times at airports.

Erik asks Per how much he misses Marie. Per says it’s difficult to talk about it. It’s almost a year ago that she passed away. There is emptiness. When you lose someone very close or your family member, there is emptiness. It’s difficult to deal with it. Even in Marie’s case when they were kind of prepared, because she was sick for a long time. But still, when it happens, you know that you can’t get prepared for that. Erik asks if Per misses the partnership as well, to work together with someone the way they worked together. Mr. G says of course he misses it, however, the last albums they recorded in a different way than they recorded before Marie’s illness. It wasn’t such an intensive cooperation as during the years before her illness. But there is something special when you are working together with someone or with a band like GT. There are things that only they can share, something only Marie and Per could discuss, Roxette’s success, since it’s them who achieved it with a lot of people’s support around them. There was an enormous tightness between them, so of course he is missing it. He misses calling her and chat and fight and joke around. Erik asks if they did that often. Per says maybe not as often as they should have, but one thinks about it only now. After Marie got ill in 2002, she of course became much more private and he respected it.

Erik asks Per about his musical partnerships, how those work. Per says he is much of a lone wolf, mainly in the creative part of his work. He writes alone and he doesn’t take orders easily if someone wants to tell him how this or that should be. It’s hard for him to write music for someone else. It’s difficult to keep the balance. But then he of course needs other musicians and other singers and other producers who help him on the way.

As an end to the conversation, Erik asks Per to pick a Roxette song to play. Mr. G chooses Let Your Heart Dance With Me that was released recently. A leftover song from their last recordings. He says it’s so nice to hear Marie on it again.

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