Saturday Singles Nos. 277 & 278

Some time back, while presenting one of the segments of my Ultimate Jukebox, I told the tale of spending a night in the small town of Kemi, Finland, and of the grand romantic gesture that arose from that visit.

One of the events in Kemi that I didn’t relate in that post took place the following morning. I referred to it in a March 2008 post that included the 1971 record, “Never Ending Song of Love” from the album Motel Shot by Delaney & Bonnie & Friends. I wrote:

During my European travels, I spent about ten days wandering through northern Scandinavia with an Australian fellow named John. We spent one night in Kemi, a small town in Finland. The next morning, we learned we’d forgotten about a time zone change and had missed the first train back to Sweden. We had a couple hours to kill, so we sat in a café near the railroad station, drinking coffee and listening to the jukebox. At one point, a record came on that sounded familiar, but it took me a moment to place it. I have never heard anything else in my life quite as strange as “Never Ending Song of Love” sung in Finnish.

Having remembered “Never Ending Song of Love” in Finnish, I made a few attempts in 2008 to find an mp3 of the record. Why? Because having heard it once in such memorable circumstances, I thought it would be fun to hear it again. Having no idea of the Finnish performer’s name or of the record’s Finnish title, the search essentially began with a barrier that could not be overcome. It was a Google here and a Google there, and eventually I gave up.

Then, this week, I decided to post the track “Lonesome and a Long Way From Home,” also from Motel Shot, to accompany the story of Gig Young/Byron Barr and the long-delayed letter jacket. So I began poking around the Intertubes to find out if anyone had a video of the tune already out there, which would save me a little bit of time. And one of my searches along the way pointed me toward a post at a blog titled Finnpicks that mentioned both “Delaney & Bonnie” and “Finnish lyrics.”

Intrigued, I clicked on the link, and found a brief account of Finnish singer Lea Laven and her recording that put Finnish lyrics to Delaney Bramlett’s tune for “Never Ending Song of Love.” The resulting track, said the post, was titled “Mun On Niin Niin Hyvä Olla” (which translates, says the writer of Finnpicks, to “I Feel So Fine”) and was placed on the B-side of Laven’s 1973 single “On Ja Ei.” I clicked the player at the blog site, and this is what I heard:

Just to refresh your memory, here’s Delaney & Bonnie & Friends and their record, “Never Ending Song of Love,” which went to No. 13 in the U.S. in mid-1971.

Now, nearly thirty-eight years removed from one hearing, I couldn’t testify in court that the record I heard in the café in Kemi was Lea Laven’s. But how many Finnish records during the 1973-74 academic year could there have been that used Delaney Bramlett’s melody? I’m reasonably sure that it was Laven’s record that John and I heard as we sipped incredibly strong coffee and ate fresh doughnuts.

And because I like foreign language versions of records I know – and I especially like those that remind me of the distant places I’ve been fortunate enough to visit – both “Mun On Niin Niin Hyvä Olla” by Lea Laven and “Never Ending Song of Love” by Delaney & Bonnie & Friends are today’s Saturday Singles.

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One Response to “Saturday Singles Nos. 277 & 278”

  1. jb says:

    Awesomely weird/quite delightful. Pass the akavit.

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