From Dishwashing To Danish

Some time back, as a way to ease into a discussion of Hall & Oates, I wrote about my kitchen dancing:

“With the mp3 player plugged into the CD player atop a small cabinet, I shuffle and weave, play air piano and guitar, and I cue unseen drummers, violin players and horn sections. And I do all this while removing and shelving clean dishes from the dishwasher and then replacing them with the dishes yet to be washed.”

That hasn’t changed. But in the past few months, I’ve begun keeping a list of the songs the mp3 player shuffles out each afternoon and then using that list as a basis for a nearly daily post on Facebook. I list those five, six or seven tracks – the actual number is dependent on how much work there was to do in the kitchen – and then embed a video of one of them. Most of the time, I find a video of the last track in the sequence, but I sometimes highlight a more interesting or rare track.

I toss the post out to those in my Facebook community, and I generally get a few likes and sometimes a comment or two. One of the records that popped up as I did the dishes yesterday was “Rør Ved Mig” by the duo of Lecia & Lucienne. It’s a Danish version of Mocedades’ “Eres Tu,” and it was a hit in Denmark during the autumn of 1973, when “Eres Tu” was Spain’s entry in the annual Eurovision Song Contest. (Mocedades’ version went to No. 9 in the U.S. in March 1974.)

After I posted the note at Facebook, Dan from California chuckled and wrote, “I’m imagining those Danes belting out Eres Tu: Røøøøøøøøøør Ved Miiiiiiig! Tøø funny!” I replied, saying that was pretty much how the chorus went.

(I should note that “Rør Ved Mig” was the topic of a brief post early in this blog’s timeline and is a favorite of mine, as it’s one of the most potent records of my life, pulling me back, as I told Dan, “to city walls, red brick houses, cold Carlsberg and, well, a lot of fond memories.”)

Then, wanting Dan to hear the song, I wandered off to YouTube. Lecia & Lucienne were not there. That didn’t surprise me; I once uploaded a video of their record there and learned that licensing problems kept it from being available in the U.S. and some other places. But as I looked for “Rør Ved Mig,” I came across an acoustic version of the song by a performer named Nikolaj Nørlund.

It turns out that Norlund is a highly regarded Danish performer and producer with several solo albums and other recordings to his credit. One of those other recordings is the 2011 EP Kom Med Et Bud, which offered his acoustic covers of six songs that had been very popular in Denmark, including “Rør Ved Mig.” I recognized one other title, “Smilende Susie,” although I don’t think I heard the original record while I was in Denmark. And then I saw the title “Åh, Babe, Kom Med Et Bud.”

The letter Å/å is, obviously, one we don’t have in English. It’s pronounced “Oh,” with that long “O” sound that folks around here sometimes use when they say “Minne-soh-ta.” It was once written as Aa/aa, and that survives a fair amount in this part of the country in the last names of folks whose ancestors emigrated from the Nordic lands: One of the guys I went to college with had the last name of Sondergaard. He figured out in Denmark that the name likely started out as Søndergaard, which I think is an old form that translates into English as “southern farm.” (Corrections are always welcome.)

Anyway, when I saw and sounded out the title “Åh, Babe, Kom Med Et Bud,” the first two words came out “Oh Babe” and the next four words came out in a familiar cadence. I thought, “It can’t be.”

But it was. And just because I like this sort of thing when it pops up, here’s Nikolaj Nørlund’s Danish language version of Hurricane Smith’s “Oh Babe, What Would You Say.” (Nørlund, for whatever reason, pronounces “Åh” more like “Ah” than “Oh.” That may have something to do with the “h” being appended to the “Å.” I don’t know.)

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One Response to “From Dishwashing To Danish”

  1. Paco Malo says:

    The guitar intro on the YouTube version instantly reminded me of “Baby, Baby, It’s a Hard World” by Yusuf Islam (then known as Cat Stevens).

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