“Køb bananer! Køb bananer! Køb bananer her hos mig.
Kom kun nærmer’, kære frue. De bli’r sgu ikke snydt af mig …”
What?! Why? I know. It feels odd to start my English written blog with a Danish quote. And not just any quote – this is from a very well-known Danish song written and performed by Kim Larsen back in 1979. As every one of my Danish readers will know ( at least if they are aged 35+ 🙂 )
But again, why is it my blog today?
Well, first of all I am a major fan of music:
… just to menition a few of my previous posts on music (see more at “music” in my topbar if you wish).
Secondly, I have been trapped in my home for 2½ month during the Corona-lockdown, and this has made me rediscover my collection of music … reaching more than 30 years back, including various artists, decades and genres. All with memories stuck to them. And I know from my feeds that I am not the only one.
Thirdly. the “Køb bananer”-song stuck to my brain this morning. Combined with a grey Saturday morning and the prospects of summer rain I decided to go down that memory lane.
Follow me – even if you are a non-Danish reader you will be able to translate this very Danish context to love of music in your own language. Because music has no borders. If you do not take my word for it, trust the staff at Ragnarock. Danish Museum for pop, rock and youth culture has regular visitors from all over the world, even though the cultural context of the museum is Danish. Their visitors are perfectly able to do a “cultural translation” to their own music and youth culture, the staff tells me.
This is literally a trip down memory lane. I wish to honour Kim Larsen.
Sadly, he died September 30th, 2018. Aged 72, after a lifetime of songs and music, which generations grew up with. During the 1970s as lead-singer in rockband Gasolin’ and the following decades as one of the bestselling solo-artist in Denmark.
The week after Kim Larsen’s death fans from all over the country took part in a march through Copenhagen where he was born and spent his youth/first part of his career. I was there, and I believe that this is as close as we ever get to a public memorial similar to the one in UK after the death of John Lennon in 1980.
Our trip starts at Christianshavn, Copenhagen, because this was also the place to kickstart the music in 1969. Gasolin’ made most of their music from Sofiegården in the early days. Today Sofiegården is a hall of residence, just around the corner of the photo. But this day it was simply impossible to get near the place … so many fans and friends of Kim Larsen has gone to the streets to pay the man their very last respect. The closest I could get was this; next to Beboerhuset which today offers a stage to upcoming artists, like Larsen and his friends more than 50 years ago.
Larsen’s earliest songs – especially the ones with Gasolin’ – used to be the soundtrack to social gatherings among my parents and their friends, hence also to my childhood 😀
His songs managed to create a bridge over the troubled water of the generation gap. Judging from the age distribution at the march that night they still do. This little girl was driven by her parents while she did the job of handing out home-printed leaflets with the lyrics of some of Larsen’s most popular songs – so we could all sing along while we walked. A sweet gesture, even though most people do not need the printed lyrics, they know all of them by heart!
Walking in memory usually includes torches of light – this beautiful Autumn night is no exception.
As darkness falls we light up and a living snake of light crosses its way through Christianshavn, crossing Langebro and ends up at Gammel- og Nytorv in central Copenhagen.
Here is a shot across the banks as we leave young Larsen’s homefield at Christianshavn behind.
Complete with community singing … something which we still like to do nowadays, when we cannot get out in large crowds. During the Corona-lockdown one of the most watched TV-programmes has been the sing-a-long with Philip Faber – also including a Larsen-song or two, since the songs has been accepted as a part of the Danish cultural canon for ages.
Larsen spent the last decades of his life living in Odense with his family. But even though it has been many years since he had his everyday life in Copenhagen our capital is still filled with memories contained in his songs. A great example is “Se din by fra tårnets top“. If you are a non-Danish speaker who would like to have a cultural-historic walkthrough Copenhagen, I suggest that you find the lyrics and translate. Not for the art of it (please, don’t!), but because you will get a full guided tour as you have never experienced it before.
The starting point of the lyrical tour is Vor Frelsers Kirke (Church of Our Saviour), famous for its spire with the external winding staircase.
After approximately 2,8 kilometre walk with a torch I entered the square, Gammel- og Nytorv as one of the first ones. Which turned out to be lucky. Rumours spread all over the city that a memorial of Kim Larsen, including music and talks from friends and colleagues, was to take place …
Thousands of people headed towards the square, and the police had to close the area for more people coming in. Just look at the tired face of this poor guard, controlling the crowds. Also notice the bus, which must be “out of service”. All because of one man’s death (Larsen’s wife stated that he would have hated all the commotion and shouted: “Stooooop! Drink a beer and love each other”. Which we did.
However, the tribute to Larsen did not stop that night.
In the following days people in Copenhagen lighted candles, laid flowers and beers to say goodbye to our hero. And also in Odense and other Larsen-related areas of Denmark. This is the square of Christianshavn. The flowers cover all the way from the entrance of the supermarket to the metro.
Notice the curious bunch of bananas among the flowers and beers. A greeting to the lyrics on the top of this blogpost.
(Actually, a steward in the metro the night of the memory march sung the song out loud … his way of dealing with a much too big crowd in and around the station 🙂 To everyone’s amusement).
By the way – all the flowers ended their days on the Cemetery for Homeless at Assistens Cemetery. And the staff handed out the beers to people passing by (mostly homeless) Christianshavns Torv on that particular Wednesday morning. Just as Larsen would have preferred it.
Before I end my tour in Danish music-memories I want you to take an (extra) look at Copenhagen’s most brilliant piece of painting these days.
The street artist Miki Pau Otkjær painted it on the hoarding around Christiania in Prinsessegade.
You can almost feel Kim Larsen smiling goodbye to all of us here …
My tour ends in my living room. Listening to old records … here is a few favorites from Larsen and co.
Usually I end my post with linking to more free fun. But this is difficult these days, since we are not allowed to get together in large crowds in public spaces.
So, I challenge you instead – go and find your own best music. Think about why this music is so special to you and create your own trip down memory lane to that one. It is great fun! And if you are not fed up with online meetings, get your friends online and share all your music memories with each other.
If you lack inspiration, check my list of absolutely no-go-songs during lockdown. As we slowly opens again, I hope you meet it with a smile 🙂
Now sun has finally reached my weekend. I wish you a happy one.
I’ll be back with more free fun when we are allowed to meet in crowds again 🙂