Straight to the heart

Emmylou Harris doesn’t care about labels too much. All she wants to do is sing, and tell stories with her songs. A lifetime of stories brought her the Polar Music Price in 2015.

You can’t tell stories without looking back, because without looking back, you can never tell which way the story goes. But in every story, if you do look back and look hard enough, you will find the point where it turns, and where the story begins.

For Emmylou Harris, that moment was when Chris Hillman saw her singing at a Washington, D.C. Coffeeshop, and suggested to former Byrds bandmate Gram Parsons that he check her out. Parsons was working on an album, and Hillman thought Harris would be an asset.

“When I got his call I didn’t know who he was. We met at the train station. I was playing Clyde’s that night. We worked up a few numbers between sets and sang them to this tiny crowd. Gram said it sounded good and he’d call me. I thought, ‘Oh, sure…’,” Harris has said.

She was on her way to the stars. The year was 1972.

emmylour-harris-600

Continue reading

Comedy masterclass

One of them compares the relationship to a perfect marriage. The other says they’ve never had a fight. Comedians Henrik Schyffert and Fredrik Lindström are in perfect sync.

The first thing you notice about Henrik Schyffert and Fredrik Lindström is that they are big. Big men, that is. Both are tall, and both have what people call “presence.” In short, you will not fail to notice them entering the room.

That’s a good thing when you’re an entertainer working a room, which is what the duo has done most recently, touring the past two years with their two-man show Ägd (“Owned”).

(Full disclosure: My son played a small part in the show between 2014 and 2016, and as his traveling companion I’ve seen the show dozens of times.)

Schyffert and Lindström take a bow with Son.

Continue reading

Outside looking in

Do you think you have to talk to somebody to really know them? To really understand them, I mean. Or do you think that you can know somebody just by watching them?

I remember reading about a study once. I’ve forgotten the details now, it’s been a while, and my memory’s not what it used to be although I seem to remember a lot of things from decades ago, from when I first moved here, for example.

Outside looking in.

Continue reading

Frölunda’s mission accomplished

SKELLEFTEÅ, Sweden – Sometimes things do work out as planned. In 2013, Frolunda Gothenburg hired a new coach and gave him free reins to develop a new generation of champions. The mission was accomplished on Sunday, when Frölunda beat Skellefteå AIK 5-3 in Game 5 to win the final series of the SHL 4-1.

Artturi Lehkonen scored the game’s first goal just 1:46 into the first period, and then added his eleventh of the playoffs with 5:54 remaining in the period giving Frölunda a 3-0 lead. Nicklas Lasu scored for Frölunda halfway through the period. Skellefteå AIK, playing in its sixth straight final, made a comeback attempt in the second period, but Frölunda could close out the game and take its fourth win.

“We found a way to win, even if things didn’t always go like we wanted. But when it mattered, we came through,” said team captain Joel Lundqvist, who was the only remaining player from Frölunda’s previous championship team.

Joel Lundqvist, team captain on CMore. Continue reading

Mother knows best

I suppose it’s possible that Pekka was trying to get me off my game with his question, although I doubt it. I think it was just something that occurred to him in the heat of the moment. He was never one to focus on football all that much.

Anyway, we were on our home field, on the small lot of grass between Pekka’s house and mine, and it was my turn to be the goalie. I had made a couple of saves and kicked the ball back to Pekka. He stopped it, put his foot on the ball, his hands on his hips, and asked me: “Hey, how old are your parents?

I didn’t say anything.

Pekka asked me again.

I said nothing. Pekka looked at me, and then – to be helpful, I guess – he said, “Mine are 35. Or, Mom’s 35, Dad’s a little older.”

aiti1 Continue reading

My friend K

The first time K and I became friends, I was 12 years old. He was thirteen, which made him the boss of me, because in that age, age is everything. I was also shorter, and a little skinnier, so even if I ever had decided to go against K’s ideas, he surely would have got me back in line, fast.

But there was never any need for that because we were the best of friends.

K.

Continue reading

Rökötys

Two weeks ago, I was on the ferry between Stockholm and Helsinki, listening to an interview on my headphones when suddenly I saw a man standing in front of me, pointing at me with his index finger. I took off my headphones just in time to hear him say, “Risto, right?”

It was Lare. I recognized him right away, which was pretty impressive, considering that I had only seen him once since we lost touch after fourth grade (mine, Lare’s third) and even that was more than twenty years ago.

But there we were, sitting at the table by the window, talking like that was all we ever did. We talked about his Dad (who was the first person I remember dying), about his 98-year-old grandfather who had lost his driver’s license and was wondering how he’d get to the summer cottage now, about my kids, his kids, our old hood, my work, and his work as a bodyguard at the finest and most legendary hotel in Helsinki.

“Some of the celebrities are really nice,” he told me. “Like Springsteen, he’s been there a couple of times. He’s a good guy … except that he gave me a T-shirt that was way too small so I had to go back and give him some feedback,” Lare said with a laugh.

“So, no rökötys for him,” I said.

Fake.

Continue reading

Summer in the city

One June morning in the 1970s, when I was on my way back from the park where I had gone to get some government sponsored soup, I spotted a familiar character walking towards me. I was glad that I noticed her first, because I was a little afraid of her. She walked around our neighbourhood almost every day, but it was much more fun to watch her from our kitchen window.

Every time Mom saw her, she let me know.

“Mrs. Sunshine’s out,” she’d yell, and I ran to the window to see what she was wearing that day.

Although, I wasn’t her clothes, really, that was the big deal. It was the fact that she was wearing so much makeup that it looked like she had painted two red balls on her cheeks. She also seemed to be wearing two wigs on top of each other. Anyway, seeing her made Mom happy so, in a way she was Mrs. Sunshine, even if the nickname probably wasn’t all praise to begin with.

ogeli

Continue reading

Please welcome the Birdz

“Well-Known Local Orchestra Available for New Year’s Eve due to cancellation.
Dial 5-1595 or 3-4454”
– Reading Eagle, Dec 6, 1952

I wouldn’t say there was panic in the air, but the guys were a little agitated. And understandably so. We had been looking forward to the New Year’s Eve gig for weeks and we had added two new songs onto our set list so that we could play for over an hour.

Please welcome the Birdz!

Continue reading