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The latest issue of my Swedish-language fanzine "I stället för papper" contained an article and discography about Swedish sf fan, publisher, author, translator et c Sam J. Lundwall. I think some of you filkers would appreciate it too, so here's a translation to English.


Sam J. Lundwall is without a doubt one of the most influential people within the Swedish science fiction movement; the only two that can be compared are Lars-Olov Strandberg and John-Henri Holmberg. His interest and passion for science fiction also showed in his short musical career.

My research is in no way compleat, but I have managed to find 22 of his published songs, either in the form of lyrics and notation or in some form of recording, and one more song in a fragmentary recording. Eight other published songs are unknown to me, apart from the title. Apart from these 31 songs, Lundwall also translated the Greek song Syrtaki to Swedish, which was recorded by amongst others Anni-Frid Lyngstad. In total he published the LP record Visor i vår tid (1966), the EP record King Kong Blues (1974), two singles, and last there are some songs that were only published in recordings by other artists or on compilation albums. Thanks to the Gothenburg University Library I managed to get access to the text- and notation booklet for Visor i vår tid, and I earlier had access to the songs from King Kong Blues.

Some of the songs are of special interest because they have fantasy or science fiction themes, connect with fandom in some way, or feel like they fit into a fannish environment.

Lundwall's strength as an artist lies, based on the limited amount that I have heard, unsurprisingly in the lyrical content. Amongst the melodies that he wrote himself, I can only see myself working on two: "Möte i rymden" and "Födelsedagsfesten".

Did Lundwall write filk?

The question if a song is filk or not can be complex, since filk is not defined so much by its content or form as by the context in which it is written and performed. The form and content matters, but is to me secondary to the relation that the writer has to filk and science fiction fandom, and if the song is performed in fannish circles. It is irrelevant if the song is an original or a parody song. Lundwall is without a doubt a part of the musical tradition of Swedish fandom, even if it did not receive the label filk until sometime circa 1980.

For me personally this means that even if Lundwall maybe not was a filker, a large part of his production is filk: they fit extremely well into a filk circle or as entertainment among fans, and they have been performed at conventions and other fannish and fan-similar events, both by Lundwall and others. Lundwall's songs are also interesting because their content has more in common with American filk than with Swedish filk. Swedish filk is notable for its focus on fandom itself and by having a humorous or absurdistic approach. Lundwall, on the other hand, made entirely serious science fiction stories and scenes, and even when he has a humoristic songs, fandom is entirely missing.

At the same time, Lundwall's has without a doubt a Swedish approach; I have never seen or heard any international filk songs with a similar approach as "Visa till mor" or "Monstret från planeten Mars". "Möte i rymden", on the other hand, fits very well into the tradition of tall space tales like "Banned from Argo" or "Not All Who Wander Are Lost in Space". But Lundwall's serious science fiction songs were made in the middle of the 60's—something similar did not appear in American filk until the mid-70's, according to Gary McGath's Tomorrow's Songs Today. Even more interesting is that Lundwall published his science fiction songs on record ten years before Leslie Fish published Folk Songs For Folk Who Ain't Even Been Yet, the LP which is usually seen as the first filk album.

Taken together, Lundwall's songs give a rather eclectic impression, just like his books. Here you can find pastiches, frivolities, vulgarity, human compassion, cynicism, and societal critique all mixed together. Below I present those of his songs that I deem interesting from a fannish horizon.


Visa till mor (Song to mother)

The protagonist of the song tells about being born in a procreation factory and raised by a robotic mother, which now is been scrapped. The song makes it clear that the robot did a good job as mother, and is deeply missed. It also describes their relation and some events during childhood. Thematically the song gives a somewhat strange impression with a mix of technical optimism and melancholy. It is a pity that the style feels rather dated both melodically and lyrically.

Swedish artist Bertil Danielsson later sang in another song by Lundwall, titled "Brevet från mor" (The letter from mother). I am quite curious if that song has any connection with "Visa till mor".

Monstret från planeten Mars (The monster from the planet Mars)

"Monstret från planeten Mars" contains more layers than "Visa till mor", despite the title, but at the same time it does less with its science fiction content. A monster from Mars arrives on Earth to spread death and destruction, but its ship crash lands and the monster is captured in a slave contract with Hollywood, where it has to act as a monster in comedies and horror movies, and otherwise is captive in a cage. The monster draws the conclusion that it is the humans who are the real monsters. The song is an early example on how Lundwall used science fiction to make social commentary and critique.

Möte i rymden (Encounter in space)

A clear pastiche of Evert Taube's "Möte i monsunen", a classic Swedish song of sailing ships, and the influences are apparent in both melody and lyrics. Fritiof Andersson of the original song is exchanged for Oskar Fikonström, who tells of his adventures and misadventures as a spaceman, with plenty of strange happenings and creatures. In contrast to the two earlier songs, it is purely humouristic in its approach.

Club Cosmos of Gothenburg has made available a video recording where Lars-Göran Johansson performs "Möte i rymden" at their mini-con Konfink 2012. Text and notation is also available in "60 visor från 60-talet", selected by Sid Jansson (Bonnier 1976).

I do not know if any of the songs above was among the "four futuristic songs, written and composed by Sam Lundwall" that were played at the con "Upsala SF-möte" in 1963, but I would not be surprised if that was the case. It gives a not surprising indication that Lundwall wrote songs with science fiction themes that were never published.

Tre små munkar (Three little monks)

A merry song about three monks walking through the town an early morning, with a clear twist. The song does not contain any science fiction, but would fit very well into fantasy by form and content. It would do very well at a LARP or in a filk circle.

Arvid från kåken (Arvid from jail)

Tells the story of the alcoholic Arvid, who met a widow who managed to make him sober. However, his body's constitution was such that he could not survive without alcohol, and the died in the queue to the liquor store before he could get anything to drink.

Den kärleksfulle gorillan (The loving gorilla)

The one of Lundwall's songs that has aged the least gracefully, amongst the one that I know. Tells the story of a gorilla who escapes from zoo, takes the train southwards, and rapes a woman in the train restroom, told as a big joke.

It is the only one of Lundwall's songs where he made both lyrics and melody where I have access to a full recording made by Lundwall. There are several versions available on Youtube, but by other artists.

Häxan (The witch)

The song describes the burning of a witch, where the priest turns out to be the devil, with goat's feet and a mad laughter. After the burning the townspeople are led out from the town, dancing after the priest. Thus the song connects both with the Pied Piper of Hamelin and the Swedish tale of Hårga in a way that feels very typical for Lundwall. Of note is that Swedish artist Ewert Ljusberg has made a recording of the song, but I have never heard it. The song has also been translated to and recorded in Finnish, as "Noita" by Marjatta Leppänen. This version is available on Spotify. According to Finnish fan Jukka Särkijärvi is the Finnish text almost too faithful to the Swedish original, "because there are some pretty tortured long vowels".

Födelsedagsfesten (The birthday party)

"Födelsedagsfesten" is in my view the best of Lundwall's songs, though it might also be because it is the only one of his that I have heard recorded by really good musicians and singers. As far as I have found out, Lundwall never did his own recording of the song, but all recordings are by other musicians. The recording by Triakel is available on both Youtube and Spotify and is well worth a listen, but there are several more available recordings. Triakel also commissioned a translation to English, fully singable as far as I can tell.

The song describes a birthday party that goes out of hand due to the hard drinking; it turns into a knife fight, the farmer turning 50 is stabbed to death, and his wife is thrown into the well before a smashed lamp sets the house ablaze. Everything is told to a merry melody and in drastic turns, and it is easy to understand how the song became popular in Swedish LARP circles. There the song has received some lyrical adjustments and in one case a wholly new set of lyrics.

King Kong Blues

A collection of six songs on the EP record King Kong Blues, that were published together with the first Swedish edition of Lundwall's book with the same name (1974). The book was also translated and published, sans record, into English as 2018 A.D. or the King Kong Blues (DAW 1975). Melodies, arrangement, and music was here done by Michael B. Tretow, so they have a wholly different musical character than Lundwall's earlier work. Lundwall's contributions are the lyrics and the song, where he is more spoken word, and the songs also differs from his earlier works in that the voice does not carry the melody.

None of the songs have any explicit science fiction content, but they describe a dystopic and depressing existence. The book itself is a satirical depiction of society in 2018, that takes various tendencies and expressions of 70's culture and makes them widespread: in that way it can be viewed as an early example of the cyberpunk method and William Gibson's thesis that the future is here already, it is just unevenly distributed.

Lundwall has performed the songs live at least once, at the con Fabula 80 in Copenhagen. Danish fan Niels Dahlgaard described it in his book Fanmarkshistorien: "Among the more special events was Sam Lundwall's performance as a rock singer, where he performed his own King Kong Blues, clearly showing that his day as a musician was a long time ago". However, I imagine that Lundwall could have managed better with songs that were closer to his origin as a singer-songwriter.

Elle Dolores

Tretow and Lundwall later collaborated with the song Elle Dolores for the classic Swedish radio show Eldorado. It is available on Youtube. Here Lundwall goes even further to the spoken word route, it is more of a poem told to Tretow's music. The song contains some references to the space and stars, but can hardly be called science fiction.


Discography

In the records made by other people than Lundwall, only the songs that were written or performed by Lundwall himself are listed. The discography mainly is drawn from Svensk mediedatabas, but also includes contributions from other sources.

Visor i vår tid (LP, Philips, 1966): ”Guru Guree”, ”Visa till mor”, ”Monstret från planeten Mars”, ”Tre små munkar”, ”Arvid från kåken”, ”Den kärleksfulle gorillan”, ”Möte i rymden”, ”Vårvisa” (Thomas Lundquist / Lundwall), ”Häxan”, ”Pornografen”, ”I kväll kan jag inte gå hem”, ”Flickan och farbrorn”, ”Senap och socker”, ”Fackföreningsvisan” ( Lundwall / Thomas Lundquist). Everyone is included in the lyrics and notations booklet "Visor i vår tid" (Sonora musikförlag, 1966)
 
Hootenanny-hoo (singel, Knäppupp, 1967): ”Hootenanny-hoo”, ”Vals med Karin”
 
Söker du… (singel, Knäppupp, 1968): ”Söker du”, ”Shakespeares tivoli nio till tolv”
 
King Kong Blues (EP, Delta Science Fiction, 1974) / Lundwall, lyrics, song; Michael B. Tretow, composer, music: ”King Kong blues I”, ”Romeo Caligulas morgonpsalm”, ”Blågula byxan blues”, ”King Kong blues II”, ”Vart blåser vinden i natt?”, ”Igår, idag, imorgon”. Was included with the first hardcover edition of King Kong Blues, that also contains the lyrics.

Eldorado: stjärnornas musik (LP, SR Records, 1982; CD, Sveriges radio, 2004): ”Elle Dolores” (Lundwall, lyrics, song; Michael B. Tretow, composer, music)
 
Finska på svenska (singel, Wisa, 1970) / Danielsson, Bertil: ”Födelsedagsfesten”
 
En kväll i juni (singel, Sweden Team Music Production, 1971) / Tre profiler: ”Födelsedagskalaset” (sic!)
 
Bertil Danielsson begår Sam J. Lundwall och andra helgerån (LP, Wisa, 1971) / Danielsson, Bertil: ”Min farsa var en raggare”, ”Brevet från mor” (trad. / Lundwall), ”Skoptofilens visa”, ”Vals med Karin”, ”Annikas kanon”, ”Ballad om säkerheten”
 
På Röda stugan (LP, Wisa, okänt) / Visor vid Väsman: ”Möte i rymden”, ”Födelsedagsfesten”
 
Och inte kallar jag det att gråta (LP, Ytf, 1974) / Ljusberg, Ewert: ”Shakespeares tivoli”, ”Häxan”

Frida ensam (LP, Polar, 1975; CD, Polygram 1991; CD, Polar, 2005) / Lyngstad, Anni-Frid: ”Syrtaki” (translation Lundwall)

Marjatta Leppänen (LP, cassette, Rondo, 1975) / Leppänen, Marjatta: ”Noita” (”Häxan”; translation to Finnish by Virttanen, Jukka)

Tillbaka igen (LP, RCA Victor, 1976) / Carson, Tova: ”Syrtaki” (translation Lundwall)

Födelsedagsfesten (LP, Wisa, 1976) / Danielsson, Bertil: ”Flickan och farbrorn”, ”Den kärleksfulle gorillan”, ”Födelsedagsfesten”, ”I kväll kan jag inte gå hem”

Sorry I’m a Lady (LP, Scranta, 1977) / Forsberg, Monica: ”Syrtaki” (translation Lundwall)

Levande (LP, Opus 3, 1979; CD, Opus 3, 1993) / Juel, Thérèse: ”Häxan”

Folknöjet (LP, Sveriges radio, 1984): ”Vårvisa” (song Ljusberg, Ewert)

Lite blandat bandat (Cassette, Public Music Studio, 1986) / Holmer, Stanley: ”Senap och socker”, ”Vårvisa”, ”Söker du”

Sydämesi tyhjä huone (CD, Fazer Records, 1995) / Leppänen Marjatta: ”Noita” (”Häxan”; translation to Finnish by Virttanen, Jukka)

100 svenska visor 1965–1995 / I urval av Sid Jansson (CD-box, MNW, 1996): ”Den kärleksfulle gorillan”
 
Triakel (CD, MNW, 1998) / Triakel: ”Födelsedagsfesten”
 
Nordic Ethno Grooves—Collection 2 (CD, Westpark Music, 1999): ”Födelsedagsfesten” (Triakel)

Alltid retar dé nå’n (CD, cassette, Mora gladmusik, 1999) / Holmer, Stanley: ”Den kärleksfulle gorillan”, ”Arvid från kåken”

Klingelikling (CD, Tingshuset musik, 2003) / J.P. Nyströms: ”Födelsedagsfesten”

När ska klockan sluta ringa (CD, Marley Produktion, 2010) / Pelle & the Poorboys: ”Födelsedagsfesten”

Julma (CD, The Trip records, 2016) / Julma: ”Födelsedagsfesten”
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