Haunting In Any Language

Originally posted January 22, 2007

One of the things I brought back with me from a year studying Denmark long ago (besides a taste for dark beer) was an appreciation for the music of a Danish performer by the name of Sebastian. He’d released two albums or so at the time I was there, and I brought one home with me. As luck would have it, the second side had a skip in it, and by the time I played it, it was far too late to do anything about it. Still, I enjoyed that record over the years.

About fifteen years later, the fellow with whose parents I had stayed for a few months sent me a cassette with the treat of one of Sebastian’s newer albums on one side (the other side had music by his own rock group, which was pretty good in itself). The Sebastian album had as its centerpiece perhaps the most haunting piece of music I’ve ever heard: “Stille Før Storm,” which translates as “Silence Before The Storm.”

And that cassette and the defective LP were all I knew of Sebastian’s music until seven years ago, when I joined the world on line and began to scour boards and websites and other places on the ’Net for as much of his music as I could find. I’ve also bought three of his CDs online from stores in Denmark (including that album I bought so long ago; I finally know how it’s supposed to sound!).

Over the years, according to my Danish brother, Sebastian has gone from being a hippie folk-rocker to one of Denmark’s most cherished musicians, with a large number of albums and musicals to his credit.

I love all of his music that I’ve heard. But nothing else compares to “Stille Før Storm.” I still don’t know for certain what she’s singing. I have the lyrics, but my Danish is nowhere near good enough to translate without spending an hour or so paging through my Danish-English dictionary. But I don’t think one has to understand the words to sense the yearning in the song. I hope other people find it as lovely as I do.

Sebastian (vocal by Lis Sørensen) – “Stille Før Storm” [1981]

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