Friday, February 27, 2009

Astrid's list

Astrid's list of "bra norsk musik":

Herborg Kråkevik (Kråkeviks songbok)
Sigvart Dagsland
Ingrid Bjørnov
Anita Skorgan
Wenche Myhre
Benedicte Adrian
Halvdan Sivertsen
Jan Eggum
Odd Børresen (Vi drømte om Amerika)
Jonas Fjeld
Karoline Krüger
Åge Aleksandersen
Lars Lillo Stenberg
Steinar Albriksen
Trang fødsel

She's says that enough as a starter!

Thursday, February 26, 2009


37 can be said 'trettisju' (new style) or 'syv og tredve' (old style). Notice that the words for both 30 and 7 are different in each style. Dang... I'm beginning to think that Norwegians just approximate language and make guesses about what other people say.

Wednesday, February 25, 2009

The trouble with lyrics

Many of the lyrics I've been finding on the internet are written to reflect the dialect of the singer, making them difficult to decifer. Some songs, like Bjørn Eidsvåg beautiful "Skyfri Himmel", have about the half the words unrecognizable to google translate. It takes a lot of head scratching and phonetics to figure out the meanings. I'm seeing more and more why the two basic topics of conversation in Norway are (1) the weather and (2) dialects.

At the end of the posting where I found the lyrics was this note:

"Det jeg liker best er teksten og koringen til Rita Eriksen. Legg for eksempel merke til at hun synger Stavangersk mens han synger Sauda-dialekt."

"What I like best is the lyrics and backing vocals of Rita Eriksen. For example, note that she sings Stavangerske while he sings Sauda-dialect."

I'm finding these dialects fascinating now that I'm beginning to hear the differences!

Monday, February 23, 2009

The list grows

Merete send me more musicians this morning. I'm not yet done with list 1 – this is exciting. I'll post them here so I don't lose the list.

Merete's first list:

Halvdan Sivertsen (nordnorsk trubadur)
Kari Bremnes (nordnorsk visesanger)
Øystein Sunde (ordekvilibrist (word-equilibrist))
Vamp (Band from Stavenger)
DumDum Boys (band from Trondheim)
Tre små kinesere, also from Trondheim.

Merete's second list:

CC Cowboys har noen kjempefine låter (sjekk "Kom igjen").
Odd Nordstoga synger viser (med litt spesiell dialekt for deg, kanskje..).
Åge Aleksandersen kjenner du vel fra før......??

Birds and House

We sold the cockatiels this weekend. We had several inquiries immediately upon advertising, and so found a great home for them with a family with 5 children and another male cockatiel. Turns out the family also wants to rent our house, so we may go ahead and make arrangements for that. Easy!

Sunday, February 22, 2009

Researching Kari Bremnes

Working down Merete's list, I've been listening to Kari Bremnes, a wonderful folk singer.

The research takes a little time, but the end result is worth it. Here's what I did to research Kari:

Youtube: What videos have fans posted, these are usually the most popular songs. I hit some very exciting tunes right off, including "Alle vet jo det", a norwegian version of Leonard Cohen's "Everybody knows". Nice! Two other quick finds: "Togsang" sounds celtic and cool, and "Du skulle vært her" is very very good.

Search for "Kari Bremnes lyrics". I can find the lyrics to a few songs and see what they're about. I try to understand in Norwegian first, then run them through Google translate, which gives me a rough English translation to puzzle over. It's fun to explore songs, and I'm getting much better and understanding by listening.

Wikipedia: Get a glance of the career, albums, awards, and maybe some fun stories. The article is scant for Bremnes, but it does mention 3 albums that got awards... and an album where she has put Edvard Munch's poetry to music. Ah! (Munch painted that famous psychodelic picture 'The Scream'.)

iTunes store: This works great for a lot of bands, but it's very hit-or-miss with Norwegian groups. In this case, it's a hit. iTunes turns up 20 albums. Yikes! What do I do?

Amazon: often has norwegian albums that iTunes doesn't have, and they have a good mp3 download program now which makes it good place to shop for foreign music. So many albums here too. Herregud. Which one do I buy? I sample a few songs from her LIVE album which came out last year. Mark that as a maybe!

Search for "best Kari Bremnes song" and "beste Kari Bremnes sang". Sometimes I can find a discussion on message board... but no luck. But I do find a mention in a music review of a "best of" album in 1995. Her 1995 album is called "Erindring" which I look up. "Remembering". Yeah, the name fits. I recognize a few songs on the playlist from other albums. This must be it.

Official website:, of course. Should have thought of it earlier. The site's promoting her live album. Sounds good. I'll get that one. Her site also has her biography, reviews, info on all the albums, and... Lyrics! She has lyrics to all of her songs on her site! Thank you Kari!

Buy albums: I buy the LIVE album from amazon because the window is still open, and the best of album from iTunes. Share the wealth. That gives me 29 songs to enjoy, downloaded in a few minutes.

Lyrics list: I make a two-column document and put the norsk lyrics in one and the translation from Google translate into the other column. Now I can listen to the music, read the lyrics and understand them at the same time. (Not today though, I have many things to do!) I did this with some other artists and now I can walk around the house and sing the lines.

Guitar tabs: The songs I really like I can find the guitar tabs for, and then I can play and sing. (I already have the tabs for "Everybody knows", so that may be ) This is a fun and authentic way to learn the language!

Hmmm... I've got the live album playing and a few of the songs are in English, translations of songs she's recorded in Norwegian. I can listen to both versions. Thank you again, Kari!

Tuesday, February 17, 2009


Gitarkameraten is a norwegian super-group of four well-known solo artists (like a Norwegian version of The Traveling Wilburys?) Merete recommended some musicians to me, and now I have much research to do.

iTunes won't let you download any music from the Norwegian store (Booooo!), but their albums are available on, so I downloaded them and will enjoy studying this music for a while.

Here's a video clip of the four guys singing a medley of their tunes:

The way we roll...

I learned this phrase on Sunday: Det spiller ingen rolle. It means "It plays no role", which is the expression for "It doesn't matter".

On Monday, I was searching Trondheim rentals, and one ad ended: "Gutt eller jente, det spiller ingen trille! ;-)". That means "Boys or girls, it plays no 'roll'" where 'trille' means 'roll' as in 'roll your r's'. So this is a joke that requires one to know that 'trille' is english for 'roll', which sounds like norwegian 'rolle'. A cross-language pun. Cool!

Wednesday, February 11, 2009


After finding that many of the singers in Venn record in English, I was pleased to find a guy who writes and sings i norsk. Odd Nordstoga (he sings near the end of the song) comes from Telemark and charms people with his strange accent. His breakout album in 2004, Luring, became a big hit and he went on to record lots of good stuff. His music is a blend of Norwegian folk and alternative pop... it's quite nice. The song below was the most played song on the radio in 2004. It's called "Kveldssong for deg og meg" ("Evening song for you and me") and it's about hanging out, and it features a squawking pig. Huh.

Here's a weird fan video that helpfully has words and visual cues. I'm learning this on guitar now for laughs. And for training.

Tuesday, February 10, 2009

Venn Report

I started this blog studying the song Venn. It's a benefit song (like a Norwegian We Are The World), sung by many popular Norwegian singers. I thought that by researching artists in this video, I could find interesting music. I found interesting music, yes, but I also found interesting stories.

Here's the link to live version of Venn, which started it all, and here's my report.

Kurt Nilsen

Man, nothing like a blast of Kurt Nilsen to put me in a good mood.

The line he sings in Venn really stands out... this guy's voice is amazing. He's the guy with a gap in his teeth, and he's the first person I took note of the first time I saw the video, both because of his unusual looks and his incredible voice. Well, this guy was a plumber and he won the Norwegian Idol and went on to win World Idol. To top it off, he just radiates modesty and goodness. He's a Norwegian darling, all right.

It was fun to track down video clips on YouTube and watch him from his first interview to him winning bigger and bigger honors. Here he is at World Idol.


Of course you noticed the redhead who does the rap solo in Venn, he gets the longest block of words in the song. He goes by the name Ravi, and he's an amusing guy. Here's a video where he's a baby. The chorus begins with "Tjeriåu, tjeriåu, baibai" (pronounced: Cherrio, cherrio, bye-bye) and goes on with "Its tu leit tu krai."


Did you notice one of the singers staring right at the camera during her lines in Venn? She gives off a professional vibe, doesn't she? She should, she's perhaps the best soprano in the world. Her name is Sissel (no last name required). She sang at the opening of the Olympics in Lillehammer, sang on the soundtrack of Titanic, and was nominated for a grammy for her singing with the Mormon Tabernacle Choir. She's about my age, 40.

It was funny to find her singing "Sukiyaki". We were community friends for 3 Japanese students on a special 5-month college program at WWU, and they introduced us to this song (one of the most famous Japanese songs worldwide.) Sukiyaki means "to walk while looking up." Here's young Sissel, age 14, singing it in Norwegian. Nice voice.

Sissel sings Sukiyaki

But here's a beautiful song, Eg Ser. She's 20 here.

She's from Bergen, and pronounces many words quite differently... especially the endings of short words that are dropped in Trondersk. She pronounces half the words in "Jeg vil gå de med deg" differently, and yet it's entirely understandable. (It helps that she enunciates very well!) People in Norway talk all the time about all the different dialects, and I'm starting to see why.

Bertine Zetlizt

Many Norwegian artists, I'm finding, record in English. I suppose that makes a lot sense – record in Norwegian and have an audience of 4.5 million, record in English and you have the world. Bertine is one such English-only pop singer. I did found this song which was notable because it was played in a commercial we heard often just before we left Norway last year, so it was funny to stumble upon.

Other Artists

There are many other stories and songs to find... stay tuned.

Monday, February 9, 2009

Every day, something new.

On Sunday I downloaded units 16-20 of the Pimsleur course, my once-a-month Pimsleur upgrade. Unit 16 has a section of mental math, it's tricky to concentrate on the question (Hvor mange er tjueåtte pluss fem?) and be able to answer in a complete sentence (Tjueåtte pluss fem er trettitre). "Trettitre" (33) is hard for me to pronounce, those dang rolling r's.

Then this morning I had an email from a teacher in Gjøvik wanting some help with his Math and Art project... an email all in Norwegian. Seems like every day there's something Norwegian happening!

Here's a graph of kroner vs. dollar over the last 5 years. It was about 5 nok = 1 usd when we left last summer, and by September it had shot up to 7 nok = 1 usd.

Sunday, February 8, 2009

Shifting and Ghosting

Got home today and had a letter waiting from Norway. A second copy of my contract. It's funny, I can actually read it this time.

And then tonight I got an email from Facebook: Luke har bekreftet deg som venn på Facebook. Følg denne lenken for å se profilen til Luke eller skrive på veggen hans. Though I've been writing on the walls of friends in Norway, it's the first email from Facebook in Norwegian.

And so, the Shift Happens.

At work, I'm starting to ghost. 'Ghost' feels like an appropriate verb here: fading out, becoming irrelevant, becoming invisible. Several people warned me this would happen once I told people I'd be going, but still I didn't think I would ghost so quickly or so dramatically. I wonder too if the shift is in others or in me... I think it is both. I shall accept this as the course of things and continue to do good work.

Thursday, February 5, 2009

Ole and Lena

I'm in Arizona right now for some family business. Met a couple from Minnesota who said they live "right in the middle of Ole- and Lena- land." My mother-in-law explained the reference: there's a bunch of jokes they tell in Minnesota about Ole and Lena, a fictional couple who immigrated to the US from Norway. And, she just happened to have two of these joke books!

Here's one of the jokes:

Little Ole was doing arithmetic. "Dad, can yew help me vit my aritmetic? I am looking fer da common denominator." --- "Vell, uff da!" grumbled Papa Ole. "Haven't dey found dat darned ting yet? Dey vere lookin' fer it vhen I vas a kid!"

Wednesday, February 4, 2009

Complaint Choir

The above is a kid's complaint choir in Finland. The blog I found it on said they have a complaint choir in Bødo also (which is in Norway), so with a little looking I found the Norwegian complaint choir. This will be worth further study, though the Norwegian choir is with adults, not kids. I must say, it's a lot funnier when we can watch kids complaining and see in their complaints glimmers of truth. When we watch adults complaining, even though the complaints are just as real, it is somehow undignified. Here's the link. I few minutes ago I promised to stop studying so I really must go back to not studying.


Went with Krill's to Everett this weekend, det var veldig fint.

On Sunday I started listening to the CD that comes with my "official" norwegian text and workbook, trying to pick up where I left off in Norway. På Vei is a good text, the workbook is real work, and the CD has awesome readings, dialogues, poems and songs. But it's hard work, and as I started reading Chapter 12 (which is about schools), I suddenly felt completely burned out on studying.

I've been going pretty much non-stop: listening to audio lessons, finding and trying to understand videos, listening to children music, finding and translating the lyrics and then learning to sing along, meeting a couple times a week with Allan to speak.

Sunday night - POP! I broke. I've hit a point that I feel I'm getting worse, and I know enough learning and about how I learn to know that I should take a nice break and do something else for a few days. So I will. Tonight I'm just playing guitar. Well, just playing guitar and maybe singing a Norwegian song. Or two.