Swedish icons 7: Evert Taube

If you are not familiar with the name Evert Taube, you should check him out. A more legendary name is hard to find in a Sweden. Born in 1890 in Gothenburg, he was a writer, musician, composer and singer. He is one of the most respected musicians and foremost troubadours in the folk ballad tradition of the 20th century.

He was most known for his idyllic folk songs about the Swedish countryside, the sea, the archipelago and the flora and fauna of the country. He is so engrained in the national psyche that there is no Midsummer celebration in Sweden without the playing of Taube’s songs. He is the soundtrack of summer.

Evert Taube didn’t restrict himself to pastoral romanticism however, he also wrote famous songs about Latin America and the Mediterranean as well as anti-war and anti-fascism anthems. Many of his songs have been translated and recorded in other languages. He had four children, one of whom is the popular Swedish crooner Sven-Bertil Taube, today 86 years old, and an icon in his own right.

Evert Taube died in Stockholm in 1976 aged 85. In 1990, he was immortalized when a statue was raised in his honour on Evert Taube’s Terrace in central Stockholm. There he sits, holding his faithful lute in his hand. A second statue of him stands discretely in the corner of Järntorget Square in the Old Town.

My favourite Taube ballad below is performed beautifully by Roxette’s singer Marie Fredriksson. The song called ‘Så Skimrande Var Aldrig Havet’ translates loosely as ‘The Sea Was Never So Shimmering’ and is about the magic of a first kiss.

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