The second in this mini-series of Danish music brings us to the much beloved figure of writer and street philospher Dan Turell. According to the Giant Ever Expanding Unreliable Source of All Information: Dan Turèll (March 19, 1946–October 15, 1993), affectionately nicknamed “Onkel Danny” (Uncle Danny), was a popular Danish writer with notable influence on Danish literature.
Dan Turèll grew up in Vangede, which at that time was a town outside Copenhagen surrounded by fields; today it is a part of Greater Copenhagen. He died from esophageal cancer and is buried at Assistens Cemetery. On Sunday March 19, 2006, on what would have been his 60th birthday, part of the town square of Halmtorvet in Copenhagen was named Onkel Dannys Plads (English: Uncle Danny’s Square) in Dan Turèll’s honor and remembrance.
Turèll was unruly, modern, and experimental when it came to both content and form. He might probably himself have claimed to let the form at all times be a consequence of an interaction between theme and subject, which inevitably would lead to a flood of crossing genres; delightfully difficult to fit into a box. There is often a touch of autobiography, or perhaps rather self orchestration, to his works. He was very conscious of his own image. Many will remember him for his black nail polish. Thus his major breakthrough was the autobiographical novel, Vangede Billeder (English: Images of Vangede) from 1975. He shares subjects with the American Beat poets (mainly Allen Ginsberg, Jack Kerouac & William S. Burroughs): jazz, metropolis, drugs, and zen. He has an eye for the aesthetic dimensions of decline and degeneration, which he cultivates not least in his series of crime novels. Other recurring topics include Copenhagen, Malta, the teachings of Donald Duck, icons of American culture and the Americanization, which the U.S.A., for better or worse, had on Denmark.
Turèll loved his city of Copenhagen, its life, its noise and perhaps especially the little stories, that lurked everywhere. This love for the city is portrayed in many of his stories. It must be said, however, that his portrayal of Vesterbro is considerably more romantic than the Vesterbro of real life.
In the early 90’s Halfdan E, a Danish composer scored several of Turell’s poems to a jazzy, TV-show theme sort of music.
Normally, a somewhat eclectic mix of music and poetry attracts an equally eclectic, rather limited audience. Such was not the case with the two albums I produced with Danish poet Dan Turell in the early 1990s: in fact, we succeeded in reaching a broad audience who normally listened to more mainstream music, rock and jazz. Not only did we succeed beyond our wildest expectations, we had great fun doing it. Mr. Turell always wanted the world to hear our songs in a language they’d understand. Sadly, he died only six months after the initial release, and all further plans of conquering the world were shelved. Sixteen years later I get this letter from an American gentleman, stating that loves our work and that he has actually translated most of it to his native tongue.
Turns out this gent is an accomplished author in his own right—with 30 books to his credit, born and raised in Queens, NY, now living in Copenhagen, Denmark. Old plans were revived and soon after, I was back in the studio with Thomas E. Kennedy at the microphone, re-recording the album you’re now listening to, twenty years after it was initially released. A few things have been reshaped, but otherwise the material feels as fresh as it did back then- only, this time we’re communicating to the world, not just five million souls of a small green country best known for Carlsberg, Hans Christian Andersen and cool furniture from the ‘50s. (Halfdan E., from the liner notes)
A great album this. I was reminded of cop shows, nursery rhymes, Hunter E. Thompson, Tom Waits, losers and Seinfeld. Humorous and wise, this poetry and music is straight from the heart.
01 A Tribute To The Everyday Things
02 My TV Drama
03 I Should Have Been A Taxi Driver
04 All Those Women
05 Deep Frost Film
06 Today’s Disney-Sermon
08 Total Euphoria
09 Last Walk Through The City
10 Red Harvest
11 My Friend The Microphone
12 Dream Of Age