December 7th, 2018


ANNIKA > JENS

SILENT NIGHT

1. There was a kid called Joseph   
Heíd been dealt a bad hand  
Was born poor and a bastard 
But grew up to be a preacher 

Made a new friend called Franz

Joe went over to Franz house  

Said: see this poem I once wrote
I feel like itís got something
Can you please put some music
To my words

Looking down at the paper 

And the title read:
Silent Night  



2. The first time they performed it

It was Christmas Eve
They sang it together
Franz played the guitar
I can see them before me

And this big shot organ builder 
Fell in love with the song
Brought it back to his home town
Where some folk singers heard it
And they spread it around

Slightly changed
each time it was sung,
was
Silent Night


When Iím down I just think about it

How they must have felt when they performed it  

If the choir cried when they sang it 
If anyone in the church that day said 

Well I like the older stuff better 

They should do more upbeat tunes 

It could have been a day like any other day
Where Joseph would be preachin and Franz would be playin
9 out of10 days are slightly disappointing

But on the tenth, you see that light beckoning


They had no idea 
Silent Night would turn out to be
Silent Night. 

Sing it with me. 

Let your voice carry
from all those miles away.
If you sing loud enough,
my  microphone might record you 

3. In World War One, 1914 

Because it was Christmas, there was a short truce on the battle field

Both sides laid own their weapons, sang carols in the night. 

And the day after, 
like nothing had happened,
they picked up the fight. 

There was only one song
known to soldiers on both sides. 

And for a second
All was calm, and all was bright.











November 14th, 2018


JENS > ANNIKA

ON THE EDGE OF TIME

October 27th, 2018
Iím writing you one last time Annika Norlin
It was nice to see you that morning at the station
Iím sure you were a warrior in a previous incarnation

Me, I mustíve been a rabbit or an ostrich
Or a pile of trembling leaves sown together with cross stitch
My anxiety has been holding me hostage
Iíve developed this problem with a really tough itch

I went to the clinic to get a prescription
Cried a little in front of the physician
Ointments and sedatives and antibiotics
Went home with a bag full of legal narcotics

The best is the sedatives, they work well but softly
I donít scratch myself in sleep, I pass out like a baby
When I wake up Iím rested, Iím calm and happy
The only bad thing is the strange dreams that haunt me

Iím deep in the woods, in a village with tipiís
The branches from old oak trees hang heavy
A woman carrying a baby greets me
says sheís glad that I came, sheís been trying to reach me

She shows me around, the villagers are happy
they give me some wine and flowers to greet me
their societyís based on a loose form of anarchy
theyíve dealt with the climate, injustice and patriarchy 

Cause this is the future I can tell from their technology
But they use it for good and they use it so sparsely
They are not but slaves under their own machinery
The cogwheels turn only when they think itís necessary

And the woman grabs my arm and she looks me in the eye
Sheís contacted me cause sheís worried bout our time
This future is only one of many lines
That we can potentially walk down you and I

When I wake up I giggle cause it seems kinda cringey
I think about their village, what a bunch of fucking hippies
This must be because I read that book by Marge Piercy
Where some people from the future make contact with Connie

A woman in a mental institution in the seventies
and show her their world thatís one of many possibilities
And instill in her the hope to fight for humanity
I loved that book, but as a document of history

Cause now it seems strange to hope for anything at all
When every step forward seems infinitely small
Save the polar caps from melting by recycling milkbottles
While the CEOís are flying their pets to skilodges

How vulnerable it is when someone says what they want
Instead of just saying what they donít want
How easy it is to laugh at someoneís utopia
after decades of being spoonfed dystopia

I rub my cortison ointment on my eczema
I take my sedatives and crawl up to the heater
Keep treating the outside, ignoring the inside
Keep treating the symptoms, not the root of the problems

And in my next dream the womanís back again
This time sheís shouting cause her signal is fading
I wake up sweating, my skin is itching
I put some ice on it and sit down in the kitchen

And outside the leaves are slowly falling
Over pigeons, buildings, CEOís and children
Iím gripped by a love for this world that we live in
And I think about a quote from Ursula Le Guin:

ďWe live in capitalism. Its power seems inescapable. 
So did the divine right of kings. 
Any human power can be resisted 
and changed by human beingsĒ

Thereís a dying light in the distance that beckons
As the clocks are rapidly running out of seconds
This is where I get off I reckon
Take care of yourself, your friend Jens Lekman









October 5th, 2018


ANNIKA > JENS

ELECTION DAY

1. I wake up early on Election Day
Iíve already voted so Iím timewise ok
Today, GŲteborg feels like my head
Slow, gloomy and grey
My train departs soon, we meet up at the station
You just came in from Bergen, how are you Jens Lekman?
I eye everyone, try to guess 
what theyíre voting for

And this is what we speak of: that when you know someone likes you
- as a friend or a lover or a listener - you still donít know
WHY they like you, 
so you take a guess
based on their appearance
but people are always so complicated
you can never guess those things. 

2. A woman comes up, she says sheís a clairvoyant
She says thanks for this Friday, I went to your concert
I like you, cause I can tell you were a warrior
in a past life

On the train I buy an apple
Itís so huge, itís astounding
And I get so upset
Iím by myself, canít show no one
I fight an urge to show the girl sitting next to me
But she looks like a model, probably doesnít want to see (it), 
itís amazingly large, this apple, and I gram it
But it gets very few likes

3. And outside the window, the trees flaunt their shit
And the fields, and the flowers, and the lakes that are glittering
Behind me, two people in suits
say climate change is fake news

And I take my huge apple
And I show it down their throats
I say thatís not a topic you can
argue about
It is what it is, itís not up for debate
Do you really think I would be stuck on this train
Twelve hours today 
if it was optional

5. That last part was I lie, Iím a pacifist
But I enjoyed making that up I have to admit
Lets not forgot I was a warrior 
In a past life



The results are like life on Election Day news

No one really won, and all are confused

Itís quiet, but feels like a bomb with a really long fuse



6. And I like you cause you talk about the same things that I do

Telling stories and TV, and being on tour
It makes me feel like an extrovert
And that is nice for a change

And I like me because I always crash

I wallow and complain, and then I bounce back

If a clairvoyant came up in a hundred years
I think she would have said to me: 

In your past life, you were lame but at least you tried
Now those fumes will choke you so get inside

Now its time to sleep on Election Day











September 2nd, 2018


JENS > ANNIKA

COSMETICS STORE

I went to a cosmetics store

to buy some lotion

Tried to describe my type of skin

to the store clerk, a kind woman


She led me over to a sink

and held my hand in it

And washed it so carefully

for what felt like a minute


And I felt a tear running down my cheek

There in the store

I hid it quick

I didnít expect 

to react like that

Itís just that thereís been a grief,

Iíve tried to carry with grace

A heart that broke

while I kept a straight face

A hand that forgot

what itís like to be held,

what itís like to be grazed










August 17th, 2018


ANNIKA > JENS

FAILURE

Licking my lips I lean
in for the first kiss
He says I am mistaken
Leaves me eyes closed, mouth open

Big people fly in
To see me rise to the occasion
I know this is it
But occasions make me sink like a stone 
They fly home

Opening the paper 
I   see my big idea
punctured like a balloon
deflating
 for the whole country to see
Blood pumping through my veins  
As I fall

Hereís to the feeling of failure
Ah, the rush when you made a fool or yourself  
Ah, the liberating fresh scent of failure

You are finally free from yourself

Reading your letter 
It made me remember

When I was a teenager

I had a band that no one knew of

If I express my love for no one
I wonít be rejected
If I play my songs to no one
They wonít be made fun of
If I point out my own flaws
Put them on a shirt

Hereís to the feeling of failure
Ah, the rush when you tried and you fell  hšrmas
Ah, liberating fresh scent of failure

It's a big fuck off sign to yourself

Free falling
Free falling into thin air  
Who will be left when I come down
What parts will be there



Free falling
Free falling into thin air 
if it fit didnít please them

I must have done it to please
me
it must mean
I am finally free

In this song alone I worry:
Am I too straight, am I
saying things that belong to
refrigerator magnets 
but

Oh no! I am liberated now
I will do no such thing
 as to hide what Iím saying 
Hear the strings play it  

Hereís to the feeling of failure
Ah, the rush when you made a fool or yourself

The liberating fresh scent of failure

It's a big fuck off sign to yourself







July 12th, 2018


JENS > ANNIKA

REVENGE OF THE NERDS

Annika, I long for that too
A parental figure to serve
Someone who could recognize the pain in me
And validate my hurt
Who could point me in a direction
And say walk this way and youíll be free
That Iíd have a home there among them 
in their little community

I think back on a teenage friend
who introduced me to Marilyn Manson
In the darkest moments of high school
It channeled our frustration
Heíd set up a poster of Britney
She was the face of all that was wrong,
the hierarchy weíd never be part of
and then he brought out his airgun

At a concert I met a punkgirl
She just walked up and asked my name
asked if I played any instruments
she had a band that could barely play
The band was mostly an excuse
to wear leatherjackets and hang
and go vandalize the swimsuit ads from H&M
while I carried their spraycans

The best song they ever wrote
was called ďCanít Get Laid Cause Weíre Too UglyĒ
But they never blamed anyone for that
except Baywatch and Tutti Frutti

I had kind of a crush on the punkgirl
but she had a crush on my friend
and despite my heart being punctured
I delivered the message to him
But it only made him offended
he slammed the door to his room
Her interest became an insult
and confirmed what he thought he knew

And he was furious, so furious
at all the Britneyís that he couldnít get
I distanced myself when I saw what
he'd written on the internet

I re-watched Revenge of the Nerds
Do you remember the speech Ďbout being different?
How I cried when I saw that at 13
But do you remember the rape-scene? Cause I didnít. 
Or how generally creepy the nerds are
The plot could be re-summarized this way:
Some athletes try to stop some sex criminals
from assaulting their partners, but fail. 

I thought about this culture
that gave me strength when I felt like a freak
But also gave me an ulcer
from an anger that I couldnít speak
That I had somehow been robbed of a right
to love and sex that I deserved
A feeling that the game was rigged
Between alphamales and betanerds

And then Isla Vista happened
and the Toronto attack this spring
And I read these incel threads
they reminded me of something
I checked my old friend on Facebook
scared of what I would see
But he just posted pics of his family
in his profile pic he looked happy

He had a photoalbum called ďgood timesĒ
with a photo where we try to look evil
in shirts that said, ďHow does it feel
to be one of the beautiful people?Ē









June 8th, 2018


ANNIKA > JENS

JOINING A CULT


1. Thanks for your letter

Please send a clone over

Iíll use him for garden work
 and harmonies

Speaking of pretty new
documentaries
have you seen the one about the Rajneespuram society?

Everyone seem to think
They were lunatics.
But I sort of thought
Hey I get this

Inside this rational
brain of mine
I long to be contradicted 
I wait for a sign

Doesnít matter what cult
What sign
Just give me any culty sign

2. Iíll tell you all the
advantages.
Though Iím guessing maybe you are an
atheist?
: Youíd get a reason
and youíd get a goal.
Youíd know how to dress
and how to cleanse your soul
Iíd be up for that, Iíd be totally up for cleansing my soul.


Would I have to split from my family?
They wouldnít know what got into me.
Iíd change my name into something cool
Like Warlord Springgrass, 
and the leader would use me as a songwriter tool
Iíd spread her message to the world.

Send in the choir
Send in the choir.

3. Each day Iím waiting eagerly.
When I cross this corner, will there be a sign there just for me?
A special light or a person with a glow
that says something new I didnít already know

But there's never anything
Just the same old cats and fences.

My leader would know what to do about everything .
About the wars and the climate and all the hurting
She would say: sh! I know just what to do
You just relax, and you stay low.
Iíll punish the bad guys,  set the good ones free.
Then weíll have a fiesta

Send in the choir

Send in the choir

4. Last month when you came to visit
You played a set in the church in the city.
For Shirin you set your voice up high and you let go.
It made me cry. 
So when you answer in July,
can you please do so in falsetto








May 4th, 2018


JENS > ANNIKA

NOT BECAUSE IT'S EASY, BUT BECAUSE IT'S HARD


Not Because It's Easy But Because It's Hard

Knock knock, are you there?
Sorry to wake you my fellow bear
Iíll slip this song under a rock somewhere
so you can hear it when itís summer

It hurts to hear youíve felt exhausted
Iíve seen too many people round me haunted
By the cruelest to do lists
longer than the end credits of movies

It shocked me to hear about Avicii
Did you see that documentary?
I read Avicii means hell in buddhism
And hell is what his dream had become

That scene when he tried to cancel those shows
Made me think back on some years ago
So scared of letting anyone down
I worked myself into the ground

Felt the cortisol pumping through my sleep
When an ad flashed by in my Facebook feed
A cheap DNA cloning kit
Didnít know technology had made it there yet

Connected it to a USB hub
Dabbed saliva on a cotton bud
Gave my passwords to all my email accounts
And slowly a body rose from the ground

With more clones of me we would have more time
One could write the tune and the other the rhymes
A third could focus on the business
And a fourth would send greeting cards for christmas

But soon our focus fell apart
I said ďguys, if all of us do our part
We could make it to the moon with our art
Not because itís easy, but because itís hardĒ

I heard the clones bragging
about all the sleep theyíd been missing
They posted vids of them sipping
on a smoothie while their eyes were twitching

Coffee for lunch, email for dinner
In those press photos weíve never looked thinner
Exhaustion only happens to a winner
Wear it like a badge of honour

It was not until clone # 1
Was hospitalized with palpitations
That they asked themselves what weíd done
And were horrified by what theyíd become

And the slaves turned on their master
Filmed me while they kicked my ass there
And posted it with the caption
ďSmash the capitalist systemĒ

So I hope you slept well in your bears den
I hope youíre back on your feet again
But if you should need the time to 
take the next month off and Iíll cover for you








April 5th, 2018


ANNIKA > JENS

HIBERNATION

1. Remember I took on too much last spring? 

After a while, my nerves went to war for anything. 
Overfeeling everything
Sad looking sock and Iíd be down for the whole weekend.

And I couldnít sleep at nights because my
rabbit heart kept me awake
du-du-du-dunk all night
and all the news 
and the opinions 
and the strip lights

So that was when I seriously started
considering hibernation
Felt like the natural thing to do, just
going into sleep mode
I just said I love you to my family
went over to the station
Took a train and jumped right out in the woods
Lied there until my summer fat wore off

2. Halfway into the forest
Met some kids there with a bright red spade.
 
Offered them a twenty for it. 

Said I need to get myself some sort of cave. 


And I said to the kids
Ētake that spade out and dig
dig-dig-dig-dig I need a hole this big 

so it fits me arms out
I need it for the coming six months

See lately I have seriously been 
considering hibernation
Feels like the natural thing to do, just
going into sleep mode
I thought, Iím just gonna pack my bags, go over to the station
Take a train and jump right out in the woods
Lie here until my summer fat wears offĒ

I wouldnít have to worry about the world
Iím a bear in hibernation, I donít worry about the world











March 2nd, 2018



JENS > ANNIKA

FOREVER YOUNG, FOREVER BEAUTIFUL

In Milwaukee I met a mountaineer
he told me how heíd taken an old lady from there
to one of those famous mountaintops
where her husband once had perished and dropped

Being a gymnast she was in very good shape
but once in a while they had to stop for a break
to warm their hands on a cup of java
As he helped her put on her balaclava

Itíd been 42 years he had heard
but the manís body was quite well preserved
from the permanent cold 
he was 

Forever young
forever beautiful

On the way down her cheeks were redder
redder than the reddest apple
they set up their tent at basecamp
crawled into their sleepingbags and she lit a candle

She said: You shouldíve seen him in his summer clothes
the short pants that gently exposed
his calves that spoke of hidden treasures
golden ratios, unknown pleasures

She told him how their bodies had together bloomed
that first time they did it in her student room
How she had got on top of him
so she could see everything
reflect in the light of the moon

Forever young
forever beautiful












February 1st, 2018



ANNIKA > JENS

SHOWERING IN PUBLIC

1. Itís early morning 
Iím packing my backpack, 
computer and headphones and swimwear but no towel
I donít like showering at gyms never thought of why
maybe itís cause Iím semi known
I donít want anyone listening to my albums
while telling their mums what my ass looks like
showering in public, 
showering in public, 

This is me recapping my life when it comes to showering in public 

2. Six years old, some guy at the pool kept his office
next to the girlsí locker room

drinking his coffee
while watching us shower
I donít know his story
Someone said he was a pervert
Iím like: well maybe he just liked coffee
but the rumour alone
gave us a sense that you 
have to watch yourself
while showering in public, 
showering in public

you have to use your towel strategically,  shower one body part at a time



3. Two times a week we had gym class
in grades four to nine,
that was two times a week
that the boys could sneak
into our locker room to try to catch us naked
it became a tradition
I still remember their bored faces
like they thought we would get upset if they 
didnít show up
to watch us shower in public, 
shower in public
You couldnít shower and then you would get accused of being sweaty
in public



4. At seventeen, 
in the locker room, one of the 
bathrooms was broken
it had a sign that said BROKEN
But some of the girls 
from the arts programme opened
the door anyway, 
found a guy whoíd drilled a hole
through the wall to watch us all come in after gym and then magically
shower in public, 
shower in public

They chased him down the hall, 
the paper published the news with a fun caricature


5. Itís fun 
come to think of it
I know no less erotic places than locker rooms, 
sweaty women drinking protein drinks with sweaters 
but no pants on
talking about kids and work and training
Blowing noses and
laughing and complaining


Jens, I must go now, Iím heading home

On the yard, a small amount of snow has laid to rest

I hope you bought yourself a quilted jacket down in Gothenburg.
Jens, I wish you all the best. 











January 4th, 2018





JENS > ANNIKA

WHO REALLY NEEDS WHO


January 1st 2018
Iím writing you now, Annika Norlin
From the remnants of a new years eve
The fog that slithers through the streets
I am trying to remember how 
you made friends when you were young
What were those friendships based on
And what made them so strong?

Francisco was my first friend, 
He lived round the bend in my neighborhood
He came up one day and asked ďare you a turd?Ē
I said I was not, he said "then youíre goodĒ
He had post traumatic memories
I didnít have any friends
We based our friendship on our non-turdness
at the time, it just made sense

Remember the first time that we met? 
that fall in New York that I want to forget
You asked if someone had a show for your band
I surprised myself when I reached out a hand
I was feeling so alone back then
vulnerable and heartbroken
Despite that people used to call my name
As i stepped off the Q train    

I joined a program where you meet refugees
To feel a bit better bout myself honestly
I met Nazir, once a week
And we ended up good friends eventually
He said ďthanks for taking the time to meet, itís really nice of youĒ.
And I wondered who should be thankful to who, and who really needed who. 

Itís a miserable, sad and lonely life
Youíre a slave to your fears and then you die
But once in a while the skin becomes thin
You stand there by the door saying ďcan I come in?Ē
I just want someone to talk to
Well maybe not just anyone
Iíve always liked what goes on in your brain
So would you like to correspond?







January 4th, 2018




Photo by Emma-Sofia Olsson


Happy new year!

Beginning today and throughout 2018, me and Annika Norlin (Hello Saferide, Sškert!) will be doing a project called Correspondence where we publish our communication through songs. Once a month a new song will be published here:

http://c-o-r-r-e-s-p-o-n-d-e-n-c-e.com

Twelve songs in total, six by each person.


JENS: Annika and I first met ten years ago. From her first record I felt we had something in common, the music and the stories, but it wasnít until 2008 when she released More Modern Short Stories with her band Hello Saferide that I felt:
1. I need to step up my songwriting 
2. I should be friends with this person. 
I was living in New York at the time, I was heartbroken and miserable. One day I looked at her website and saw that she was looking for someone to help set up a show in New York. Normally I wouldíve hesitated to reach out because of fear of being rejected (Sorry Jens, but your music sucks so I donít think I want you to help me set up a show) but I was in a state where the worst had already happened and so what harm could it do to just send an email?

ANNIKA: In 2008, I had been touring indie pop clubs for a couple of years. It seemed like everywhere we went, we were following in Jensí footsteps, playing cities where he had already played. (That was a great show. But do you know whoís really GREAT? Jens Lekman. He played here last week. The place was so packed, everyone started puking because they could not believe what they just witnessed and afterwards Jens took the entire audience for a swim and performed another show by the beach, two thousand people proposed to one another and world peace occured. Repeat x 2000)
Jens helped Hello Saferide get a gig in Brooklyn. Afterwards, we said hi. I was pretty sure heíd he an asshole because of all of that indie success but he seemed pretty nice, we all thought so.

JENS: Years passed. One day she wrote me out of the blue and asked if I wanted to sing with her at a small show in Sweden. She mentioned something about me being the Joan Baez to her Bob Dylan but she also wanted me to play harmonica which I thought was Bobís thing. I really donít know much about Dylan and Baez. But I said yes and the show was brilliant.

ANNIKA: I was doing a small solo show in the Stockholm archipelago with my other project Sškert!, where I sing in Swedish. I had been watching a documentary where Bob Dylan sings with Joan Baez at the Newport festival. Iíve never been much of a Dylan fan but that show got to me, something about how close the audience got that day and how much Dylanís narrative voice was lifted by Baezí melodic tone. I felt the need for a Joan, a Joan who would get it. I came to think of Jensí beautiful voice and asked him to join me on harmonies and harmonica. The show was fun and some songs never sounded better than they did that night. But perhaps more important than the show, that was the night we became friends. Friends that donít know each other very well and very rarely meet, because I live in UmeŚ, Jens in Gothenburg, and we both travel a lot. But straight away, we found common ground.


JENS: Annika has always felt like someone I would be good friends with if we lived in the same town, as itís been the last years weíve written emails, given feedback on each others demos and occasionally had a beer at some festival that we happened to both be booked for. In 2015 I was doing two songwriting projects that were different from the usual album recording and touring cycle: Postcards, where I wrote and released a song every week for a year and Ghostwriting, where I gathered stories from voluntary participants and turned them into songs. As a natural follow up to these projects I came up with the idea to do a similar thing as a correspondence with another songwriter, where the storytelling is central and each song is an answer to or somehow inspired by the last song, a pile of letters building on top of each other to form a picture of the year 2018. I went to the library to do research on correspondence in literature and was struck by how you had to be dead and declared a genius for your correspondence to be published. Thatís sad, I thought. I talked to Annika about the idea and we decided this would be great to do together while we were still alive and before we were declared geniuses.

ANNIKA: 2018 seemed like a good year to do that: itís election year in Sweden. Will Trump blow something up? Will a comet hit the earth? Will either of us go on a fun cruise? We actually have no idea what this project will end up being except for that we decided to use one instrument only. Which is something we may or may not stick to. The recordings will be pretty low key but because we are trying to impress each other it might actually turn out to be worth listening to.


UmeŚ, January 4th
Annika Norlin

GŲteborg, January 4th
Jens Lekman















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