A friend from Detroit wanted to experience Finland and traveled here to visit my ex-wife and I in 1993. We showed her around Helsinki, hitting all the hot sights, mandatory restaurants and clubs. We even took a ferry to Stockholm, Sweden, so she could discover another stunningly beautiful Scandinavian capital. She loved it and so did we. In short, it was a fortnight, I’ll never forget. We had a blast but this was an interesting period for me musically-speaking as well.
While touring Stockholm on foot, I ran into a rather quaint CD store. It’s actually still there, between the old town and Sergel’s Torg. They had a great selection of what would nowadays be labeled as classic rock, and although I walked into the store intending to purchase Perfect Strangers by Deep Purple, I exited the shop with an album called Midnight Sun by Sir Douglas Quintet. It was a hard CD to come by even then, a rarity, only ten years after its release – I considered myself lucky.
This record is a bit of an oddity in the group’s catalog. Not released in the US at the time. Midnight Sun was strictly aimed at the Scandinavian market. It sold extremely well in Sweden. In fact, it was a huge hit all over Scandinavia and obviously, one look at the lyrics of its lead single "Meet Me In Stockholm" will tell you why.
Meet me in Stockholm, baby, we'll mess around
Take a real slow boat to Helsinki town
When it's over, now you want to stay
Live your life with me the Scandinavian way
If you were in northern Europe in 1983, you could not avoid hearing this tune. This is basically why I discovered it. Helsinki being one of the places mentioned in the song, ”Meet Me In Stockholm” was played to death on Finnish radio. However, my introduction to the track didn’t come through hearing it on the radio. Rather, I caught a TV special of the band playing live in Stockholm. The show closed with ”Meet Me in Stockholm” and I was sold.
My relationship with country music has always been strained, at least hard to explain or define. It’s a genre, where everybody still uses only three chords, four if they feel adventurous. This means that the melody that’s accompanied by those chords has to be pretty damn original for the track to have any real value. As a result, the world is filled with predictable country music. And if you are thinking that the same is also true for pop, let me just point out that there is predictability and then there’s predictability, the latter resembling brain death. Sorry, that’s just the way it is.
Why am I going into this? Well, “Meet Me In Stockholm” is one of the finest melodies in this very unforgiving genre and as a result, still stands out, almost forty years after its release. No doubt this also owes a great deal to Doug Sham’s strong delivery of the lyrics and the fabulous performance by this legendary group from Texas. Other highlights include the steel-guitar licks and clever, if a bit sparse, harmonies.
As is the case with quite a few lyrics I’ve analyzed lately, they seem to resonate with me differently over the years. It’s actually rather silly. Take this song, for instance. When young and in love, you will think, “Who in their right mind would want to go to Stockholm and mess around?” When not, you find yourself thinking, “How much are the tickets?”
By the way, Stockholm is filled with opportunities to mess around…or so I’ve heard.
You can learn more about Sir Douglas Quintet here:
About the curator - Tommi Tikka
Tommi Tikka is a linguist, poet, professional songwriter, recording artist and a music aficionado. He started playing guitar when he was four and writing songs when he was six. Consequently, he doesn't remember a time when he wasn't playing or writing. It's fair to say, music and lyrics are not just something he loves to engage himself in. To him, they are a way of life.
You can check out his current band The Impersonators here:
And the music of his previous group Carmen Gray here: Spotify