I know about Americans. Way too much, in fact. George Washington, Mister Rogers, even Lindsay Lohan. Everything. But what about Swedes? They have great healthcare, and ABBA was alright I suppose. But what else? Their public radio seems to be functioning well (I mean, if it plays dudes like Jens Lekman, it can’t be half bad, right?). You can tell a lot about a country through its radio. I’ve seen American Graffiti, so I know that Mexico pirated the airwaves over North America for many a years.
Now, Swedish radio. Do they syndicate the World Cafe with David Dye on every station? Or do Swedes opt for democratic variety? If I was the King of Sweden, we would know what they play and it’d be settled. (Now that you ask, I’d demand a constant loop of the best two hours of radio I’ve personally ever heard: 30 minutes of a live Elvis Costello concert, 20 minutes of early '90s dance music (Madonna, Ace of Bass, etc.), 40 minutes of David Dye and the World Cafe feat. M. Ward.) In Sweden, someday the government will mandate a station program just that, in perpetuity -- and I can milk free health care while basking alongside the Baltic Sea, Walkman tuned to David Dye.
And somewhere between Lohan, the Kind of Sweden, and an unhealthy obsession with David Dye is Jens Lekman. Swedish, young, beautiful, self-destructively reckless? Perhaps. Public radio savior? Maybe. Vier of affection and disseminator of charm? Possibly. Releaser of Night Falls over Kortedalaand tourer of cities? The world may never know.
New CD takes over Scandinavia, September 5; the rest of the world, October 9: