The man in the white hat.

It all started on a winter’s day, February 2007. I was stranded – out of my own accord – in a Norwegian hamlet called Kjellmyra for ten days, sleeping on the floor of my friend Eirik (from Wintermare) in their lovely little apartment with a gorgeous view (huge glass window! yeah!) on snowy hills. It was approximately -15°C outside, and on days he was busy at work and I’d come back from lonely walks early, I mostly sat around (what a surprise) listening to music. One day, flipping through his records, I came across Du Och Jag Döden (translates literally to “You and I, Death”) by Kent. For anyone who doesn’t know the band, Kent is one of Sweden’s (good) “Superstar” rock bands. They mostly sing in Swedish, which I sort of admire because as a Norwegian (at heart, anyway) I dislike Swedish very much – haha – and yet, I’m able to sit through a whole Kent album occasionally even singing along. Well, my first (and up until 2007, last) memory of Kent is from 2000 or 2001, when I picked up more or less randomly Hagnesta Hill in the dollar bin at some record store. Listened to it, somewhat liked it, and then dismissed it. And forgot about the band, actually, until that day in my friend’s bedroom, when I carefully looked at a disturbing album cover with a skeleton playing chess. Put it in. Press play.

Almost nothing stirred in me. Or rather, little did, until the album got to the last song: Mannen i den vita hatten. And I don’t know why, but all of a sudden I felt something rather wonderful, even though I could hardly understand any of the sung Swedish – I felt like there was a message hidden in there that spoke to me. The intro has a nostalgic vibe to it, and as the chorus kicks in it’s a little like being thrown into outer space. The whole song is concentrated around the climax, where everything crashes and explodes before it ends into the most beautiful lines:

Jag är livrädd för att leva
Och jag är dödsrädd för att dö
Men älskling, vi ska alla en gång dö

(I am terrified to live
and I’m scared to death of dying
But darling, we shall all die someday)

Absolute love for this song. I don’t care how bad some of their albums might have been, don’t care about their attitude or even about the fact that they are swedish and look like A-Ha. This song is amazing and addictive.

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