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Music: Carl Michael Bellman

Tycker du att graven är för djup? Nå välan, så tag dig då en sup.
(Do you think your grave is too deep? Very well, then take a drink.
->— Fredmans epistel n:o 21

Carl Michael Bellman was an 18th century Swedish songwriter, and is still considered by many to be Sweden's greatest poet... EVER. Even if one thinks he has been surpassed later on, he fills the same role in Swedish music and poetry as Shakespeare does in English theatre: every later practicioner will have a relation to him. His main works are the Songs of Fredman (Fredmans sånger) and the Epistles of Fredman (Fredmans epistlar), each including some 70 songs, many of which are about four major forces that ruled 18th century Stockholm; angst, lust, booze and death.

Most of Bellman's songs are narrative stories, revolving around a group of characters living in 18th century Stockholm. Also the songs are often quite humorous, so they are kind of like episodes of a sitcom. However, a lot of the humour comes out of a Cognitive Dissonance that isn't apparent today, in the way he mixed Biblical figures with drunkenness and lewdness, causing several scandals during his life. In a way, his social and artistic experimentation was so successful that we later on can't easily see the humour intended.

Bellman's songs are still very much a living part of Swedish culture. Many contemporary musicians (including Candlemass and Marduk) have recorded versions of one or more of his songs, and you can still hear some of his songs sung by rowdy partyers if you stroll through Stockholm's Old Town late at night.

These are the most common characters that are being used in Bellman's works (mainly the Epistles of Fredman)

Fredman is a watchmaker "without workshop or clocks".

Movitz is an Army bugler by day and virtuoso of many instruments by night. Fredman's constant companion and old drinking buddy.

Ulla Winblad is a "seamstress" and the target of Fredman's mostly unwanted affections.

Jergen Puckel (Jergen Hump) is a humpbacked German, dancer, gambler, and womanizer.


Bellman, his music and his writings contain examples of:

  • All Women Are Lustful: Pretty much all of Bellman's female characters, with a few noteable exceptions; Susanna, for example.
  • Bad Ass: Lorenz Mollberg
  • Bawdy Song: Bellman defines this trope, while still keeping his songs very artistic and beautiful. This versatility is what many people consider to be why his songs are so popular.
  • Bilingual Bonus: Linguistic skills was the ne plus ultra of the scholastic or educated mind at the time. Bellman has mixed in at least German, French, and Danish phrases in his songs.
  • Boisterous Bruiser: In Bellman's world, this is a Polish national trait. In fact, he describes several wild nights with the phrase "drank, fought and danced like a Polishman".
  • Chivalrous Pervert: Every single male character.
  • Deal with the Devil: Jergen apparently signs over his soul to the Devil once every two years.
  • Drowning My Sorrows: Pretty much every character in the songs, Movitz in particular though.
  • Everybody Has Lots of Sex
  • Everyone Looks Sexier If French: Jergen Puckel (though technically he's half-German).
  • Juxtaposition Gag. Used frequently.
    • In Glimmande Nymf, the original text goes from classical references to panic to comic disaster during a sex act.
    • In Gubben Noach and other songs the patriarchs of the Bible are portayed as lewd drunkards.
  • My Girl Is a Slut: Ulla Winblad
  • No Sex Allowed: So averted...
  • The Alcoholic: Almost all the characters of the songs, and Bellman himself.
  • Wretched Hive: Stockholm