general · language · me

The Art of (Finnish) Music

There’s a Finnish song that says that when the guitar plays, you can’t cry (= you’re not allowed to). And truly, it’s very difficult to feel very unhappy when that song plays. It’s called “The guitar, the sky and the stars”, and it’s probably one of my favorite songs in Finnish. Here’s what Wikipedia says about the band, Eppu Normaali:

Eppu Normaali is one of the most popular rock bands in Finland. The band formed in 1976 in Ylöjärvi, a small town near Tampere. The band is the best-selling music artist in Finland, with certified sales surpassing 1.5 million records, and it has also gained success especially in the use of the Finnish language in rock lyrics.

The song is about a guy who plays his electric guitar, and says that electricity is all he need, just so he can play his guitar. Even though he plays it so hard the cords break, the audience just laughs and he goes on playing, until the end of the song. Creating the sky and the stars above him as he plays.
The singer and the guitarist of the band are sons of (probably the most famous) Finnish poet Kirsi Kunnas, whose poem Sentimental Hedgehog I translated once here on the blog. The band has other great songs too, and I particularly like the names of some of them (Salty Rain, Stains on a Paper, I Flew Low, etc…)

Anyways… Why am I blogging about this? Not only because it’s a great song (and I feel sorry for all those who will never be able to understand the lyrics of any Finnish songs, because they have a certain feel to them that just grabs you by the soul and never lets go), or because every time I hear it I remember a Finnish TV show of kids competing against each other in singing, in which one little boy with dark sunglasses on sang the song, waving from side to side all through the song. Yay for Finnish TV!

No, I’m writing about this because it reminded me of something I thought about some time ago already. I’ve heard many people say and read many people write that poetry would be the highest form of art. Well, if you judge by which one is the most difficult to understand without much specified education, perhaps.
But for me, the highest form of art is music. It more or less includes all the others, too, if you think about it; poetry is there, or if not exactly poetry, literature, in the form of the lyrics. It tells a story, usually, just as literature or movies or photographs, or even paintings. And often the melody, or the music in general, or the voice of the singer (one of the most important parts in music, for me) can create an emotion in the ‘audience’ more efficiently than any picture or text could.

For example.
I’m Finnish, and I love my country. This is one of the strongest truths I carry, and whoever knows me, knows this about me. I’m not exactly shy about it. Anyways. When I see a painting, such as the Wounded Angel, or read a book like The Unknown Soldier, I get a feeling of national pride. When I see images of Finnish nature, I get a horrible longing to be there. But when I hear this song… Well, I get goosebumps, I want to get wasted on Finnish beer (which I don’t even like) and run naked in a lake after a torturingly hot sauna, while screaming my lungs out. Or alternatively sink myself naked in freezing cold snow, after a torturingly hot sauna.
At least I don’t feel the urge to sit on an ants’ nest or start throwing around my Nokia, but maybe I’ll get there in a couple of years.

“Music is what feelings sound like.”
Or sunshine, I have one song on my mp3 that makes me feel like sunshine’s on my face even though it’s raining horribly outside.

// What the song I linked there says, is in the lines of “On the Finnish land, in the Finnish language, men (as in badass/dude/tough guy) yell like the devil itself, and when Finland plays hockey, it strikes every guy, so put some beer in the machine and let’s off to hunt some capercaillies.” (chorus)


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