Sunday 4 – Monday 5 January 2015
It was announced towards the end of 2014 that my favourite band, Roxette, would be touring the world to celebrate a milestone anniversary. Marie Fredriksson and Per Gessle have been together as Roxette for thirty years. That’s right, 3-0 years. That’s longer than some people remain married. These days, thirty years in the music industry is a hell of a long time, especially when you consider that we live in a society that values disposable everything, music included. So, it’s a feat and a half that Marie and Per have lasted this long.
In the lead up to the global tour, a Roxette website has begun listing what they’ve labelled as ghost tracks – Roxette songs that perhaps aren’t as widely known or appreciated as some. Naturally, it spurred me on to write this post covering the Roxette songs over the last thirty years that I think are the best, my favourites, or underrated. This is a post that’s obviously geared towards people who actually like the band, but maybe I might help to broaden your musical world with these songs. 😉 And for some of you, it might be a trip down memory lane with some of these.
I do hope that Per Gessle, Marie Fredriksson, Mats ‘MP’ Persson, and Desmond Child don’t mind me quoting their lyrics, as through their publishing companies, they hold all copyright to the lyrics quoted below.
- Run To You (Gessle – Jimmy Fun Music) – this is a great song. The clip shows the band on tour, in hotel rooms, at sound checks, exiting hotels, at airports, and generally getting mobbed by rapid Roxette fans. But it’s not about the clip. It’s about the song. The melody is catchy, and the song opens with a really sweet series of chords, and yes, I learned to play the song. They taper off into Marie’s sublime voice: ‘Baby, sometimes I feel like dying, driving while I’m closing my eyes, moving in and out of hiding, trying to catch some truth in my life, watching your stars and your moonlight, come tumbling down from the sky.’ Cue the chorus, and then my favourite verse: ‘Sunday morning my town is sleeping, lying all alone in my bed, there’s not a sound I can’t help but listening, wishing I was somewhere else instead, but sometimes they’re too hard to handle, those voices inside my head, listen now!’ There’s a very cool little strings riff played behind the chorus that gives the song this upbeat feel to it, despite being somewhat lyrically blue.
- Milk And Toast And Honey (Gessle – HipHappy) – opens with a piano intro, a lil string biz, and a few doo doo doos. ‘Milk and toast and honey, make it sunny on a rainy Saturday, hey, hey, hey, milk and toast some coffee, take the stuffiness out of days you hate.’ Good ol’ Per conjures images of a Spring or Autumn morn for me with this song. Undeniably a fabulous song to me.
- You Don’t Understand Me (Gessle – HipHappy. Words & music P. Gessle & D. Child) – I’ve mentioned this song in a previous post, as I have with the first two on my list, I think. Co-written with the great Desmond Child, this song I believe is an underrated piece of brilliance from Roxette. When it was first released, I had it on constant repeat, and every mix CD that I made. Every. Single. Mix. CD. I love this song. I particularly like the second lead in to the chorus: ‘Tell me why, it gets harder to know where I stand, I guess loneliness found a new friend, here I am’. The chorus changes after a musical interlude: ‘You don’t understand me, my baby, you don’t seem to know that I need you so much, you don’t understand me, my feelings, the reason I’m breathing, my love. You don’t seem to get me, my baby, you don’t really see that I live for your touch, you don’t understand me, my dreams or the things I believe in, my love.’ With this song, a lot of what I really like is in the music, and the transitions from verse to chorus to verse. It’s a highly synthesised piece, and given that I spent many years learning the keyboard, it plays to what I like. It’s as if Per and Desmond wrote this song for me. And I have to say that I also like the ‘artsy’ video clip for this song too.
- A Thing About You (Gessle – Jimmy Fun Music) – a song from The Ballad Hits compilation album. It’s a classic Roxette arrangement that operates with Per singing the verses and Marie belting out the chorus. And who hasn’t had ‘a thing about’ someone else?
- Almost Unreal (Gessle – Jimmy Fun Music) – from the ‘Super Mario Bros’ movie soundtrack. I love this song because Marie drives it, with Per providing support in the chorus and a little bridge towards the end of the song. It was also the song I chose to sing at uni when we had to do a musical theatre unit, and our lecturer, George White, told us the first thing he wanted us to do was sing in front of our fellow class members so that there would be no excuse as to why we wouldn’t contribute to musical numbers in tutorials. Apparently, my classmates were pleasantly surprised because no one actually knew that I could sing.
- Go To Sleep (Gessle – Jimmy Fun Music Words P. Gessle, Music M. Fredriksson) – a lot of Roxette lyrics have quirky lil bits in them, much like this song. ‘And life’s a tough principal, who won’t reward the losers, your name is on the tea cup, there’s nothing I can do’ is a perfect example of quirky. However, the chorus is sweet: ‘But to wish you’d think about me, before you go to sleep, and I wish you the best there is, before you go to sleep’. This song has always reminded me of a lullaby, and perhaps that’s how it was intended – for the children of those in the band.
- I Don’t Want To Get Hurt (Gessle – Jimmy Fun Music) – piano and synthesiser opening, and Marie’s beautiful voice. ‘In everything I see you appear with me, how come? How come? And everything I do involves you too, we are like one, in my life there has been so many changes, and I don’t want to be left out in the rain’ leads into the chorus, ‘And I don’t want to get hurt, I’ve done my time, all I want from you is to tell the truth, I don’t want to get hurt no more this time . . . ’ Add into the song some strings, and they’ve got me again because strings make me very, very
- Reveal (Gessle – Jimmy Fun Music) – this song kills me . . . in a good way, of course. It starts off with an oboe intro. Oh, dear God, I’m a sucker for an oboe in a song. Basic synths, drums, and bass, with Marie’s vocals, background vocals harmonising with Marie, and a simple lyric – bliss. ‘Everything here, close to me, is just the way, I want it to be, it’s all about faith, it’s all about trust, all about luck, and all about lust, my wish comes true, my wish comes true, I don’t mind showing for you, I reveal everything for you, just about anything’.
- Speak To Me (Gessle) – funky synth intro, drums come in, followed by bass, and the Per’s vocals. Cue Marie to provide background vocals in the verses and belt out the chorus. ‘Speak to me with tenderness, speak to me with gracefulness, speak to me with happiness and love. Speak to me in loneliness, speak to me in bitterness, speak to me in faithlessness with love.’ Chorus: ‘You want to hide when you’re alone, where do you run to when you’re on your own? You’re looking to find some peace of mind, but nothing’s in sight at the end of the line.’ The chorus does undergo a couple of changes throughout the song, and a couple of lines that I think are really evocative include, ‘That dream in the dark just sank like a stone, that voice in your heart, it won’t come to the phone’. Yep, it’s got that quirkiness to it.
- The Sweet Hello, The Sad Goodbye (Gessle – Jimmy Fun Music) – never released as a single until recently when a Bassflow remake was made. The song dates back to the days when singles had a couple of extra songs on the CD, and it was another song that was on almost permanent rotation in my car on the way to uni. It’s the music that slaps me about the head and screams ‘Listen’ every time I hear it. Mind you, I do like the chorus: ‘We’re very much the same you and I, the sweet hello the sad goodbye, still waiting to get hurt time after time, the sweet hello the sad goodbye, when love lies in our hands, we seem to run and hide, and I can’t help but wonder why, the sweet hello the sad goodbye’. Lots of drum machines and synths in this one.
- Things Will Never Be The Same (Gessle – Jimmy Fun Music) – ‘Lay it down, pull my heart to the ground, time’s getting cold, now the leaves all turn hard and blue. And I know, when I gaze to the sun, no place to hide, I got nowhere to run from you, away from you’ just love these lyrics. Just love this song. When Roxette deliver this one in concert, it is an acoustic number. On the album Joyride it’s electric, and the acoustic version shocked me the first time I heard it, way back in 1991 when I went to my first Roxette concert at the end of my final year exams. It shocked me because I loved the electric version so much, but when I heard it acoustically, it may have made me teary.
- The Voice (Gessle – Jimmy Fun Music) – heard this one at the end of my very first Roxette concert video, over the end credits, and then as an extra on the Fingertips Sung by Marie, it is still one of the songs that I can’t wait to hear. Big drums, big bass, twanging guitars, and synths! Lyrically, melodically, and arrangement-wise, this is beautiful. ‘Between the open heart, and the whisper goodbye, there’s a perfect teardrop in your eye, between the lover’s moon, and the trembling sky, there’s a broken dream in your mind. And your voices carry, the love you have lost, and the change of heart, in someone you trust, yeah the voices carry, the love and the scars, hear the lonely voice in the dark. Between the careful touch, and the breakaway kiss, there’s a beauty you can’t resist, Mmm between the fall apart, and the moment of bliss, there must be something more than this’.
Other highly recommended Roxette songs: Chances, Surrender, (Do You Get) Excited?, Beautiful Things, Breathe, Fading Like A Flower (Every Time You Leave), How Do You Do!, I’m Sorry, It Hurts, It Will Take A Long Time, Listen To Your Heart, My World, My Love, My Life, Perfect Day, Queen Of Rain, The Rain, Salvation, Spending My Time, Stars, Watercolours In The Rain, What’s She Like?, and Silver Blue.
The thing about Roxette songs for me is that I really find it difficult to say that I just don’t like one. Oh, don’t get me wrong, there are a few that don’t do a thing for me, but I still know all of the lyrics to them anyway. I also find it incredibly difficult to pick only a few that I really like. There are memories attached to many, many Roxette songs. Roxette provided the soundtrack to my formative teenage years, and therefore, the songs and the band are still significant to me. Even when it wasn’t cool to like the band, I still loved Roxette. Since I discovered the band, there’s never been a year when I haven’t listened to a Roxette album. I’ve seen two concerts in my home state, and I flew to Sydney a few years ago to see them just in case it was the last time they toured as a band.
Unfortunately though, I won’t be going to any of the Australian shows when Roxette do their XXX anniversary tour this year. And if I’m brutally honest, the more I think about that, the sadder I feel. It’s like not being around for a friend who has been in my life, through thick and thin.
Roxette really has been with me for most of my life. I’ve belted out Roxette songs at the top of my voice. I’ve turned the volume almost all the way up whilst I’ve been driving in my car. I’ve annoyed the hell out of my neighbours with loud Roxette on repeat when I was a teenager. I’ve blasted my own eardrums with Roxette numbers on my iPod. I’ve just about worn out Roxette videos and DVDs. I’ve worn Roxette concert T-shirts until they’ve worn thin, and succumbed to holes in the fabric. And I’ve sung along with Marie and Per at three Roxette concerts over the years. Every. Damn. Song.
So, Roxette, from me to you – I hope that the XXX anniversary tour is hugely successful, that Roxette fans show you the love and respect that you deserve for having given us so many incredible songs over the last thirty years, and that Roxette’s music lives on . . . forever.
Yep, slight fan-girl post here. What can I say? I love Roxette.
Long live Roxette!
And do check out the Roxette website: www.roxette.se
P.S. If any of you actually know Per or Marie, or any of the members of the band . . . or crew . . . or management . . . or lawyers, publicists, anyone who even remotely works with them, please . . . let them know I’m a huge fan!! 😉