Opus One Number One

My girlfriend Marie’s apartment was little more than a medium-sized closet with a stove—and, yes, a small bathroom immediately to your right as you stepped in. That was about it. So small and cramped that you, as they say, had to step outside just to change your mind.

And warm. At times too. And it was in this warm, private heaven that I began writing Spain, my very first song.

And here comes confession time: The basic chord structure for the song itself is the same as (as in identical to) Evert Taube’s Stockholm Melody, whence I lifted it wholesale. Different melody, though. And, obviously, different words—though the words arrived almost two years later.

Evert Taube, by the way, and in my not necessarily humble opinion, is one of the best song writers this planet has ever seen (or heard). He played the lute (brilliantly) and wrote his beautiful lyrics in Swedish which more or less guaranteed that he would not gain a world-wide following. Also, he was born in 1890 (and died in 1976) which places his heyday in the early 1900s, way before our current instant international communication capabilities—to wit, the Internet. Several of my all-time favorite songs were written by this wonderful man who we all knew as “our own” troubadour when I grew up in northern Sweden. That said—

The instrumental opening to Spain, on the other hand, is actually of my own making. It’s a descending sequence that to this day (fifty-odd years later) still holds water for me; and at the time I was so happy with it (that is, self-impressed by it) that I actually, yes, I actually named it Opus One Number One—heralding the host of musical masterpieces to come. There was, however, never an Opus One Number Two nor an Opus Two on up.

Needless to say, I had a pretty solid opinion of myself (and of my talents) at the time and I’d play this sequence endlessly—probably wearing out its welcome with Marie’s ears, if not with mine.

The song itself took shape late 1969 during a train ride from Copenhagen to Casablanca which took me through Paris and France and farther south the Pyrenees and so into northern Spain and then all through this wonderful country to Algeciras in the very south (and thence, the ferry to Tangier).

Inspired by the views, I’d play Opus One Number One many times on that train to then segue into the Stockholm Melody sequence to then sprout melody and words.

I am still very happy with Spain, the song.


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