Behold, before you is the third post in the From my readers series. Professor Batty and I go way back but he’s the captain of the Flippist Archives, a blog that’s been around since early 2004 and which I apparently was the direct inspiration for. Really, it says so on the website! The story behind that is too long to share here, though. His blog also keeps some vintage posts by yours truly (from ca. 2004) but back then I found them poetic and inspirational while now their callowness makes me cringe a little.
Anyway, the Flippist Archives has a lot of posts about Reykjavík along with photos taken on the Professor’s five trips to Iceland. He’s also one of the founders and contributors of Laxness in translation, a blog dedicated to the work of Halldór Laxness: one of Iceland’s finest authors and only Nobel prize winner. If you don’t know his works I recommend Independent People which is one of my favorite books ever. But today, the professor wants to tell you about another great Icelandic artist.
I heart Páll Óskar
Maður í bleikum pallíettujakkafötum getur ekki klikkað.
– Kristín Gróa
After five trips to Iceland in thirteen years, the biggest thrill I’ve had in Iceland was experiencing a concert by a singer who is almost unknown in the USA (there’s almost nothing available by him on US Amazon.) Yet he is probably the most beloved performer in Iceland. Children love him. Grandmothers smile and nod when his name is mentioned. People who are concerned about gay rights and human dignity look up to him. He was a child prodigy who grew into a versatile interpreter of many musical styles, had numerous pop hits and remains a creative force, both in music and Icelandic society. I’ve heard the phrase “national treasure” used to describe him on several occasions.
His name is Páll Óskar.
I’ve tried to describe him to my friends at home (Minnesota) but it just isn’t the same as being in the same room as THE MAN HIMSELF. There is a full length DVD of Páll with an orchestra available through Shop Icelandic, it was recorded last year in the new Harpa concert hall. In it Páll is his usual outrageous self, but when he starts to sing it gives me goosebumps. The DVD is very nice, but is not the same as seeing him in a sea of frenzied fans in a festival setting. I did manage to capture him at his peak on this video at the 2009 Airwaves. NOTE: The shaking of the camera is due to the energy of the crowd! For a completely different take, watch this version of the same song inHD (performed with his friend Monika) which was done for a children’s heart disease benefit.
Whenever I need a lift, I watch his video of Betra Líf, possibly the most uplifting pop song ever. It now has a bittersweet dimension, for it was released at the start of the Kreppa and produced for the bank BYR whose executives were later jailed for fraud.
Finally, if after you’ve read this and watched the videos and you’re still wondering what the quote means at the start of the article—look it up on Google translate. I think you’ll agree.