Povel Ramel

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Povel Ramel
Birth name Povel Karl Henrik Ramel
Born (1922-06-01)June 1, 1922
Östermalm, Stockholm, Sweden
Died June 5, 2007(2007-06-05) (aged 85)
Lidingö, Sweden
Genres Vaudeville
Occupations Singer, musician, writer
Instruments Vocals, piano
Years active 1939–2007
Labels Pygmé Musikförlag

Baron Povel Karl Henric Ramel ([ˈpoːvɛl ˈɾamɛl] ( ); June 1, 1922 - June 5, 2007) was a Swedish entertainer. Ramel was a singer, pianist, vaudeville artist, author and a novelty song composer. His style was characterized by imaginative wit, both verbal and musical.[1] He took inspiration from US and UK 'crazy' style humor and created his own personal Swedish version, unusual combinations of lyrics and music, word play, pastiche and general unexpectedness. He wrote approximately 1700 songs, skits and monologues, and he is regarded as a legend and an institution in Swedish entertainment.[2]

Povel Ramel (second from left) and Hans Alfredson (third from left) being hosted by a student association at Lund University in 1999.

Early life[edit]

Povel Ramel was born in Östermalm, Stockholm into an affluent noble family. His father, Karl Ramel, was a lawyer. At a young age, Ramel found a loving audience for his talents in the family nurses, maids and cooks, and also his parents. His family often went on extensive holidays, and on such an occasion, on a beach in Belgium, when Povel was two years old he stepped on a nail. With the wound infected Povel was not expected to survive, although he recovered, with a slight permanent injury.

Ramel's school-life was troubled. He cut classes, often going to Skansen, an open air museum and zoo, favouring their monkey house. To avoid getting into trouble, Ramel told his teachers that he had lost his attendance book, thereby getting a new one, while showing his parents the old one, free from absence remarks. However, one day his father spotted Ramel visiting the monkey house. Subsequently, his father tried sending Ramel to various schools, but with little success.

At the age of 15, Ramel accompanied his parents on a car trip. There was a collision and Ramel's mother, Märta Tesch, died the following day in hospital. His father died a few months later.

Career[edit]

After his parents' death, Ramel was raised by his paternal aunt, who recognised his artistic potential. He went to art school, but his infatuation with painting did not last. However he developed a love for playing the piano and for words, as he became inspired by musicians such as Bing Crosby, Fats Waller, British trumpeter Nat Gonella, Spike Jones and British dance band leader Harry Roy. Entering Aftonbladet's talent hunt, Vi som vill opp in 1939, Ramel sang and yawned his own composition, "En sömnig serenad" ("A Sleepy Serenade"). By this time Ramel was already a prolific songwriter. His aunt wrote the lyrics to one of his songs, "En vår utan dig" ("A Spring Without You"), which he recorded. Ramel's lyrics are noted for their humor and dramatic wordplay. Musically he was able to adopt styles from most types of music for his own purposes.

Later, when called to do his military service, his foot condition kept him out of active duty, and he was given an administrative role. When studying the military code, he learned that most everything was forbidden. But, with no rules to be found against Boogie Woogie Walzes,he dutifully wrote Johanssons boogie-woogie-vals, the song that was later to become his first hit.

STIM (a musical copyright agency) required the record have a label banning its airplay. As a result, the sales were minimal. Then a friend at the record company sent a copy with the label pulled off to Radiotjänst (The Swedish Broadcasting Corporation), and the sales jumped. Ramel was hired by Radiotjänst in 1945, which ushered in a new era of radio entertainment. With several series of innovative radio shows featuring the crazy style of humor, he became a household name in Sweden.

Knäppupp[edit]

In 1952 Ramel and Felix Alvo started the Knäppupp AB (Unbutton Inc.) company. The Knäppupp vaudeville shows were popular with Swedish audiences.[1] His first vaudeville show was "Akta Huvet" ("Mind Your Head") and Ramel made his entrance hanging from a cable over the auditorium. The show opened at the Cirkus theatre in Gothenburg in 1952. Knäppupp AB also produced a number of movies, such as Ratataa in 1956. Ramel also had several pub shows such as, "Karamelodier". "Karamelodier" is one of Ramel's typical puns, as the word karamelodier is a combination of the words "karamell" (bon-bon), "Ramel" and "melodier" (melodies).

Some of his most famous songs[edit]

  • Johanssons boogie woogie vals (Johansson's Boogie Woogie Waltz)
  • Måste vägen till Curaçao gynga så (Why must the Boat to Curaçao sway like this)
Gynga is a broken Swedish version of Gunga (Swing/Sway)
This song was written by Povel on the M/S San Blas, in a storm, and sung at the stage in San Blas later.
  • Släkt-huset (The Family House, mocking "the old family fam" theme)
  • Högt uppe på berget (High up on the Mountain)
Swedish language version of On Top of Old Smoky
  • Far, jag kan inte få upp min kokosnöt (Daddy, I Can't Break Open my Coconut)
Swedish language version of I've Got a Lovely Bunch of Coconuts, featured in My Life as a Dog
  • Skratt (Laughs)
Presented with some "laughing types" as the engineer's laugh "Hoho hooooooooo" (Like a steam whistle), "ping-pong laugh" Ha-ha-ha-ha-ha-ha
  • Nya Skrytvalsen (The New Bragging Waltz)
  • Tjo va de va livat i holken i lördags (Whoopee Whatta Bustle in the Nesting Box last Saturday)
  • Naturbarn (Children of Nature)
  • Är det nån som har en våning åt mej? (Anyone Got an Apartment for me?)
  • Sorglösa brunn (Carefree Spa, a play based on his time in "Källviks brunn" in Loftahammar)
  • Varför är där ingen is till punschen? (Why no Ice with the Punsch?, mocking the "good old days" theme)
  • De sista entusiasterna (The Last Enthusiasts)
  • Karl Nilsson
  • Det skulle aldrig delfinerna göra (That, the Dolphins Would Never do)
A song about the fact that no dolphin would ever become a singer, as they are (as sung by Ramel) all too smart.
  • Jag diggar dig (I dig you)
Anticipating rap music.
  • While he almost exclusively worked in Swedish language, he has written at least one song in English, "The Sukiyaki Syndrome", about a visit to a Japanese restaurant, and others with a brief English introduction such as "Birth of the Gammeldans".

References to current events[edit]

Ramel was not interested in political satire or in lampooning public figures, and only a few of his songs refer to current events. There are a few exceptions:

  • En tillräckligt stor summa pengar (A sum of money big enough) - 2005–2006
    • In this recent song there are some references, for example: Gamla kapare som Ford och Rockefeller, har seglats om av kapten Gates (But old capers like Ford and Rockefeller, have been sailed past by Captain Gates)
  • The Nej Tack Jump (The No Thanks Jump) (No to Nuclear Power)
    • He sings: Barsebäck, Forsmark, Ringhals, Oskarshamn, (Swedish nuclear power stations) yes, we do like you. But the brooding striped blocks you've build, you should scrap as soon as possible.
      • Ramel has later explained that he did not state whether he was in favour of nuclear power or not. Many asked him to write this kind of song and he did, without expressing his own opinion.

Karamelodiktstipendiet[edit]

In 1983 Ramel founded Karamelodiktstipendiet, a prize annually awarded to a Swedish entertainer or group of entertainers. It is intended for renewers of the Swedish language or related musical advances. The prize was presented by Ramel in Hagaparken in Stockholm. The name of the prize is a pun similar to the one described above, referring to "karamell" and Ramel; "dikt" means poem and "stipendie" scholarship. Thus the recipient is not only awarded a monetary prize, but also a bag of candy and a poem written by Ramel himself. After the ceremony everyone is offered fried pigeon, which most guests politely abstain from eating. The prize, according to the founder, is enough to make the recipient economically independent, at least for the rest of the day (it was 20.000 SEK until 2007 when it was increased to 25.000 SEK).

The 2007 ceremony was led by Ramel's children Mikael and Lotta, due to their father being confined to his home after heart surgery.

Holders:

Bibliography[edit]

Povel Ramel wrote a number of books, his first in 1945, though his main focus was always on his music. Here is a list of his books (not including the many book of lyrics that he published):

Från Asar till Wasar[edit]

In this book, Ramel presents himself as an 'eternity-human', born in the ice age. He describes the history of Sweden "as it was" from the old Norse "Asar"-gods to Gustav Vasa. He also has some 'eternity-friends' and an 'eternity-dog' called Missräkningen (The miscalculation).

Min galna hage[edit]

  • (My Looney Pasture), 1957.

Ramel's pasture is said to have corners. 5 of them. It is a crazy pasture.

This book has sections, called corners. These are:

  • Poetiska hörnet (The poetry corner)
  • * Poems written by a fictional lady called Ewa Sophi Drömmington
  • De smås hörn (The tiny ones' corner)
  • * Some stories about Little Huno and his 36 siblings, for example Lille Päron (Little Pear) whom all the siblings used to hit because he liked it
  • Blandade Hörnet (The mixed corner)
  • * Includes a part from Från Asar till Wasar and some other mixed writings.
  • Makabra Hörnet (The macabre corner)
  • * Among others, a story about a girl who loved the colours black and red, and therefore bit her own family to see red blood.
  • * * Povel wrote here: 'Don't read this if you already doubt my mental sanity!'
  • Helraspiga hörnet (Completely crazy corner)
  • * Stories Den trasiga middagen (The broken dinner), about Det Lilla Polki (The Little Polki) Far och Pappa (Father and Dad) and some other strange characters such as Onkel Zebraton från Afrika (Uncle Zebraton from Africa), Farbror Flicka (Uncle Girl) and Bästekock Lortig (Best-cook Dirty), whom after the third time slipped on a ratshell and became lying and stopping potatoes.
  • * * This corner also includes a dictionary with strange definitions of words

Knäppupplevelser[edit]

  • (Knäppupp experiences, the upp is used both for Knäppupp and Upplevelser), 1976

This book is about the time of Knäppupp. It came with a vinyl album with the same name, and is really hard to find today.

Lingonben[edit]

  • (Lingonberry legs), 1978.

This is a lyric book with some famous songs (like Naturnbarn, and Johansson's boogie woogie vals) and some less well known songs by Ramel (As Balladen Om Kung Styggfrid {The Ballad about King Wickedfrid})

Tänk dej en strut karameller[edit]

  • (Imagine a cone of bon-bons), 1981

With sheet music to many of Ramel's most popular songs. The title is also the title of one of Ramel's songs.

Min ordkynniga penna[edit]

  • (My word-capricious pen), 1987.

This includes some random poems and writings of Ramel, as "How to Convince an American Businessman"

Vanliga palsternackan för gottegrisar[edit]

  • (The ordinary parsnip for sweet teeth)

Vanliga palsternackan is a play on the famous Swedish almanac, Vanliga Almanackan (The ordinary almanac) It includes some strange ideas such as a list of kings who died from overeating (with space to keep the list up-to-date) This book was co-written with Hans Alfredson

Följ mej bakåt vägen, Povels Livs-stycken del 1[edit]

  • (Walk with me back along the road, Ramel's "life-parts" part 1), 1992.

This begins with Ramel's youth and ends when he married his wife in 1949. He describes many things of his life, such as when he, as a child, cut big holes in his clothes, to find out what it was like to be poor! Ramel choose to not call the book his 'memoarer' (memoirs), as that would sound too boring! "Följ mej bakåt vägen" is also a title of one of Ramel's songs.

Förflerade Lingonben[edit]

  • Increased Lingonberry legs), 1992

This is a longer edition of Lingonben with some well known and less well known unknown songs.

It has been reprinted many times, most recently in 1997.

Som om inget hade hänt, Povels Livs-stycken del 2[edit]

  • (As if nothing had happened, Povel's "life-parts" part 2), 1999

This is Ramel's 'life-parts' part two, including the Knäppupp years, which includes a section from the book Knäppupplevelser.

Djur I Dur[edit]

  • (Animals in major key), 2001

This book includes a CD and sheet music to some new and some old songs about animals. especially those poor animals that never had a song written about them, such as Acke Asgam (Acke Carrion Vulture), Gary Gråsugga (Gary Isopoda) and Tvigge Tvestjärt (Tvigge Earwig) who crawled far into grannie's ear.

Upcoming: Povels "life-parts" part 3[edit]

Ramel is said to have almost completed this book.

The Knäppupps[edit]

  • 1952 - Knäppupp 1: Akta Huvet (This means both 'watch out for your head' and 'mind your head'. It was because Ramel entered the show on a cable over the crowd in Circus in Gothenburg, crying "Watch Out! Here comes Grandfather!")
  • 1953 - Djuprevyn: 2 meter (The deep-vaudeville, 2 metre)
  • 1954-55 - Knäppupp 2: Denna sida upp (This side up)
  • 1955-56 - Spectacle
  • 1956-67 - Knäppupp 3: Tillstymmelser (Suggestions)
  • 1958-59 - Funny Boy
  • 1960-61 - Alla 4 (All 4) [The summer version was called Semestersångarna (The vacation singers)]
  • 1961-62 - I hatt och strumpa (Wearing a hat and a sock)
  • 1962-63 - Dax igen (It's time again)
  • 1963-64 - Ryck mej i snöret (Pull my string)
  • 1964-65 - Ta av dej skorna (Take your shoes off)
  • 1966-67 - På avigan (The wrong way around)
  • 1968 - De sista entusiasterna (The last enthusiasts)

Other revues[edit]

The year of the opening is listed. Normally the revues stayed in production for two years, but, for example, Pratstund med Povel only stayed 1 year.

  • 1969 - The POW-Show I (Pow = Povel och Wenche {Povel and Wenche})
  • 1971 - Vid Pianot P. Ramel (At the Piano P. Ramel)
  • 1972 - Karamellodier (Karamell = Caramel/Candy. Ramel = Ramel. Melodier = Melodies.)
  • 1973 - Povel på Berns (Povel at Berns)
  • 1974 - The POW-Show II, Andra Varvet Runt (The second round around)
  • 1979 - Povel på Maxim (Povel at Maxim)
  • 1981 - Minspiration (Min = My. Inspiration = Inspiration.)
  • 1984 - Povel på Berns 2, The Sukiyaki Syndrome.
  • 1989 - Tingel Tangel på Tyrol (Tinsel and Glitter at Tyrol), with Margaretha Krook and Hans Alfredson
  • 1991 - Återbesök i Holket (Re-visit in the birdhouse)
  • 1992 - Knäpp Igen (Re-Button or Crazy Again)
  • * Knäpp can mean Crazy or button!
  • 1996 - Kolla Klotet (Look the Earth!) with Tomas von Brömssen
  • 2000 - Som om inget hade hänt (As if nothing had happened), with Wenche Myhre and Putte Wickman
  • 2001 - Ramelodia Lusticana
  • 2003 - Some like it i höet (Höet = the hay) (With Lasse Brandeby, Maria Lundqvist and Lill-Babs)
  • 2004 - Pratstund med Povel (Chat with Povel)
  • 2005 - Förnyad Povelpratstund, nu med musik! (Renewed Povel-chat, now with music!)
  • 2006 and spring 2007 - Povel à la carte

Filmography - Selected examples[edit]

  • I dur och skur (As a play on 'I ur och skur', meaning 'In snow and rain', meaning 'always'. Dur means Major key) 1953
  • I rök och dans (In smoke and dance) 1954 (Wordplay on 'Smoke and Dust')
  • In 1955 he was supposed to make Afrikafilmen (The Africa Movie), and some scenes were recorded, for example one where Ramel and Yngve Gamlin are riding a hippopotamus. War broke out in the country, so he never completed the film.
  • Hoppsan! (Whoops!) 1955
  • Ratataa eller Staffan Stolle Story (Ratataa or Staffan Stolle Story). (Staffan Stalledräng is a famous Swedish Christmas song, "stolle" means fool) 1956.
  • Den store amatören (The big amateur) 1958

Radio Shows[edit]

  • 1946 - Föreningen för flugighetens främjande (The society for promotion of flyism)
  • 1949 - Jakten på Johan Blöth (The hunt for John Wet) - "Blöth" is an older form of the word "blöt", meaning wet
  • 1950 - Herr Hålms öden och Angantyr (Mister Hålms [pronounced Holmes] fate and Angantyr)
  • * Öden och Angantyr is a play on the often used Öden och Äventyr (Fates and Adventures)
  • 1953 - Rameldags (Ramel-Time)
  • * Probably a play on gammaldags, meaning old-fashioned
  • 1955 - När Schlagern dog (When the Schlager died)

Television[edit]

  • 1965 - Ramel I Rutan (Ramel on the Screen)
  • 1977 - Semlons gröna dalar (The green valleys of Semlon)
  • 1986 - Affären Ramel (has the dual meaning of "The Ramel Shop" and "The Ramel Affair")

Povel Ramel at Allsång på Skansen[edit]

At Allsång på Skansen, on June 27, 2006, Povel sang many of his well-known songs to a melody of a different well-known song. A quite uncommon way of rendering old songs!

The whole song (preceded by a version of Side by side performed by Povel on piano) may be heard at Sveriges Television's webpage here. The recording lasts 9 minutes 41 seconds.

References[edit]

  1. ^ a b Nationalencyklopedin article about Ramel
  2. ^ "Varför skulle nån köpa en zebra?" Interview in Dagens Nyheter 2 November 2006, retrieved 12 June 2011

External links[edit]