Fredrik by Säkert

Still from the video for Fredrik

Still from the video for Fredrik

It was my turn tonight at Swedish class to bring along a song, translate it, and for the class to discuss the lyrics. “Det var svårt”, I told my classmates when I presented them with the song Fredrik by the Swedish singer/song-writer, Säkert. The reason it was difficult, I told my classmates, was because there were a few slang words I couldn’t find anywhere in a dictionary, and because of the poetic nature of song lyrics.

The lyric concerns someone talking to their friend who is a bit of a non-conformist. In the associated video clip, it’s about a young girl relating to her young male friend, though the lyrics are a little more adult. Even now I’m not entirely sure if she’s supportive of her friend’s non-comformity (sometimes it feels like she admires it), or if she’s asking him to wake up to reality. It’s something I can’t hear or interpret from the performance or the lyrics. Still, I really like the song and I’ve had it on regular play over the last few weeks. It’s been quite a big hit in Sweden too. And my classmates liked it too.

Here’s my translation with a few corrections. It’s not a completely literal translation. I’ve taken some liberties. And it could probably do with a bit of further work. Anyone with better Swedish language skills than me – anyone in Sweden over the age of five – is welcome to contribute corrections/interpretations.

When humanity rots in a heap, everyone says “what’s best for me?” and “I buy bottled water” and “she doesn’t love you?”
I say: “Frederick, play the game”.
But you say “why should I? I don’t want to be loved in that way. You get nothing for it when you’re like us, when you have a restful soul.”
Should we start up a village?
Should we build something new?
Should we write a new Bible with ten new Commandments?
Can we be called something else, Fredrik?
Can we find somewhere else where you can be in charge and look after yourself?
They were fighting in town. There was some kind of drugs/heroin in the middle.
All were screaming “check them out” but you didn’t go into the middle.
You don’t do that this in this country.
You don’t talk to the wrong person.
You don’t like this band.
You don’t sing the right note.
(Oh, all the songs I’ve written for people aren’t worth a song
Oh, history is full of songs about people that shouldn’t get a song
You must crush hearts and start wars
You have to hurt/to be hurt to be in books
You have to be damaged for a song, a book, a painting.
Can I get a speech about me in the square?
Can we build something new? I do not know what “the new” is but its better than here and now, for one stops being hard.
Can you stop being hard?
Can you lean on someone?
Can you build a low stage, so you may see people in their eyes?
If it isn’t heaven Fredrik why were we born to please or to be kind?
These are my elbows Fredrik: I will sharpen them tonight
Give me a little stigma. Show me a sect/religion. Give me something to believe in when the lights are out.

  1. Hi James, I always find it funny and very difficult to translate songs, but I looked at your translation. Its good man !!
    I did some changes in CAPITAL, but thats just mine. Maybe you can not even say like that in english :-)
    //R

    When humanity rots in a heap,
    AND everyone JUST says “what’s best for me?” and “I buy bottled water”
    and “she doesn’t love you?”
    I say: “BUT, Frederik, play the game”.
    But you ONLY say “why should I?
    I don’t want to be loved in that way.
    You get nothing for it when you’re like us, YOU GET NOTHING BACK WHEN YOU WANT TO DO PEOPLE GOOD
    when you have a restful soul.”

    Should we start up a village?
    Should we build something new?
    Should we write a new Bible
    with ten new Commandments?
    Can we be called something else, Fredrik?
    Can we FIT IN SOMEWHERE
    where you can be in charge OF YOURSELF
    BUT DONT HAVE TO look after yourself?

    They were fighting in town.
    There was some kind of drugs in the middle.
    All were LAUGHING “check THESE ONES out”
    but you WAS ABOUT TO go into the middle.

    You don’t do that this in this country.
    You don’t START talk to the wrong person.
    You don’t like this band.
    You don’t START TO sing the right note.

    (Oh, all the songs I’ve written for people aren’t worth a song
    Oh, history is full of songs about people that shouldn’t get a song
    You must crush hearts and start wars
    You have HAVE hurted SOMEONE TO GET INTO THOSE books
    You have to be damaged TO GET a song, a book, a painting.

    Can I get a speech about me in the square?
    Can we build something new?
    I do not know what “the new” is
    but its better than THIS,
    IS IT OK TO stop being hard.
    IS IT OK TO lean on someone?
    COULD WE build a low stage,
    so you may see people in their eyes?

    If it isn’t a heaven Fredrik
    why were we born KIND?
    These are my elbows Fredrik:
    I will sharpen them tonight
    Give me SOME stigma.
    Show me a sect/religion.
    Give me something to believe in
    when the lights are out.

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    1. Thanks Roger for the translation tips. Much appreciated.

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      1. no problem James, I think its pretty impressive that you are so good in swedish, all the way downunder :-)
        And translating songs has always been a funny exercise, try one of Kent early songs, thats hard I think :-)

        //R

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  2. Aah, I love Säkert.

    Have you heard her English-language band, Hello Saferide? The songs are wonderful, and she’s without a doubt my favourite lyricist: her words are poetic, with the sweet turns of phrase unique to Scandinavian speakers of English. Each song is a wonderful short story: hopes for the child she could have had with her ex, waiting for a new lover to come back from a holiday, wishing she was a lesbian because she loves her best friend so damn much. Playful, everyday, lovely stuff.

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    1. Thanks for the tip Liam. I didn’t know she sang in English also. More musical exploration… :)

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  3. […] other day, my fellow Scandophile, Liam mentioned in a comment on my blog a Swedish band, Hello Saferide, who sing in English. […]

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