A screenshot from 'Copenhagen' by Lucinda Williams. Screenshot: YouTube
It should come as little surprise that a long list of Danish artists have penned songs about their beloved home country. From iconic rock band Gasolin's 'Langebro' and 'Rabalderstræde' to the sorely missed reggae singer Natasja's 'Gi' mig Danmark tilbage', there are no shortage of Danish-language songs that have earned a special place in the hearts of Danes.
But what if you were to remove the obvious choices and search for the best songs about Denmark that aren't in Danish? The Local decided to do just that and scoured the web for the best tracks. Here are the ten songs we came up with, in no particular order. Do you have a favourite we should have included? Let us know in the comments below.
1. Danny Kaye – 'Wonderful Copenhagen'
This song is included in the 1952 Hollywood musical film Hans Christian Andersen, in which Danny Kaye portrays the famous Danish writer. 'Wonderful Copenhagen' is one of the film's most famous songs of the film, even though the pronunciation of the Danish capital as Cope-en-HAH-gen has long since been replaced by Cope-en-HAY-gen.
2. Tom Waits – 'Tom Traubert’s Blues (Four Sheets to the Wind in Copenhagen)'
The American musician Tom Waits wrote 'Tom Traubert’s Blues' as the opening track of his album Small Change released in 1976. The lyrics narrate Waits's alcohol abuse and experiences in Los Angeles and Copenhagen. The subtitle ‘Four Sheets to the Wind in Copenhagen’ refers to the time he spent in Copenhagen while on tour in 1976, where Waits met Danish singer and violinist Mathilde Bondo. The song is also known as 'Waltzing Matilda'.
3. Lucinda Williams – 'Copenhagen'
'Copenhagen' is the veteran country singer Lucinda Williams first-ever music video, released in 2011. 'Copenhagen’ is a sad song about the death of William’s manager, Frank Callari, while Williams was on tour in Denmark in 2007. The animated video features scenes of Nyhavn and even a conference sign for 'Avancerede Robotteknik Akademi for Forskere' – an impressive use of Danish considering Williams sings about “hearing unfamiliar laughs and lovely language I don't understand” while in the Danish capital.
4. Sun Kil Moon – 'UK Blues'
The folk rock American singer Mark Kozelek, aka Sun Kil Moon, works in references to both Aarhus and Copenhagen in this song before concluding that in Denmark “everybody's white, everyone rides bikes”. The nation gets off pretty lightly compared to Bristol, where Kozelek bemoans all the “people missing teeth”.
5. Sods – 'Copenhagen'
Sods is widely viewed as the first Danish punk band. Formed in the Danish capital in 1977, Sods would later rename themselves Sort Sol and are still going strong today. Their track Copenhagen comes from the 1979 release Minutes to Go and the sparse lyrics reference “city centre boredom” and “leather jackets shootin’ daddies”.
6. John Grant – 'Queen of Denmark'
'Queen of Denmark' is the title track of American singer-songwriter John Grant's critically acclaimed 2010 album. The song has less to do with Queen Margrethe II than it does Grant's battle to come to terms with himself, however. Still, the Danish monarch is probably okay with lending her title to what the BBC called “one of the most deeply satisfying debut album of recent times”.
7. Vetusta Morla – 'Copenhague'
The Spanish band became massive after the release of their 2008 their album 'Un día en el mundo' (A day in the world). ‘Copenhague’ became one of their most recognizable songs and one of the biggest hits of indie music in Spain. A poll from Spanish public radio station Radio 3 chose 'Copenhague' as one of the three best indie songs in Spanish of the past 30 years.
8. Van Morrison – 'Vanløse Stairway'
‘Van the Man’, the Northern Ireland singer-songwriter, recorded this song in 1981 in honour of his Danish girlfriend, Ulla Munch. Apparently, she lived in Copenhagen's Vanløse district in a fourth floor flat with no lift, forcing the troboudour to ascend a “stairway that reaches up to the moon/ And it comes right back to you”.
9. Tina Dickow – 'Copenhagen'
The Danish songwriter Tina Dickow wrote her personal ode to Copenhagen for her 2010 album Welcome Back Colour. Also know as Tina Dico, the artist now resides in Reykjavik. In December 2014 she released a six-song digital-only EP composed of Danish-language cover songs including a take on Ulige Numre's track København, which would certainly make our list of the best Danish language songs about the capital.
10. Jeremiah Clarke – 'Prince of Denmark’s March'
We went far back in time for our final item on the list. Also known as the Trumpet Voluntary, The Prince of Denmark’s March was composed by English organist Jeremiah Clarke around the year 1700. Popular as wedding music, the march has been played during royal weddings including the union of Lady Diana and Prince Charles.