Danny Kaye’s iconic ‘Wonderful Copenhagen’ may be the best-known of the bunch, but popular international artists including Tom Waits, Lucinda Williams and Van Morrisson have also penned Copenhagen-inspired tunes.
The American singer-songwriter Mark Kozelek has also detailed his love for Denmark in song, most notably in the track ‘UK Blues’, where he croons that in Denmark “everybody's white, everyone rides bikes”. On Thursday, Kozelek added another song to the Copenhagen canon, although it’s probably safe to say this one is a bit weirder than the others.
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Performed under his Sun Kil Moon moniker, Kozelek’s newest album ‘This is My Dinner’ includes a ten-minute track simply titled ‘Copenhagen’ that showcases his trademark freeform, stream of consciousness style.
In it, we learn that the Scandic Copenhagen is his “favourite hotel in Scandinavia”, where they know him by name and always give him a courtyard room with extra blankets and pillows.
The track was written on a flight to Copenhagen from Baden, Switzerland and Kozelek spends the first three minutes recounting a flirtatious post-gig meeting with a married woman in Baden that then veers off into memories of elementary school kids with speech development issues and how he’s still got his “own scars from my high school remedial reading classes”.
Once that’s out of the way, Kozelek really starts riffing on Copenhagen, starting with his past success in having threesomes in the Danish capital.
“The line that I use is always exactly the same /I say I’ve got a cosy bed back in my hotel that will fit three/ and they say, ‘Ok, let’s go’,” he sings.
We then hear about his first memory of Copenhagen, in which he met a girl “outside a Chinese restaurant” in 1997 who “is still one of my dear friends”.
Listeners are then treated to a mini-rant about Copenhagen’s cyclists, who he hopes will be hampered by snowfall by the time his flight lands.
“I hope the canals are frozen/ I prefer to see the bikes stuck in the ice/ People cycle too fast on their bikes/ Jesus Christ, Scandinavians love their fucking bikes!”
Despite the annoyance at the city’s two-wheeled commuters, Kozelek makes it clear he loves Copenhagen.
“I’m going to tell you something from the bottom of my heart / I’m not lying / my favourite place to tour is Scandinavia and that’s a fact / the trains are peaceful / the scenery is serene / the promoters are honest and they always put me in the Scandic/ and your English skills are fantastic.”
The song then veers into TMI territory.
“I’m looking forward to playing tomorrow night in Copenhagen / and yeah I’m older now and I won’t end up in a threesome,” he sings, before going off on riffs about his previous promiscuity (“indie rock’s answer to Wilt Chamberlain”) and current inability to get an erection, both of which are probably best left unwritten here.
Before wrapping up this very unconventional ode to the Danish capital, which he acknowledges has “been long enough,” Kozelek turns to one of his favourite subjects: boxing.
The Ohio native is a well-known boxing fan and often sings about the sport and its athletes, so perhaps it’s not a huge surprise that he finishes the song with a tribute to Brian Nielsen, the Danish heavyweight who went 64-3 in his career, with two of his losses at the hands of legends Mike Tyson and Evander Holyfield.
“Let’s give it up for Denmark’s Brian Nielsen. He wasn’t much of a fighter but he had the heart of a lion,” Kozelek croons three times, thus ending perhaps the strangest song ever written about Copenhagen.
‘This is My Dinner’ was released on Thursday and is the prolific Kozelek’s second full-length album of 2018. He’s released over 50 albums under either his own name or the Sun Kil Moon moniker or as part of the Red House Painters.