Saturday, October 05, 2013

Gazpacho: "What Did I Do?"

By Michael J.W. Stickings

One question I get a lot is, "What's your favorite band from Norway?" I always reply, "Gazpacho, of course. They're amazing. Not just my favourite Norwegian band but one of my favorite bands period. If you've never heard them, you're really missing out."

Okay, I've never gotten that question. But the rest is true.

In 2012, Gazpacho released its seventh studio album, March of Ghosts, on the great post-prog label Kscope. Here's what it's about:

While Missa Atropos [the band's previous album, from 2010] can be viewed as a concept album, following the story of one person leaving everything behind, [keyboardist] Thomas [Andersen] sees March of Ghosts much more as a collection of short tales; 'The idea was to have the lead character spend a night where all these ghosts (dead and alive) would march past him to tell their stories.'

Characters include Haitian war criminals, the crew of the Marie Celeste, a returning American WWI soldier who finds himself in 2012 and the ghost of an English comedy writer who was wrongly accused of treason and who will sit for eternity listening to gramophone recordings of the broadcasts he did on enemy radio. As lead singer Jan-Henrik [Ohme] explains, 'They are short stories. They are a march of ghosts. They are tales that need to be told.'

The English comedy writer in question is P.G. Wodehouse, perhaps best-known now as the creator of Jeeves, and the song is "What Did I Do?":

'What Did I Do?' is based around the story of the English writer P.G. Wodehouse who was accused of treason after a series of broadcasts he did on German radio during WWII. He was interned as a foreign national by the Germans and spent some time in prison camp before finally being released at 60.

After he was released he stayed for some time at a country estate where he was informed of what crimes the Nazis were guilty of and how impossibly stupid it was to agree to broadcast on their radio.

It is his ghost we hear sitting on the porch listening to the gramophone recordings of the broadcasts trying to understand why these simple funny narratives had caused such an uproar. The song also deals with our level of involvement in society. Are we by birth under any obligation to take part in whatever political or social system we are born into?

A great question asked by a great band in a great song on a great album. Here's the video:


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