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Strongly touching documentary about a Scanian rock legend

Film Håkan A Bengtsson remembers the Scanian rock legend Kal P Dal, whose life has now become a film.

I still remember that Kal P Dal concert at a disco in Halmstad. It must have been on the East Bank. It was probably the right side of town. He was perhaps better suited there than in the slightly “finer” Tylösand. For the rocker and the working class from Arlöv, it was probably more domestic. This was shortly after Kal P Dal (whose real name was Carl Sven-Göran Ljunggren) broke through with noise and bang. He grew up in Arlöv and lived in the Stins residence “between the bars”, because his father was Stins. When he pedaled around Arlöv on a Danish moped, he became known locally as “Kalle Trampa” and “Kalle Pedal”. Which then became the stage name Kal P Dal.

Had own fan club

The first album “Till mossan” was a monumental success and a unique breakthrough. It still lasts, and radiates energy and joy of playing. Karl P Dal now toured the country and was for a period Sweden’s biggest band. It is not a given to be able to form a fan club. But that’s how big Kal P Dal was. Incidentally, the fan club was administered by his mother. Kal P Dal played classic rock and as he himself put it “Rock it’s three chords, a bonna stick and lots of feeling”. He felt it. The second album “Gräd ente Fassan” was not as good. And then he disappeared from my listening focus, there were so many other artists and bands at the time.

The movie about Kal P Dal filling in the puzzle pieces of his story that I’m missing. It is an absolutely brilliant and deeply moving documentary (made possible, among other things, by crowdfunding). The film is a kind of document about a time that has moved, an era that shaped us who were there. But of course it is above all about Kal P Dal. With it is a film that has a tragic ending. Kal P Dal died back in 1985 of a cerebral hemorrhage aged only 36.

Breaking time

This took place in a time of transition between the people’s home and what came after. The cracks in the facade were already becoming visible. Musically, too, there was a shift between prog and punk. Kal P Dal had the same energy as the punks, but played classic rock with a style taken from the 50s.

Kal P Dal had great and impressive confidence and literally pushed his way to the mic. If there was a concert at the Academic Association in Lund, he could simply jump into a break and take the stage. Kal P Dal was not allowed to play at the “folkfest” in Malmö because the band, according to their own statement, was not “communist enough”, but the band came in and took the stage when everyone else had finished playing, and did an extra concert late in the evening. Of course, he had a big ego, and could be stressful for those around him, not least the band members who could come and go, and then come back again.

Sung in Scanian

It was “Raka rör” and “Bara Rock’n’roll” to name two of Kal P Dal’s songs. In addition, of course, came many of the male rock templates. But he sang in Scanian. He himself said that “Rock can only be sung in English, Danish and Scanian”. Maybe there is something in it.

His methodology was largely to take old rock songs and write new lyrics, in phonetic Scanian, with a lot of slang and local references. But he didn’t always state who originally wrote the song. And because his lyrics were often so good and peculiar, one kind of forgot the origin. It sounded and felt like it was Kal P Dal’s own songs. It is a special art to write rock lyrics, which requires a certain type of creativity and linguistic talent, it is about finding the melody in the text. It is the simple that is the difficult. As in the translation of the Rolling Stones “It’s only Rock’n’Roll”:

If I could stick a pencil in my heart
And blow down the whole scene
If I could roar out soundless pain
Would it be fine later? (Become a good se-en!)

I know, it’s just rock’n’roll
But I can like it, I can like it, I can like it well
Like it, I can like it, I can like it well

It sounded just as good if not better in Scanian. Elvis’ super hit “Blue Suede Shoes” became “Blåa skor”, also a huge hit (in little Sweden):

When I went to school I liked gymnastics
But the teacher said: “Take them away because they smell like shit!”
And I stood there and thought: I’ll never be the same

I had:
Blue, blue, blue shoes (a-ha-ha)

I know a girl who lives up on a hill
Yes, I know a girl who lives up on a hill
And she said to me: “Oh, Kal I have something for you”

She had:
Blue, blue, blue shoes (a-ha-ha)

Had political meaning

And we shouldn’t forget Bob Dylan’s “Knocking on heaven’s door”, which in Kal P dal’s version became “Knabbar på Himelens dörr”. But several songs had a political meaning and drew nourishment from the social engagement of the time. As in “Jonnie”. He who “wanted to be out every night”: “He knew where they lived and where they were/He happened upon Oscar the fox and Buffalo Bill.” Who made an intjack at the gas station, but the alarm went off: “So the guy came; Jonnie’s bow went away/But the road curved, and in the way stood a tree.”

Photo: Thore Andersson/Bilder i Syd/Folkets Hus och Parks

Kal P Dal grew up in Arlöv, the main town in Burlöv municipality, between Lund and Malmö. We are here between SJ and Sockerbruket in Arlöv and academic life in Lund. A cultural and political tension surface, then as now. Arlöv has already been immortalized in the National Theatre’s “Hanna from Arlöv”: It is about a young girl who works in a laundry in the summer and meets Hanna, a “fifty-year-old aunt” and a belligerent “communist”. It was based on an interview with Hanna that was published in Proletären, where she complained about the heat in the laundry where she worked. When Sydsvenskan interviewed Hanna a couple of decades later, she was proud of the song that bore her name. But she had never been a strike leader, because there had never been a strike. And she had always been a social democrat and never a communist, as in the song. There were perhaps more communists in Lund (where, by the way, the National Theater had its origins) than in Arlöv.

Wrote about his father

At the time, Burlöv was a stable (s) municipality. But nowadays SD is the second largest party. And M, C and L govern in a minority with only 13 of the 41 mandates.

And Kal P Dal wrote well about his father in “SJ”: “Now I’ve worked and toiled/Now I’ve worked and toiled/Now I’ve worked and toiled/So I think I’ll catch a cold.” In the newspaper Norrskensflamman he commented on his working-class roots and said that: “…we sing about the working-class youth for the working-class youth while they (the music movement) give the workers cue sticks”. When Sveriges Radio in Malmö got tired of his lack of efforts as a traffic informant (“Kal P Dal’s traffic school”), he got radio time on the Skånepartiet’s local radio station, even though he himself said that he did not sympathize with the party. The radio program was a great success. It was talk and rock.

It is also probably not possible to squeeze Kal P Dal into a simple compartment. He worked as an after-school leader and with young people who had mental illness. He started to study at university, but there will be no degree. His friends and social circle met outside the Academic Association (AF) and “hung out”. Arbetarnas Lund has always been in the shadow of the big academic giants. “AF” perhaps reflects that tension and ambivalence:

Have you ever been up at AF?
And only had a ten in your hand
Have you felt shy when the dealer grinned
And said it wasn’t much really

And everyone who sits with me
They think you look crazy
There is nothing to it
That’s totally fine

Have you ever been up at AF?
A Saturday night when there is a disco
Have you seen pounders grab a sandwich
Then you know it’s not just for fun

In there they bounce around
You think they seem dingy
There is nothing to it
That’s totally fine

Have you ever been up at AF?
Have you ever been up at AF?

Released several good records

He attended the Hungarian club, which was open after the gigs were over, run by immigrants from Hungary, and met his wife, with whom he had two children. Daughter Nelly was born after his death. He appeared in Marie-Louise Ekman’s film “Barnförbjudet” in 1979. He released several good records after the breakthrough, several of them actually sound better than the first records, but fell into obscurity and there were no new big hits. He performed on a drag stage and promised to “rock the asses of the gays”. He appeared on Jacques Werup’s literary stage. The Hammarby fans start each match with Kenta’s “Just today I’m strong”. The MFF fans now sing “I want to live free”.

Kal P Dal thus lives on in all its complexity and genius. And in the Movie about Kal P Dal, he has received a worthy memorial. The tears fall at the end. Because it is a film about a big heart that spreads warmth. Which gives hope. It is possible to stretch and perhaps explode the limits of what is possible. And am I the only one who puts Carl Sven-Göran Ljunggren himself in “Tuffe Uffe”? Uffe was a pyromaniac who wanted to set fire to the town. But Uffe started playing in a rock band: “Now only hearts are set on fire.”

PS. The band members, after a few years of mourning, started playing again and keep Kal P Dal’s memory alive. On Saturday, February 24, “Pedalens pågar” will play in Bryggarsalen in Stockholm.

Håkan A Bengtsson

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