Montag, 7. September 2015

Norwegian Country

I've been meaning to write about this for a while now: the ways in which Norway often reminds me of the United States, or more precisely the Pacific Northwest of the United States. Whether it's red brick buildings piercing cloudy silver-grey skies, the lush green of trees & lawns due to high amounts of precipitation, or just the way they pack & sell their bread here, and the types of products and  brands you find on supermarket shelves (I've never seen "Hellman's Mayonnaise" being sold anywhere in Austria)... not to mention the amount of flannel shirts or lumbersexual hipster beards that you see on the streets, which I'd say is neither coincidental nor the result of a globalized trend - geographically speaking, these two regions have a lot in common and thrived on the same industries in the past (fishing, lumber, railroads). And many a Northwesterner in the US might actually be of Norwegian descent - after all, 750.000 Norwegians escaped hardship in their own country to resettle in the US and Canada between 1825 and 1925.  

Even though the two countries may have drifted worlds apart in other areas (America merely claims to be egalitarian, while Norway really seems to live it; and the Norwegian model of a welfare state is still despised by many Americans, even though their president seems to like the idea), you can't help but notice the many similarities they still share, and sometimes this can border on the bizarre - such as Norwegians' knack for country music. Just check out the picture on the left to see what musical gem i found rummaging through a second-hand record collection in an antiquity store on Storgata yesterday! ;)

Last Thursday I also attended a "Vin & Vinyl" event at the Norwegian Students Association's headquarters (a building better known as "Chateau Neuf") where members of the Norwegian band The Northern Belle were lounging around in comfy leather sofas, sipping on Italian red wine, and spinning their favourite vinyl records to a small, but loyal audience. The band, who apparently combines Americana with Nordic Folk elements, played songs from country legends such as Gram Parsons, Townes van Zandt, Steve Earle, or Loretta Lynn. In between tracks, lead singer Stine Andreassen would entertain the listeners with personal stories (none of which I understood, due to my poor Norwegian) and pass around the album sleeves, some of which I knew all too well from my own record collection. The whole event felt a little bit nerdy - but then again, I'm somewhat of a music geek with a soft spot for country myself, so i guess that's why I feel right at home here. Hell, I even wore my flannel shirt that night! ;)

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