Music

Stjerne til støv

Sebastian (1949-)

By Peter Elsnab, journalist and Jesper Nykjær Knudsen, music editor og journalist, 2006

Hope and attitudes

There are not many that have their very own island on the musical map. However, Sebastian has always been an individual, and his hugely imaginative mixture of rock, pop, musical and folk music is outside of any single category. ‘Stjerne til støv’ is his strongest album. It came out at a time when punk and new wave had just turned the music scene on its head and agitated 1960s and 1970s trendy leftist values and political agendas.

New relevance

This general trend did not, however, influence Sebastian, who continued to let his attitudes freely show in his music. ‘Vind og vejrhaner’ addresses superficiality, and ‘Præsidenten’ is a commentary on warmongering global politics. ‘If we are not for him, then we are against/whether we are in front of or behind his guns’ are words that have been given new relevance 25 years after they were first written with the Iraq war.

The inspired and original songs are about both the world outside and within ourselves. ‘Romeo’ describes a lost love in lines such as: ‘What is the point of waiting/For one who is long gone/I am sure she knew every note of your melody’.

No typical rock album

Sebastian’s melodies are something that you cannot simply forget. The songs rarely take the easy way home, but are bursting with feints, colours and details. Sebastian has a number of the country’s most competent musicians behind him, and they give the music a range of sound that makes ‘Stjerne til støv’ an atypical rock record.
However, the album was a huge success. Not least because of the song ‘Stilhed før storm’, a grandiose hymn about the power of love sung by Lis Sørensen. It has since become something of a classic with its powerful refrain: ‘As far as we know, heaven is blue/our course is the Cape of Good Hope’. It is exactly that – hope – that lives constantly in Sebastian’s music, which steadily contends that the world is better than its reputation.

Cover for Sebastian's Stjerne til Støv. Coverdesign: John Ovesen.
The team behind Stjerne til Støv: Sebastian, Nils Henriksen, Michael Friis, Lis Sørensen, Kenneth Knudsen and Alex Riel: Photo: Jan Persson.
Popular Music

Did you know?

Source: Uffe C. Forsberg, Jyllands-Posten, 31/8-99.

The song ‘Romeo’ from ‘Stjerne til støv’ is currently Sebastian’s best-selling song. In 1999, the singer Blå Øjne had a huge hit with a rather more pop-oriented version of Sebastian’s classic. ‘The most fun thing about the new version of ‘Romeo’ is that now even Sebastian has also begun singing Blå Øjne’s songs’ said Sebastian, one year later in an interview. Sebastian thought that the new version was a lot of fun, but believed at the same time he had created the song as it should actually sound.

The committee's justification

By the Committee for Music, 2006

For many years, Sebastian has been known and recognised as the artist that began the Danish tradition of musicals. It is difficult to chastise him for the fact that the genre’s family friendly tag eventually crushed the life out of him in artistic necessity. Throughout the 1970s, he was a pioneer in Danish rock, because he did not like to be pigeonholed. He entered the 1980s with the album ‘Stjerne til støv’, which had mass appeal without angling for the lowest common denominator. This was an album that showed how interactive and coordinated Sebastian and his musicians had become. It is impossible to hear where the composer ends and the accompanist takes over. This was in the dubious golden age of the Polymoog and synthesiser; however, Kenneth Knudsen imparts the electronics with a human soul.

Here, you’ll find inspired ballads such as ‘Sommerfuglen’, organic pop such as ‘Romeo’ with superior imagery, and not least the ‘Bridge over troubled water’-inspired ‘Stille før storm’, sung by Lis Sørensen in such a way that the close and unattainable become the same vital essence. The tone is more personal than anything Sebastian had produced for some time, with the artist as both as gadfly of ‘Vind og vejrhaner’ and he who has grown up so much and wants to tell everyone what it is like, but still lives under the pop prejudice that says that such things belong to the private sphere. It gives the album a trembling intensity, as if he fears – or hopes – that we will discover how much the songs are in fact about his own life. In summary: the quintessence of Sebastian’s compositional works.

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