Cornelis Vreeswijk - Rest In Peace

Cornelis Vreeswijk is one of the most influential figures in Swedish Chanson / folk music. Imagine a rather chubby guy with a large smile, a cigarette, a guitar and some of the most socially critical lyrics on the planet - That's Vreeswijk!

Vreeswijk - Biography

Cornelis Vreeswijk was born the 8th of august 1937 in IJmuiden, Holland (Europe) to a middle class family.

The family was doing quite well. His father (Jacob Vreeswijk) had a transport firm including lorries and taxis. His mother (Jeannette Vreeswijk) was a homemaker, and he had some younger siblings (Marianne, Ida and Tonny).

During The War, things were a bit difficult, and the Germans confiscated Jacob Vreeswijk's transport vehicles.

To protect Cornelis from the nazis, they fabricated a story of him getting tuberculosis in 1943. He was sent to a sanitarium, "where he was between life and death for several months". The tuberculosis epidemic did exist however - it killed off 40 of Cornelis' classmates - only two survived...

After the war, Jacob Vreeswijk continued his transportation company, and in 1947 he ended up in Sweden. He was very impressed by the country, and in November 1949, the family moved to Sweden (Ekerö, just outside of Stockholm, the capitol of Sweden). Cornelis did very well in school, and picked up the language quickly. Cornelis later described the language as "Swedish is so different. Clean and beautiful. Few synonyms, but the ones that exist are good enough for me.

After going through his schooling, Cornelis had jobs in a variety of fields, such as railroad worker, blacksmith etc. Around 1959 Vreeswijk started writing his own songs. He played for friends and family, who encouraged him to continue this line of career.

In 1961 the family (except Ida and Cornelis) moved back to Holland.

Vreeswijk wanted to become a journalist, but the requirements to get to go to the "Journalisthögskolan" (Journalist's College) were tough, and he spent a year in folkehøgskole 1961 - 1962. The Folkehøgskole, notorious for its creative sides accelerated Vreeswijk's guitar and songwriting skills. After finishing the folkehøgskole, Vreeswijk was accepted to the Journalisthögskolan. Here, he continues his career as a musician, playing for his fellow students.

1962: Vreeswijk married Inga-Lill Rehnberg, they got a son together in 1964.

During his time as a student, Vreeswijk met several other artists who play the same type of music as him. One of them, Fred Åkerström, became interested by Vreeswijk's songs.. To cut a long story short: Vreeswijk recorded an LP, starting the adventure... A funny anecdote is that after the LP was recorded, Vreeswijk went to visit his family in Holland. When he returned, the record stores had posters with "Sold Out" in the windows - In a few weeks, Vreeswijk had sold 10,000 copies of his debut album.

In the fall of 1964, Vreeswijk was invited to do a tour with Ann-Louise Hanson and Fred Åkerström. After some consideration, he dropped his studies and joined them. The audience and the critics loved him.

In 1966, Vreeswijk met the famous Swedish Jazz pianist Jan Johanson. Vreeswijk recalled the touring the two did together as some of the best of his life. In 1968, Vreeswijk's marriage collapsed, and he remarried two years later, to Bim Warne. Between 1972 - 1974 Vreeswijk lived in Holland and France. He also toured Denmark, Norway, Belgium, France, Holland and Luxembourg. In 1975 he moved away from his wife, and in 1979 he remarried, this time to singer Anita Strandell. He divorced her as well, in 1982.

In 1985, Vreeswijk developed diabetes, and rapidly started losing weight. He later developed a nasty cancer of the liver, and died November 12, 1987.

Vreeswijk - His music

Cornelis Vreeswijk was an incredibly talented musician. He was massively popular in all of the Nordic countries, and in The Netherlands as well.

His music is mostly guitar and voice. Vreeswijk was a great singer, and his slightly husky voice combined with his great guitar comp were technically great for what he did. As time went on, he evolved as a musician, becoming more jazz and blues inspired. He wrote a load of ballads, blueses and sambas - music mostly filled with joy and hope.

Apart from his technical qualities, Vreeswijk will probably be remembered for his lyrics, which (at times) were absolutely hilarious while at the same time often heavily cynical towards the establishment.

Vreeswijk - Discography

  • 1964
    • Ballader och oförskämdheter (Ballads and impudences)
  • 1965
    • Visor och oförskämdheter (Songs and impudences)
    • Ballader och Grimascher (Ballads and grimaces)
  • 1966
    • Grimascher och telegram (Grimaces and telegrams)
  • 1968
    • Tio vackra visor och personliga person (Ten beautiful songs and personal person)
  • 1969
    • Cornelis sjunger Taube (Cornelis sings Taube)
  • 1970
    • Poem,ballader och lite blues (Poems, Ballads and some Blues)
  • 1971
    • Spring mot Ulla, spring! Cornelis sjunger Bellman (Run towards Ulla, Run! Cornelis sings Bellman)
  • 1972
    • Cornelis live! (guess...)
    • Visor, svarta och röda (Songs, black and red)
  • 1973
    • Istället för vykort (Instead of postcards)
    • Linnéas fina visor (Linneas nice songs)
  • 1974
    • Getinghonung (Wasp's Honey)
  • 1976
    • Narrgnistor och transkriptioner (funny sparks and transcripts (?))
  • 1977
    • Movitz! Movitz!
  • 1978
    • Cornelis sjunger Victor Jara (Cornelis sings Victor Jara)
    • Narrgnistor 2, En halv böj blues och andra ballader (Funny sparks 2 - Half a (?) of blues and other ballads)
    • Felicias svenska suite (Felicia's Swedish suite)
  • 1979
    • Vildhallon (Wild raspberries)
    • Cornelis-Live. Montmatre-Köpenhamn Vol 1
    • Cornelis-Live. Montmatre-Köpenhamn Vol 2
    • Cornelis-Live. Montmatre-Köpenhamn
    • Jazz incorporated
  • 1980
    • Bananer-bland annat (Bananas - among other things)
    • En spjutkastares visor (The songs of a javelinist)
  • 1981
    • "Alla har vi varit små" Cornelis sjunger Povel/1 (We've all been small, Cornelis sings Povel)
    • "The gräsänkling blues" Cornelis sjunger Povel/2 (The Grass Widow's blues, Cornelis sings Povel)
    • Turistens klagan (The tourist's complaint)
    • Hommager och Pamfletter (homages and pamphlets)
    • Hommage till Povel (Homage to Povel)
  • 1985
    • Cornelis Bästa (best of...)
    • Mannen som älskade träd. (The man who loved trees)
  • 1986
    • I elfte timmen (In the eleventh hour)
  • 1987
    • Till Fatumeh, rapport från de osaligas ängor (For Fatumeh, report from the fields of the unsainted)

Songs by Cornelis Vreeswijk

I am planning to node some of Vreeswijk's funniest / most important lyrics, so the E2 community can enjoy some of his work. If you understand a Nordic language, I would recommend you get some mp3s, and possibly even a few of Vreeswijk's albums.

Thanks to liveforever, this wu is not littered with typos and mistranslations. Thanks!
.... But even after his tips, BlueDragon still found a few. Thanks!


Log in or register to write something here or to contact authors.