Barfotavisan – The Perfect Summer Ballad

Barfota utan strumpor och skor / barefoot without shoes or socks.” Ahhh, what a feeling! Midsommar may be over, but sun and fun are still in full-swing for Swedes. Vacationing at the sea and in the countryside are popular this time of year, when folks have weeks of vacation to use at a time. My first post of the month is always music-themed so this week, we’ll sing an ode to that blissful summer feeling and learn the beloved classic, “Barfotavisan / The Barefoot Ballad” by Mats Paulson. 

Credits: Faramarz Gosheh/imagebank.sweden.se

Mat Paulson oljemålning / oil painting "Skärgårdsmotiv."

Mat Paulson, oil painting “Skärgårdsmotiv.”

82-year-old Mats Paulson is from the Linkoping area and is known for his classic troubadour songwriting style. He is a painter, poet, and musician, penning many songs for other artists through the years. He released his first album Tango i Hagalund  in 1964. It was ten years later that he wrote his most popular song by far,  “Barfotavisan” or “The Barefoot Ballad.” This song held a spot on the Swedish chart Svensktoppen for six weeks. He has continued to release music throughout his life, with artists like Alexander Rybak and Håkan Hellström covering his songs for broader Scandinavian audiences.

I was first introduced to our song of the week by one of my Scandinavian Studies professors, Roland Thorstensson. A Swedish expat living in Minnesota, he played this song on repeat for students during spring semester of his retirement. I think it made him feel especially nostalgic that year for summer memories of Småland.  Spring turning into summer happens in Minnesota much like it does in Sweden; everything comes to life in a rather quick and glorious fashion. It’s captivating, and before we know it, we’ve kicked off our shoes and made our next move barefoot. Roland took quite a few barefoot walks around campus that spring… and is even known to run a barefoot mile each year on his birthday, although it’s been a few years since I have confirmed that tradition.  

 

According to Wikipedia, Mats Paulson took inspiration from the song Blåsippor” which has the lyrics:

Anders Tedeholm/imagebank.sweden.se

Anders Tedeholm / imagebank.sweden.se

Nu får vi gå utan strumpor och skor / Let’s walk now without socks or shoes.”

In “Barfotavisan” he also mentions the common tradition of picking smultron, or wild strawberries. Swedes gather them and string them on a strand of grass, before devouring the sweet, small berries. 

Jag plockar smultron vid vägens kant
 
och trär sen upp dem på strån.”

“I pick wild strawberries on the roadside
and then string them with straw.”

Okej! Now let’s enjoy the song. Follow along, and then by the last chorus you should be able to sing along 😉

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=69WdcC9iV0M

Vers 1

Det finns så mycket att titta på

när sommarn kommer till oss

grodor som hoppar i bäck och damm

och kalvar som nyss kommit loss.

Refrang:

Barfota utan strumpor och skor

ska jag vandra med dej

ut till sommarn där vindarna bor

till ros och förgätmigej.

Vers 2

Jag plockar smultron vid vägens kant

och trär sen upp dem på strån

det killar så skönt under foten min

jag känner gruset med tån.

En svala flyger med svindlande fart

och måsarna skränar i skyn

och hästen gnäggar och andra ljud

som vi hör när vi går genom byn.

Refrang:

Barfota utan strumpor och skor

ska jag vandra med dej

ut till sommarn där vindarna bor

till ros och förgätmigej.

Jag plockar smultron vid vägens kant

och trär sen upp dem på strån

det killar så skönt under foten min

jag känner gruset med tån.

Vers 3

Ett rådjur står där vid skogens kant

det ser oss när vi går förbi

ja sommarn har mycket mera att ge

åt din och min fantasi.

Refrang:

Mat Paulson, Album Cover: "16 Bästa."

Mat Paulson, Album Cover: “16 Bästa.”

Barfota utan strumpor och skor

ska jag vandra med dej

ut till sommarn där vindarna bor

till ros och förgätmigej.

Jag plockar smultron vid vägens kant

och trär sen upp dem på strån

det killar så skönt under foten min

jag känner gruset med tån.

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