Norwegian Wood

Musicals are so unrealistic. When, in real life, do people just spontaneously burst into song and sing harmonies together? It has happened to me only once.

When I was seventeen and I lived in Malung, Sweden for a year, I was part of a vocal ensemble called, very descriptively, "malungs vokalensemble". We were a hodgepodge group of wacky folks, including a weird blind guy who one night grabbed me and gave me a big wet kiss on the mouth. Ew! Most of the group was women, though. There was one woman in particular I remember, a skinny lady with auburn hair who always had some sort of drama going on her life. There were twelve of us, three for each four parts, or maybe it was four for each three parts- I forget. We sang, though, and what we lacked in talent, we didn't really make up for in anything. We sang a lot of folk songs and did small performances every couple of months. We were sort of like the feel good movie of the year, with our eclectic group of people of varied singing ability, but hearts of gold (the blind guy, for instance, seemed to be completely tone deaf, but we were so lacking in men that we kept him on) but they never made a movie out of us, because we never did that great thing that would make you feel good.

I was the only native English speaker in the group. This didn't really matter, except for when we found a nice, three part (or was it four part?) arrangement of "Norwegian Wood" in English. Since everyone else was singing with a Swedish accent, I had to sing like them to blend in, "Eesent eet gud, Norveegian Wud?" This was actually a bit difficult. It's hard to do something wrong on purpose. I secretly thought our performances of that song were absolutely terrible. Because they were.

In the spring of 1992, I took a bus trip to Norway. It was a three hour drive to Oslo. As we were boarding the bus, I noticed someone from Malungs Vokalensemble loading six flower-print suitcases onto the bus. (It was going to be a four day trip.) It was none other than the auburn haired drama queen. Always very enthusiastic, she was ecstatic to see me.

A few days later, we were in Oslo, taking a guided tour of the Norwegian Parliament, Stortinget. The tour guide was pointing out all of the different types of beautiful wood used in the interior. "All of these woods," she explained, "are from Norway."

The Drama Queen and I turned to each other. Our eyes met. We each took in a deep breath, and, in spite of the ten other people on the tour and the very business oriented guide, we broke out spontaneously into two-part harmony,

"Eesent eet gud, Norveegian Wud?"


  1. Eet IS gud. (Your story.)I love life's coincidences like this one!

  2. I break into song at the drop of a hat. I got that from my mother and my grandfather.

    I'm not very good, but the thing is that people can't stop me.

    Don't you get to sing to Little Z in public?

  3. Oh, sure, I burst into song all the time in real life- this was just the only time someone else burst into song at the same time as I did, in harmony.

    Z is just figuring out how to sing. She sort of hums a little in the car. She sang along to that Queen song, Bohemian Rapsody, "Mama just killed a man..." Very cute. In a messed up way!