Saturday, November 25, 2006

In Memoriam: Juice Leskinen (1950-2006)

The already frail-looking Juice Leskinen with his old collaborator Mikko Alatalo in 2004

The icon of Finnish popular music has passed away. To be honest, I had been expecting this to happen for some time now, knowing Juice's well-publicised and all the time increasing health problems, caused by his decades of unhealthy living habits. The guy was a non-conformist bohemian to the bone but unfortunately that took place at the expense of his own health.

Actually, it has to be said I've never become a big fan of his music myself -- he was a very clever lyricist (though sometimes the style was admittedly lapsing too when he tried to be too clever for his own good and when, for example, a romantic couplet was followed by some obscene rhyme) but unfortunately musically most of his stuff leaves me quite cold -- even though living in Finland you really can't avoid hearing his songs all the time. So, though I've never bothered to get any of his albums, through radio and TV I too became familiar with most popular ditties (and OK, even learned to like) that have by now gained an evergreen status, and always enjoyed his Lennon-like quick and acerbic wit of those songs and his interviews. (A lot of those songs are comical or satirical, even though there is also a lot of typical Finnish melancholy with songs like 'Syksyn sävel' or 'Viidestoista yö'). Therefore, it could well be said I found myself quite sad on hearing the news of Juice's passing. I remember a comment from someone in 2001 when film-maker and comedian Spede Pasanen (another famous Finnish humourist also hailing from Savo province) died, that it's hard to imagine the world without Spede because it feels like he has always been around. I think this is also very much the case with Juice.

Juice Leskinen's creative output is undeniably a cornerstone in the history of all recorded Finnish music. I suppose Juice's (pronounced in Finnish way, "yoo-ee-seh") importance as a domestic Finnish institution is quite hard to explain to non-Finns because his work was based so much on the mastery and wordplays of Finnish language (he also published several volumes of prose and poetry).

Juice Leskinen in 1974 video clip @ YLE Elävä arkisto

Juice Leskinen performing in 1983 @ YouTube

Official site (in Finnish)

Obituary in English @ Helsingin Sanomat

Juice Leskinen info in English @ Wikipedia


Juri said...

I echo your comments. While he meant nothing to me personally, I acknowledge the fact that he must've been one of the ten (or even five) most important figures in the history of Finnish popular music.

pHinn said...

Well, personally I wouldn't go as far as to say that he meant nothing to me.

So, even if I said was not a big fan, maybe I was a little bit of a fan, nevertheless, and perhaps I will start to check out his records after all this obligatory memorial brouhaha is going to be over.

I think the following weeks and months, perhaps years and decades, will see tons of Yoo-ee-seh newspaper and magazine articles; gutter press wants most probably to have their own say and pick up all the imaginable dirt on the late artiste; books, compilation records, re-releases, tribute albums and concerts, TV documentaries, DVDs; related memoirs and eyewitness reports from eyeryone from Juice's close ones to the guy who once worked as his plumber, and so and so on. After all, as is well known, nothing will boost an artist's popularity as well as his death. Probably the guy himself would have some of his trademark sarcastic quips about all this.

Juri said...

Iltalehdellähän oli jo 18 sivua Juicesta!

No, liioittelin kun sanoin ettei Juice merkinnyt mitään. "Siasta" pidin lapsena. Sen jälkeen Juice ei ole oikeastaan kuulunut elämääni oikein mitenkään, paitsi radioissa pakollisena "musta aurinko nousee" -lauseina. ("Minusta"?)

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