Once upon a time, there was a crazy-ass socialist Swede named ANDREAS MAGNUSSON who dreamed of writing and performing short, great songs under the name PINTO. I first met Andreas at an ABBA concert in 1981 in Jonkoping (or was it 1980 in Linkoping?). Either way, there I was, holding my lighter aloft during an especially poignant performance of "Fernando," when I stepped on a half-empty bottle of Absolut, went ass-over-tea-kettle, and nearly succeeded in singeing Andreas' vintage, autographed (by BJORN but not BENNY; FRIDA but not AGNETHA) ABBA concert T. Fortunately, it turns out that all clothing in Sweden is made from flame-retardant sheep and goats, so no harm, no foul.
After Andreas rather sheepishly helped me back to my feet (turns out, it was HIS half-empty bottle of Absolut I'd stepped on), and after we both basked in ABBA's unforgettable, effervescent, and utterly ingenious encore of "Honey Honey," "Money, Money, Money," and "Gimme! Gimme! Gimme!," Andreas invited me back to his place for some kringle and lingonberries. "Jag trivas litet flickas och litet flickas trivas jag!" I exclaimed. (In Swedish: "Yes, by all means, let us transport ourselves now together to that place which you suggest!")
Andreas transported us then together to his apartment (in Swedish: utedass) in Gothenburg (in English: "Land of Goats"). The kringle was delicious. The lingonberries: luscious. We discussed our love of ABBA. We agreed that "Super Trouper" was no "Voulez-Vous." Andreas made a sharp, well-reasoned argument that "Dancing Queen" was, in point of fact, written about John Travolta. I admitted that listening to "Chiquitita" made me cry. Every time. Often for hours. And even though we had only just met that night, I felt secure and comfortable enough in Andreas' presence to ask him if he thought that meant I needed to see a psychiatrist. "No, no, of course not," he said, seeming to think the idea itself insane. But then, after just the right amount of pause, he added: "You need electro-shock!" Can you believe that? Such a kidder! We laughed and laughed.
Eventually, Andreas and I got around to talking about our dreams. I told him the one where I'm naked and falling. I told him the one where I'm wearing clothes and falling. I told him the one where my teeth are falling out and I'm falling -- sometimes naked, sometimes in clothes. Andreas told me that it was his dream to write and perform short, great songs that he would provide free to the public under the name Pinto. I laughed. I thought he was being a kidder. "Pinto?!" I said, nearly choking on a lingonberry. "A Pinto's a cheap American car that blows up when you bump it from behind. Also, it means 'penis' in Portuguese. And 'free to the public'? What the hell are you -- some kind of crazy-ass socialist?" Andreas did not laugh. Instead of laughing, Andreas asked me to leave. I wanted to tell him about the dream where I'm half-naked and have half my teeth and my father suddenly shows up wearing pink slippers and a see-through muu muu, but, instead, he asked me to leave.
That was in 1981 (or 1980). First: the ABBA concert in Jonkoping (or Linkoping). Then: Kringle and lingonberries in Andreas' utedass in the "Land of Goats." In the 26 (or 27) years since, many things have happened -- most of them just plain crazy-ass awful. AIDS. Reagan. Bosnia. Darfur. 9/11. Iraq. O.J. Paris, Lindsay, and Britney. And, of course, worst of all: ABBA broke up. "Chiquitita" still makes me cry. I still dream of falling and my father in see-through muu muus. And I've wasted 26 (or 27) years of my life enduring electro-shock treatments that have done nothing to make me satisfied or sane (but have, in point of fact, had a miraculous effect on my back acne).
Then, just the other day, something caught my eye while I was online. It was something involving a woman, a pygmy, and a pony (and I'm still not sure I understand what it was, exactly, they were trying to accomplish in that rather badly-lit barn). Just a few days after that, though, I came across this:
"September 26 is the official release date for the debut CD from Swedish indie-pop act PINTO. The CD is entitled HOOK ME UP. Pinto was formed in 2006 in Gothenburg, Sweden and consists of ANDREAS MAGNUSSON (with a little help from his friends). Pinto plays catchy guitar pop, mainly influenced by American acts like R.E.M., THE SHINS, and MATTHEW SWEET. Many of the songs on HOOK ME UP were previously released as free web singles. The CD will be available in Scandinavia through DEAD FROG; in Europe through CDON; and in the U.S. through CD BABY."
Can you believe that? He wasn't kidding. His dream came true. Which puts me in mind of that most famous of Swedish sayings: "Min fotter luktar penisen och min penisen luktar fotter." (In English: "May your kringle be crisp; your lingonberries sweet; and your sheep and goats free from flame." Amen to that.)
PINTO on MySPACE.
[MP3] "Armchair Anthropologist"
[MP3] "Hard Inside the Heart"