A Letter to Roxette’s Per Gessle and Marie Fredriksson
Posted on April 23, 2012
Dear Per Gessle and Marie Fredriksson,
I know your latest album, Traveling, reflects your time during the Charm School tour, but as I’ve listened to it, I’ve been doing a little reflecting of my own. You see, Roxette has been in my life since I was a college freshman back in 1988 and heard the first chords of The Look on the radio. Even the b-side of the cassette single, Silver Blue, was magic! And that’ll be a word–magic–you’ll hear me bring up quite a bit where Roxette is concerned. Why? Because in the years that followed, I’d scour record shows and import music stores for rare vinyl releases and, shortly to come, CD singles with rare b-sides. It was at one such store no longer in business called Grand Rapids Compact Disc that they saved a genuine first edition copy of your Pearls of Passion album for me. That album played a huge part in how I came to befriend, date and eventually marry my husband. See? Magic.
It almost ended before it began, though. I bought the Look Sharp! album on the assumption that you, Per, would be singing the songs. My roommate and I listened to the album once in its entirety, probably in the background while we were doing homework, and then only ever brought it out to hear The Look because we couldn’t figure out why Marie was doing the singing when you had such an incredible lead single. We weren’t very bright for college kids, were we? It wasn’t until I was home the following summer when I heard Listen To Your Heart on the radio and absolutely fell in love with it. Who could the artist be? Guess who’d had the album for months and never paid any attention to the song? Like I said, not the brightest for a college kid.
In the meantime, I continued to look for cassette and vinyl releases with b-sides, mixes or whatever else I could find. It even drove me a bit mental trying to find a song that played over the end credits of your Look Sharp! Live VHS concert. The Voice was finally released on the Rarities album and it’s still a personal favorite. And when Joyride came out? The folks at school and I lost our minds! The song and the album were like a personal musical eargasm. That’s when I started getting into CDs and collecting your CD singles. Naturally, I bought the Look Sharp! CD for its extra track, (I Could Never) Give You Up, then looked for the Joyride single for its b-side, Come Back Before You Leave.
Here’s a little piece of trivia for you. I saw Roxette play in Detroit during the Joyride tour. Unfortunately, I was running a fever that night and had to leave before your encore. It didn’t stop me from buying a shirt, program and watching as much of the show as I could. I also don’t regret going, but I wished I’d been able to see the whole thing since I’ve not had the opportunity to see you play since. And it was shortly after the show that Grand Rapids Compact Disc called and said they came across something I might be interested in, an album called Pearls of Passion. I’d never heard of it and thought it couldn’t possibly be a part of the Roxette catalog. I was wrong. Believe me, I did get smarter after college.
Pearls of Passion remains an absolute delight! Surrender, Voices, I Call Your Name and Call of the Wild? Love them. This album also contains my favorite version of So Far Away, played as it should be; sad. I was so enamored of the album that I recorded it onto cassette so I could take it with me during a sailing trip I’d been invited on one Saturday afternoon. My girlfriend’s sister had invited her boyfriend and it turned out he was a huge Roxette fan himself. It annoyed him that he’d never heard of or come across the Pearls of Passion album during his travels overseas. We exchanged phone numbers that day and grew to be best friends during the next 3 1/2 years. I’d continue to go to record shows across the state while at school, then, when I’d come home, I’d call him and he’d head over to make a cassette copy of the latest mixes and b-sides.
The two of us continued to grow together and eventually become a couple in 1995. Incidentally, he was at the same concert I was in Detroit. We even used to joke that it seemed almost unreal that we ended up together. Yes, it’s a bit of an “in” joke we based on your song Almost Unreal. Which, incidentally, I recently read that you felt the song wasn’t one of your most inspired. Perhaps not for you, but the song was pure magic for us and continues to be. I can remember listening to it when I wrote my second novel and making Roxette one of the reasons why two of the characters bonded. Write what you know, yes?
We grew a little older and serious as did you. Later albums, which were a little difficult to find after they stopped releasing them here in the US, reflected your growth as singers/songwriters and it sounded like it stopped being as much fun for you both. Roxette was still there, only the wink and twinkle in your eye wasn’t, at least not as much. Naturally, we all held our breath for Marie during her health scare and couldn’t have been happier when she started performing again! By the way, Per, we’ve kept up with your solo releases, too, and enjoyed them immensely.
Then, just when things seemed as if Roxette was headed for the history books as a beautiful memory of what once was, out comes Charm School. That little wink and twinkle in your eye that felt like it was missing earlier was back. The magic was back. The two of you found a way to mix a little of the playful and serious and make it fun.
Incidentally, that friend who I started to date? We got married last February after 17 years together. If it hadn’t been for two people we’d never met, Per Gessle and Marie Fredriksson, we might never have struck up a conversation, friendship and everything else that came after.
So, our sincerest thanks and love to you, to Roxette, and to the future of both.
It’s been almost unreal.
Kristoffer Gair (who formerly wrote under the pseudonym Kage Alan) is the Detroit-based author of Honor Unbound, A Funny Thing Happened On The Way To My Sexual Orientation, Andy Stevenson Vs. The Lord Of The Loins, Gaylias: Operation Thunderspell, several short stories featured in anthologies (to be combined in a forthcoming book), the recently re-published novella Falling Awake, its sequel, Falling Awake II: Revenant and Falling Awake III: Requiem.
6 Responses to “A Letter to Roxette’s Per Gessle and Marie Fredriksson”
Katherine Trick says:
April 23, 2012 at 8:50 am
Awww…. I hope you’ve passed a copy of this along to them. Love how the connection to them made a connection for you and Ralph that is still there all these years later. Great blog. 🙂
Dorien Grey says:
April 23, 2012 at 9:15 am
Interesting blog, as always. But would you believe I have never in my entire life heard of a single one of these people (other than you and Ralph), or of their albums, or of their tours? As I’ve said so often, I lost all interest in popular music after Glenn Miller was lost over the English Channel.
We do live in different worlds!
April 28, 2012 at 12:44 am
What a lovely story! I am sure you’re happy to know that Roxette is coming to US this sept! I hope you don’t mind that I share this link on Roxette Official Facebook page. Roxette need to read this.
April 28, 2012 at 10:06 am
I was ecstatic to find out that Roxette is coming to the US! =) Unfortunately, they’re not playing anywhere near where I live (Detroit). I’m hoping, however, that if time and opportunity permit, my guy and I might fly out to a show. Not quite sure yet.
And I certainly appreciate you adding the link to the Roxette forum. I suspect they might enjoy knowing about the lives their music has touched.
April 29, 2012 at 12:10 am
Per loves to read interesting fan blog sometimes that’s why I thought I should share this with him.
I DO hope that you and your guy can make it to the concert. I’ve been to their concert just a month ago and it was really a night to remember. It’s a shame US only get three dates. Well, have a good day and keep on ROXING 🙂
April 30, 2012 at 7:19 am
Perhaps with a little luck, they’ll be able to expand the number of shows they do in North America. The closest they’re getting to me is NYC and I’ll be in Atlanta that weekend. So if not then, then I’ll have to travel out to the west coast. It would be nice to see one of their shows to the end this time instead of going to one with a fever again. Lol