Established in late 1996, the less-than-giant enterprise known as Beautiful Lies You Can Live In has moved through a bunch of different stages while providing records for folks in need of such; from photocopied mailorder lists & record shows to a proper store. Since 2005 it's been an internet-thing only, with its earthly base on a small farm in northern Sweden.
In spring 2011, American collector/dealer Paul Tescher & his ladyfriend June Holley visited us, and Paul subsequently wrote an account of the trip - I believe this tells as much about what's happening here as anything I can come up with, and was happy that he'd let me share an excerpt with you... some things have changed since then, but the basic plot remains the same. Over to you, Paul:
Sweden... March '11
Our visit with my friends in northern Sweden was full of wonder and fun... wotta place! The 7 hour electric train/petrol bus ride from Stockholm to Umeå (ohm ya) was eye candy of the sweetest taste... the train was especially nice and pretty quiet. The terrain is lovely rolling hills with heavily forested land... mostly pine, spruce, aspen and birch... the birch is budding now and has a purple hue... LOTSA snow. We caught an occasional glimpse of the ocean (Gulf of Bothnia), maybe 100 miles across to Finland). About 1/2 way, the coastal mountains grew to a height of somewhere in the range of 1/3 the Appalachians... big distance between towns. The houses were mostly brick red with white trim and doors... with some a mustard yellow color, others a lighter yellow hue and not much variation beyond this. Also presenting itself was the ubiquitous graffiti, "tagged' on just about every available vertical surface facing the railroad tracks... some of it was quite elaborate and beautiful.
We got the rented car... a very small, 4 door Citroen in Umeå and drove another hour to where Jens and Linnea live... VERY rural... many houses sit empty, even in the village of Hökmark (heck mok), a hop and a skip away from their house. Some of them are used for summer homes. A small town, Lövånger (lew wongah), was a few miles away, near the coast.
There was 3 feet of snow! Jens had spent an hour carving out a spot for us to park next to their mid-80's 4 door Volvo. They have about 5 acres and grow a lot of their food. A big red barn sits maybe 30 yards away from the house with a narrow walkway of packed snow leading to it where their 4 sheep live. Jens or Linnea carried hot water for them and fed them hay twice a day. He's done a considerable amount of work fixing up the barn, which in part, is maybe 150 years old or so. There's an outhouse attached to it, though their house has indoor plumbing.
Jens and Linnea are lovely people... he, mid 30's... she, late 20's... both delightful and gracious. He's maybe 6' 3" and lean, has long blond hair and a reddish blond beard, which he keeps braided... it extends to his belly button! He said his beard was 3 years growth. Mine has been "growing" for 35 years and it only extends to my collar bone! Linnea is about 5' 6" with long brown hair and slight in build... both nice looking people, too. It was a great pleasure to meet them... especially Jens, after 10 years of an ongoing conversation via email and once/twice a month phone calls the last few years. I have relatively inexpensive long distance rates... 10 cents a minute overseas, so talking for an hour is $6 well spent, sez I! Our mutual interest in music of the 60's/70's and the fact we are both record dealers was our initial grounds for rapport. Jens has a website wherein 3-4 times a year, he posts lists of LPs for sale. We have traded records for about ten years, also.
They live in an amazingly beautiful old 2 storey house; cook on a 3 foot cube wood cook stove set upon blocks and their furnace is cylindrical and about three times the size of a U.S. water heater... it has its own closet. Winter is very long and it gets very cold, so, they burn a LOT of wood, which Jens cuts to specific lengths. The floors and walls are knotty spruce and there are many windows and high ceilings. A trapdoor in the kitchen leads to a root cellar. The first floor has 3 rooms; one for Linnea's loom, another for Jens' amazing record collection.
It was in the 20's/low 30's and sunny most of each day and toasty inside... tho' a coupla days were intensely windy. One of those evenings, Jens and I walked an icy road 1 1/2 miles to buy some milk and eggs from two different farms; the first was the milk guy... quite a character! He told me of his travel all around the U.S. by train in the 70's and how he landed in NYC, got a $20 room and soon discovered it was an area one might not want to be in during the DAY time!... got accosted by a street dealer, which he got past, then he approached a buncha Rasta guys... he went right up and asked if one of 'em was Bob Marley's brother... the right move... he then got "shown the ropes"... funny guy! So, we began walking back toward home into this 40+ mph wind and by this time it was in the teens... The eggman was friendly tho' our visit with him was brief. For sure, it was the toughest mile and a half I've walked yet!
June was there 3 days and I, 5. She was invited to be an adviser to a conference in Stockholm by an international organization, Ashoka, which facilitates actions like getting 500,000 pairs of glasses to people in India with the goal to get them to 5 million. It was scheduled for March 26-28th, so we planned the trip to be in Sweden several days beforehand. Interestingly enough, several weeks beforehand, we'd been discussing the possibility of going to Sweden in July, but there were conflicts. Then, The Serendipity Train choogled on up and we be chooglin'!! Also, I had just made enough moolah selling records through my friend, Michael's ebay auctions, to pay for my ticket to ride!
One day we drove about 45 minutes to a nature preserve which has a winding wooden walkway past lime green lichen covered rocks and stunted birch and pine to a high point with a really cool old lighthouse overlooking the ocean. The rich, deep blue color of the water wrapped around to a peninsular bay to the north, which was still frozen... it had an iceberg blue-green edge and was snow topped... it looked almost tropical, like surf/white sand.
I bought a digital camera (used) earlier in the fall and brought it along for the travel, but it hasn't sunk in deeply enough yet for me to remember to keep it with me, even though I really wanted to take pictures. I managed to be more fully present than usual while there and forgot about the camera... when i finally DID remember to take it on an excursion, I'd forgotten how to work the fooken thing! C'est la vie! Only on the bus ride to Sundsvall (soons vol), where I caught the train back to Stockholm did I pull it out and recall how it works... took a coupla pics!
We made very nice food each day. Their "daily bread" is Wasa... a flat, crisp, round loaf of maybe a dozen pieces the size of a large pizza... I'd eaten this type of bread many times, but eating it everyday was new to me and I really like it... gonna expand my diet to include eating more of it! I made a couple of meals, which they enjoyed. With one of them, Linnea made a delicious apple/red currant pie, which we polished off in a jiffy! She and I exchanged "language lessons" everyday... she taught me how to pronounce many Swedish words and I taught her a buncha American expressions, like "up shit creek without a paddle" or "right up my alley". Our conversations mirrored how much my everyday speech is riddled with this stuff!
Part of each evening was spent listening to records... Most everything Jens played for me was much to my liking. I made a list of about 30 titles, which will eventually be made into cdrs for my listening pleasure. Of these, I noted a "top ten" to be made in descending order. I've looked at zillions of records over the years and had never seen 90% of these. His big musical interests are 70's U.S./Canadian private press folk/folk rock and psychedelic. He also had an impressive collection of books about the U.S. counter-culture/alternative western culture in general and some of the decor in their house reflects this interest. Over the years, I've sent him various imagery of this nature and I was honored to see some of it on display.
The time really zip-da-dee-doo-da'd along and on the 26th, they kindly gave me a ride to Umeå... 8 hours later, I arrived at the train station in downtown Stockholm... a buzzy place with the first signs of spring floating in the air. I was maybe within 5 minutes of the hotel, walking along, lost in thought, when June's smiling face entered my visual field... what a nice surprise! She said I even did a little jump!
Back to business... what follows is a list of some of the better titles I've sold over the years, and it also serves as an indicator of the kind of stuff I always need to get hold of: Catapilla, Raw Material, Marsupilami, Pete Brown & Piblokto!, Titus Groan, Cressida, Web, Gravy Train, Spriguns, Jeronimo, Annexus Quam, Out Of Focus, Flower Travellin' Band, Asoka, November, Turid, Älgarnas Trädgård, Fläsket Brinner, Freedom Singers, Stenblomma, Atlas, Vatten, Fifty Foot Hose, Savage Resurrection, Yankee Dollar, Woodbine, Fallen Angels, Tangerine Zoo, Demian, Sweet Air, Sheila Na Gig, Arthur Blessitt & Eternal Rush, Boot, Troll, Don Robertson, Ghostriders, Banchee, Floating Bridge, Fort Mudge Memorial Dump, Ultimate Spinach, Freak Scene, Träd, Gräs & Stenar, Bobby Callender, Friendsound, William Eaton, Renhjärta, Deerfield, John Erik Axelsson, Fluid Ounces, Kontinuerlig Drift, Perception, Flied Egg, Harvester, Brendan Doyle, Mark Thompson, White Wing, Aina, Dagens Rätt, Pondus, Orang-Utan, Paper Garden, Panta Rei, John's Children, Tea Company, Bacon Fat, Faust, Life, Tom Lucas, Doug McArthur, Bazar, John Southern, Human Beast, Kent Harrison Boyles, Franz Böntgen, Granicus, Sage, Chariot, Hurdy Gurdy, Trader Horne, Råg I Ryggen, Frogs, Gandalf, Sower, Tetelestai, Highway Robbery, Nirvana, Washed, Robin Woodland, Blessed End, The Dream, First Revelation, Hansson & Karlsson, Nosy Parker, Sapphire Thinkers, Top Topham, Tree People, Tom Angelo, Michaels & Hack, Mind Expanders, The Trees, Neu!, Gods, Honeybee Ridge, Mad River, New Creation, Drago Mlinarec, Archimedes Badkar, Tom Hunnicutt, The David, Spiritwood,John Berberian, JD Blackfoot, Cry 3, International Harvester, Light, A. Paul Ortega, Arbete & Fritid, Festen På Gärdet, Affinity, Jan & Lorraine, Saga, Ebbanfloo, Between, Mark Henley, Jasper Wrath, King George Discovery, Comus, Peace, Bread & Land, West Coast Pop Art Experimental Band, A Passing Fancy, Rockvattnä, Wendy & Bonnie, Kali Bahlu, Baraka, Blackhorse, Cambridge, Douglas Cotler, Frolk Haven, Maypole, The Bridge, Siddha, Sweet Marie, Cy Timmons, Moses Whisperwood, Pleasant Street, McAllen, Harmonia, Downliners Sect, Michael Dobbins, Animated Egg, Collegium Musicum, Nanda Malini Gokula, Heldon, D.R. Hooker, McKinney, Saint Steven, Olof Andersson, Dice, Kak, Christopher Montgomery, John Peterson, Winged Stallion, The Floor, L.D. Dugger, Harumi, Jove, Gary Nieland, Rick Stanley, Bobby's Blues Band, John St. Rockets, Red Pony, Gilles Boisvert, Little Free Rock, Bill Madison, Tom, Dan & The Three Man Band, News, Concern, Greg Yoder, Shiva's Headband, Ykä, Risto Ja Liisa, Neptune's Empire, Condello, Underground, Grand Yet, Jigsaw, Red Squares, Rick Penta, Bob Patterson, Mountain Angel Band, Randy Palmer, Joe Jammer, Fela Kuti, Cos, Anthony & Scott, Suzanne Prince, Shelagh McDonald, Cosmic Debris, Windflower, Didi Favreau, Tiffany Shade, Chief Commander Ebenezer Obey, Victims Of Chance, Belinda, Day Blindness, Chirco, Long Time Comin', Southern Steel, Washington Apple, Lazy Day, Bluebyrd, Pussycats, Alice, John Villemonte, Thunder & Roses, Rhythm & Bliss, Bob Frank, Neighb'rhood Childr'n, Street Theatre, Harbinger, Message, Square Root Of Nine, Superfine Dandelion, Trusty, December's Children, Giles, Giles & Fripp, Embryo, Rick & Jean Sutton, Gerrit Van Triest, Jed, Heartglow, Troyka, Danny Hernandez & The Ones, Honeybus, Dr. K's Blues Band, Zoot Money's Big Roll Band, Levande Livet, Christine Perfect, Egg, Zombies, John Lyons & The Blue Diamonds, Rick Cormier, Pandora, Drra På, Junco Partners, Wallin & Frid, Huckle, Kvartetten Som Sprängde, Ibis, Spela Själv, Randy & The Goats, Epsilon, Moose Loose, Patrick Victor, Mythos, Finnforest, Release Music Orchestra, Om Shanti, Walrus, Mason, Wheatridge, Folly's Pool, Bättre Lyss, Claudette et ti Pierre, Tripsichord, Masala Dosa, Staffan Harde, Eternity's Children, Raz Khelgat, William Hull, Scorpion, Nature, Lucas Sideras, Don Ebbett, Froggie Beaver, Megaton… and many, many more.
I hope you will find my selection of records interesting enough to get in touch. The more you buy the better I get… like the Dead used to sing: the music never stops.
Let it shine,