Helan Går


A few weeks ago while sitting at work, suddenly the song 'Do Your Ears Hang Low?' popped into my head for no apparent reason. It's known to us as a childhood nursery rhyme and often thought of as referring to a hound dog, but there are a lot more verses than just the original one most people know — in some versions anyway, and there are always many versions of folk songs available. I suppose that's testament to a culture of passing over knowledge verbally rather than visually through words, but in our current age we need to record things in such a way so that we don't lose them to the ravages of time.

But I digress. As is typical, there are also cruder versions of this folk song (called parodies, but I don't know if I believe that), and it manifests itself in this drinking song here. This led me on a hunt for some more interesting drinking songs — particularly Irish ones. Although drinking in itself can seem like a crude kind of culture in Australia where people drink themselves under the table for seemingly fun, in other countries this is not necessarily the case. Songs such as '99 Bottles of Beer on the Wall' don't seem to hold much charm, but in other countries drinking songs always seem so merry and cheerful.

For instance, Helan Går, a popular Swedish drinking song is embedded above and I like the upbeat tones with the voices harmonising in the background. Not to mention the fact that I find the language intriguing of course, but it's interesting that nowadays rather than these songs being sung as people partook of their liquor sensibly, choirs have picked up these songs either standalone or in a medley with other songs.

Choirs have the numbers and the skill to provide harmonisation to the original song, but at the same time, they seem to lose that overall 'upbeat' quality. Although the upbeat quality is present at several points in the song, the song is slowed down and there is quite a bit more focus on the technique of the choir as a whole rather than the sense of spirit and energy.

While I'll never partake of alcohol personally, this song if none other seems like it could be interesting to learn. Good thing I don't belong in a choir anymore. Meanwhile, see if you can figure out the joke in this song I did learn in choir...