Being Per Gessle

That’s Att Vara Per Gessle. I looked to see if the book by Sven Lindström has been translated, but it seems not, which is a shame. On the other hand, maybe too few people around the world would want to read such a tome. To be honest, I don’t think I would have, had it not been for the shared connection of Halmstad as home town.

Halmstad isn’t all we share. Looking at the class photo from 1968 I felt it could have been mine, and whereas I didn’t wear glasses back then, Per could have been me. We lived near each other, but there is two and a half years between us. Like me, Per seems to have started school a year early. His handwritten list of LPs could almost have been mine.

But that’s where the similarities stop. Reading Att Vara Per Gessle is hard at the best of times, simply due to its sheer size. Beautifully designed, every page looks like the cover of an LP. The paper is thick and heavy, and the almost 300 pages take time to work your way through. Personally I’d have found it easier without the design, but there is no getting round the fact that it looks good.

So, I’ve been at it a few years now, reading in fits and bursts when I felt up to balancing the book. It’s so full of facts, that you occasionally need to distance yourself from too many numbers. Per is a fanatic who keeps track of everything, and the book is much the same, complete with a CD.

I have enjoyed it enormously. It’s both interesting to see all that goes on behind the scenes of success, as well as a ridiculous feeling of pride that a local boy made quite so good.

The book has everything, from Per’s early years at home in Halmstad to his current – rather fancier – home in Halmstad. See, he went far, but he didn’t go too far in the geographical sense. That’s nice. You can be a small town boy and an international star.

I knew Gyllene Tider as an even more local boy band, from Harplinge. That’s when I paid any attention to them at all. The fans phoned the hairdresser’s where I was having my hair cut, asking if the hairdresser’s son (drummer) was at home. Annoying, I thought.

After that I was half aware of Roxette, Per’s group with Marie Fredriksson. And by the time he started on his solo career, Offspring were interested in him and his music, so I was almost not behind at all.

Suffice it to say that I had no inkling that there was so much work behind something ‘simple’ like a new album, or a tour. To this non-musical music listener the background information has been a real eye-opener. Also realised I’ve only listened to a fraction of Per’s music, so might have to look into some more now that I know where it’s come from.

This might be a ‘warts and all’ book. I don’t know. There are plenty of warts, but it may not be all the warts. It’s reassuring to see that not all was rosy, and it’s salutary to discover that things went wrong, too.

Per Gessle and Sven Lindström signing Att Vara Per Gessle

Fun and informative, and for someone from the same time and place it’s much more than the rise of a star. (Just wish my childhood memories of Per’s hotel could have been left in peace.)

And I have considerably fewer tracks on my iPod than Per has on his.


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