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Celebrate Walpurgis!

Jonas Söderström (Stockholm)

Jonas was a latecomer to the Walpurgis celebrations: as he wrote, 'I've just ... read the lovely Repent Walpurgis stories on BtP, and wanted to share this:'

I heard Repent Walpurgis on Swedish national radio, exactly at midnight between Christmas Eve and Christmas Day, probably in the early seventies. In Sweden, Christmas Eve is the big day of celebration (contrary to many other countries). That's when Santa Claus arrives, you get all your parcels, eat the special Christmas dinner etc.

And this must have been a good Christmas. I don't remember exactly what happened, but I still remember how happy and excited I was. And tired. I had just gone to bed; I remember the feeling of the clean, cool, newly-ironed sheets.

And then I just wanted to listen to something on the radio before going to sleep. During those early years, Swedish radio was fairly conservative during daytime. At night, more interesting music was sometimes played. So I turned out the lights and turned my radio on - not too loud, not to disturb anyone else.

The sound of breaking waves, hitting some beach, flowed out of the radio. And then, Repent Walpurgis started, with the waves still sounding under the music. Then the music took control. But during Gary's piano break - I think - the waves returned. Maybe after the finale too, I don't remember any longer. But I do remember my reaction. The mix was astounding; the moment was magic, the feeling was sacred. I could tell even the announcer, coming on after the music - the waves? - finally faded, was also touched.

I have no idea who the master producer was behind this stroke of genius. Would I like to hear the same mix again? Yes - or maybe no: the magic was there, then. I have a feeling it could be a gimmick that one would grow tired of, if one had to hear those waves every time you listened to it. In the long run, less is often more.

After Walpurgis, they played Strawberry Fields Forever. Strawberry Fields Forever is, quite rightly, considered to be the peak of the Beatles' achievements. And to me, its correct place will always be just there: second in line, just after Repent Walpurgis.

Jonas Söderström

More Walpurgis revels here

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