The most recent visit to Sweden stays with me more than three weeks after my return. In great part, that is because music I heard at the Ystad Sweden Jazz Festival refuses to leave my head. A piece played in Ystad by more than one group hangs on persistently and delightfully. It is “De Sålde Sina Hemman,” also known in Sweden as “Imigrantvisa.” It is a traditional song associated with Swedish people who joined the migration to The United States from the late 19th century into the 1920s—well more than a million of them. Here we see a section of The Emigrants by the popular artist S. V. Helander (1839–1901) showing a young farmer bidding a sober farewell to friends and relatives.
Many Americans first became aware of the song when Art Farmer made it a part of his 1964 album To Sweden With Love under the title “They Sold Their Homestead.” Like much Swedish folk music, it manages to be lilting with a tinge of sadness. It’s a melody that stays with you, whether or not you have been to Sweden. Farmer’s quartet includes Jim Hall, guitar; Steve Swallow, bass; and Pete LaRoca, drums. If you get a content warning, simply click on “Watch on YouTube.”
Have a good weekend.