From hometown hero to superstar
Håkan Hellström was born and raised in Gothenburg and both the city itself and its thriving music scene in the 90’s have had a significant impact on his music.
Hellström shot to fame, seemingly out of nowhere, in the year 2000 with his debut album “Känn ingen sorg för mig Göteborg”. Since its release, the beloved artist has had a motion picture made based on his music, played club gigs in New York and Berlin, set a new Nordic concert crowd record in 2016 (70 091) and received numerous awards and accolades. Oh, and British megastars Coldplay recently covered a bit of his hit single "Känn ingen sorg för mig Göteborg" during their Gothenburg gig (in Swedish, sort of).
A recurring theme throughout his music has been the city of Gothenburg. The late nights at indie clubs, trips to the beautiful archipelago and the scenic views of the city have all inspired well known lyrics. Håkan Hellström’s fame is such that many of the places he mentions become part of a fan pilgrimage of sorts. We’ve put together a guide to some of the many Gothenburg locations that feature in his music and what to do when you’re there.
Dance the night away
Håkan Hellström is an avid fan of samba rhythms and dancing in general, so let’s start by going to some of the clubs and pubs that feature in Håkan’s music. When indie music peaked in the ‘90s, indie clubs where everywhere. Most of them have since closed, including legendary Gothenburg indie club Jazzhuset (closed in 2017), a club name-checked in the hit “Kom igen Lena”.
The bar-lined street Andra långgatan is located just a short walk from the impressive stone houses of the neighbourhood Vasastan and Jazzhuset. Andra långgatans is one of the main night life hubs in Gothenburg and a favourite among thirsty locals and revelling visitors. The street is mentioned in Håkan Hellström’s song “Kom igen Lena”, and featured in the 2003 motion picture “Känn ingen sorg” which is based on his music. The parallel street Första långgatan is mentioned in the song “Dom där jag kommer ifrån”.
The area round Magasinsgatan used to be full of clubs, including one where Håkan Hellström unsuccessfully tried to impress a woman in the song ”Magasinsgatan”. Today, it’s an area with trendy interior design and fashion shops well worth a visit, with just a couple of late night haunts left.
Songs and tips
Jazzhuset, Erik Dahlbergsgatan 3 – ”Kom igen Lena” from the record ”Det är så jag säger det (2002, Dolores Recordings)
To do in the area: Take a walk in the lovely park Kungsparken on the other side of the street Nya Allén.
Andra långgatan – ”Kom igen Lena” on the record ”Det är så jag säger det (2002, Dolores Recordings)
Första långgatan – ”Dom där jag kommer från” on the record ”2 steg från paradise” (2010, Universal Music)
To do in the area: Grab a seat at one of the many bars on the street and sit and watch people come and go. You’re likely to hear at least one Hellström song.
Magasinsgatan -”Magasinsgatan” on the record ”Ett kolikbarns bekännelser” (2005, EMI).
To do in the area: Visit the inspiring shops around Magasinsgatan, not least Artilleriet, one of the most influential design shops in Sweden.
Vasastan is a beautiful neighbourhood in the middle of Gothenburg. The main street Vasagatan is always bustling with life and the surrounding city scape is made up mostly of stone houses dating back to around 1870-1920.
The area is also featured in several of Håkan Hellström’s songs, including a longing for love in the park Vasaparken in “Atombomb”, the school Schillerska Gymnasiet in “Livets teater” and a nod to the fast food joint 7:ans gatukök and a late night meal when everything else has failed in “Nu kan du få mig så lätt”.
Gothenburg’s ties to the sea are as old as they are strong, and that connection is also evident in Håkan Hellström’s music. Let’s have a look at some of the marine-themed Hellström-locations throughout the city.
The song “Mitt Gullbergs kaj paradis” describes Håkan walking along the docks of Gullbergs kaj, one of his favourite spots in Gothenburg. The dock is home to rusty boats, debris and ships undergoing maintenance.
The famous fish market ”Feskekôrka” (the fish church) is located in the middle of Gothenburg. The building is inspired by gothic churches and offers fresh fish and sea food of the highest quality. Make sure you don't miss it while in Gothenburg. Feskekôrka gets name-checked in Håkan Hellström’s song “Tro och tvivel”.
That same song also takes us out to the tip of the Saltholmen peninsula and Långedrag, where Håkan sang about sitting with the pensioners, cursing the young people passing by. From Saltholmen, you can get a ferry to Brännö, the idyllic archipelago island that gave name to Håkan’s haunting “Brännö serenad”.
If you keep going further out in the archipelago you’ll eventually reach Vinga, the western most island of the archipelago. It’s also the island where famous composer and singer Evert Taube was born. Håklan is a big admirer of Evert Taube and the island of Vinga gets a mention in the jaunty “Saknade te havs”.
Songs and tips
Gullbergs kaj, Gullbergs strandgata – ”Mitt Gullbergs kaj paradis” on the record ”Det är så jag säger det (2002, Dolores Recordings)”.
To do in the area: Cross the bridge Götaälvbron and visit the park Jubileumsparken. It’s an evolving park with new features added continuously as part of the lead up to the city’s 400th anniversary in 2021.
Feskekôrka, Fisktorget 4 – ”Tro och Tvivel” on the record ”För sent för Edelweiss” (2008, EMI).
To do in the area: Cross the moat and explore the quaint area Haga, full of cosy shops and cafés.
Långedrags Paviljong, Talattagatan 14 – ” Tro och Tvivel” on the record ”För sent för Edelweiss” (2008, EMI).
To do in the area: Take a walk to Saltholmen and sit down on the cliffs or get a ferry and explore the southern archipelago.
Brännö – ”Brännö serenad” on the record ”Ett kolikbarns bekännelser” (2005, EMI)”.
To do in the area: Go dancing at the famous Brännö brygga, immortalized by singer / songwriter Lasse Dahlqvist
Vinga – ”Saknade te havs” on the record”2 steg från paradise” (2010, Universal Music)”.
To do in the area: Visit the childhood home of Evert Taube, today a popular museum.
The view from the top
Let’s end this tour of Håkan’s Gothenburg by visiting a few spots with great views.
The island of Hisingen gets a mention in “När lyktorna tänds”. It’s a rather large island and home to many great spots. Go up the hill Ramberget, from where you’ll get a splendid view of the Gothenburg skyline and the river Göta älv.
The square Stigbergstorget and the street Stigbergsliden are located in the western parts of the city centre, and mentioned in “Zigenarliv dreamin’”. From here you’ll be able to view the rolling street Karl Johansgatan and you’ll spot the bridge Älvsborgsbron in the distance.
Slottsskogen city park is a favourite among locals and when you see the vast green open spaces it’s not hard to understand why. The Azalea valley where the azaleas bloom in May/early June is a popular spo. In “Valborg” Hellström suggests that it’s so beautiful, it’s impossible to not fall in love when you’re there. Slottsskogen city park also hosts the annual music festival Way out west where Håkan has performed several times, along with several international superstars.
Sports are a big part of Gothenburg and the city hosts several professional teams in many different sports, among them football. Håkan Hellström was a promising young player for green and black-striped GAIS, and he still supports the “Mackerels”. The club has adopted the song “Gårdakvarnar och skit” as their anthem, and it’s played when the players enter the pitch of the home stadium Gamla Ullevi.
Songs and tips
Hisingen –”När lyktorna tänds” on the record ”Det kommer aldrig va över för mig” (2013, Universal).
To do in the area: Go for a walk along the waterfront from Lindholmen to Eriksberg or head to the neighbourhood Kvillebäcken and check out all the tasty treats at the Kville market hall.
Stigbergsliden – ”Zigenarliv dreamin’” on the record ”För sent för Edelweiss” (2008, EMI).
To do in the area: Discover the cosy neighbourhood Majorna and its many shops, cafés and restaurants.
Azalea – ”Valborg” on the record ”Det kommer aldrig va över för mig” (2013, Universal).
To do in the area: Explore Slottsskogen, and when you’re done you can cross the road and check out one of the best botanical gardens in northern Europe.
Gamla Ullevi –”Gårdakvarnar och skit” on the record ”Ett kolikbarns bekännelser” (2005, EMI).
Att göra i närheten: Walk to the other, larger Ullevi arena (built originally for the 1958 world cup) and have a look at where Håkan Hellström set his Nordic crowd record in 2016, and where he’ll perform again in 2017.
Just can’t get enough?
If you want even more Håkan Hellström visit the interactive exhibition Klubbland at Liseberg Amusement Park, dedicated to the artist and his career.
Foto: Sören Håkanlind
Lyssna på låtarna via Spotify