Over the last number of months, I’ve been lucky to get the chance to write, produce and present a podcast for American independent record label Secretly Canadian, all about the life and music of one of my favourite artists, Swedish indie-pop singer-songwriter Jens Lekman.
Specifically, a two-part miniseries – a highly unusual project that Lekman undertook over the last few years, to basically remake two of his best-known and best-loved albums – the 2005 compilation Oh You’re So Silent Jens, which contains some of his early breakout singles, and his most critically and commercially successful release 2007’s Night Falls Over Kortedala, which was hailed by Pitchfork and The Guardian as one of the best albums of its era.
For reasons you’ll discover if you listen to the podcast – essentially to do with rights issues around samples, which featured heavily in Lekman’s music at that time – both of those albums now no longer exist in their original form. In their place rise two wonderful, let’s say adapted, versions of the records with problematic samples removed, fleshed out with additional rare bonus material and now respectively re-titled The Cherry Trees Are Still In Blossom and The Linden Trees Are Still In Blossom. The same albums, just different.
In advance of the new albums being announced a few weeks ago, Lekman with minimal fuss and ceremony deleted Night Falls Over Kortedala from digital services forever (Oh You’re So Silent Jens had been taken down years earlier).
In a moment, millions of streaming stats were dumped, holes were left in playlists, and fans were left scratching their heads as to the fate of a record which had meant so much to so many.
Had another artist ever before committed such an act of commercial and artistic self-sacrifice? Turns out that, actually, several had. In a strand of research which never made it into the podcast in the end, here’s a roundup of other well-known musicians who sent whole albums to the grave for their own very individual reasons.