In Brexit Britain, one song is the anthem for our age: The Final Countdown by the Swedish band named, fittingly enough, Europe. We asked frontman and songwriter Joey Tempest to ruminate on the strangely prophetic lyrics of the rock classic…
“We’re leaving together but still it’s farewell”
I was born in Sweden but I consider London and the UK my home. I married an English girl and I’ve paid taxes for many many years. I’m a domicile but I don’t have a British passport. If I’d had the vote I’d be a Remainer. I’m in the music business, I’m an entertainer. Musicians all over the world, we write for each other and it doesn’t matter what country you’re from. Music is a free place and therefore we don’t want to fence anybody in.
“And maybe we’ll come back to Earth, who can tell?”
I think maybe some people have changed their mind already. It could be a rough and tumble year coming up, finding new trade deals with partners and rewriting the whole EU/UK parallel laws. There is going to be a transition and maybe during that transition there may be things happening to certain people that they didn’t expect.
“I guess there is no one to blame”
My personal view is that maybe the vote should have been about freedom of movement instead of just leaving or not leaving. It shouldn’t have been that black and white. Maybe it should have been about putting pressure on the EU. The EU should have had some different policy regarding freedom of movement because we had this big exodus and it’s difficult to handle when too many people come at the same time. But I believe in integration – this is what we do. The planet integrates and it will happen no matter what you do. But who’s to blame? Good question.
“We’re leaving ground (leaving ground) will things ever be the same again?”
No, it’s not going to be the same again. If this is going through, everything’s going to be rewritten, trading deals will need to be redone, it’s a new future.
“It’s the final countdown”
Just a quick run through of how I came up with the lyric. It was a spin-off of one of the first singles I bought, Space Oddity by David Bowie. He sang about leaving Earth and floating in a tin can. I remember being fascinated by Bowie’s fascination with space. But I was young, there are some tongue-in-cheek lines in there. But we’ll get to that…
“We’re heading for Venus (Venus) and still we stand tall”
When I was young, my dad was always talking about Churchill, always talking about the Second World War and how strong the Brits were. He drummed that into me when I was a kid. And at the same time, I had all my music heroes coming from the UK so for me it was a mythical place. What I’m trying to say is the UK is probably one of the countries that could handle this even if it is very difficult. The UK’s resilience, stubbornness, and the integrity is hard to match in any other country.
“Cause maybe they’ve seen us (seen us) and welcome us all”
Like someone said, perhaps this vote was a mistake, but not a disaster. There are ways around the EU in that sense.
“With so many light years to go and things to be found (to be found)”
I think it will be quite a long time of sorting it out. And maybe some people will benefit from this happening but some people will definitely not. It’ll be ups and downs for a while.
“I’m sure that we’ll all miss her so”
What we miss will probably emerge in the five or 10 years after. What worked better and what didn’t work better. Some things will reveal themselves.
“The Final Countdown”
The song took a life of its own. It has been used by political parties – both Hillary and Trump used it. The song has started to be played more around new year, for new beginnings, but the ironic thing is it’s not really that positive. It’s melancholy, in a minor key. In the Seventies, Eighties and Nineties a big fat chunk of the money was record sales but that’s not happening any more. I’ve noted that commercials, TV and movies bring in more these days. I suppose if it gets played more on radio and TV that brings in more royalties. The name Europe wasn’t anything political, but it’s funny how everything comes together. We’re called Europe and we have The Final Countdown song, it’s crazy.