Henk Hofstede reflects on the 20 songs brought together on Nest

1. Broken Wing (1995)

'Broken Wing I wrote specifically for this album. A Dylan Tribute. Very Dylanesque in its way of summing up things. I really see this as a piece by a live band. It marks the rebirth of the electrical guitar with Nits. It brings another level to this album.'

2. J.O.S. Days (1987 In The Dutch Mountains)

'Out of all the songs we recorded this one is one of our most likeable. That little neighbourhood, the soccer club, the past, the war. As far as writing lyrics is concerned, this was somewhat of a breakthrough. Writing a complete story out of a very simple idea. I remember the demo we recorded at the end of the day, bwaaargghh! It just didn't sound right. I decided to sit in a car with a microphone and sing from there. That's what made it sound so dry and intimate.'

3. Adieu Sweet Bahnhof (1984 Adieu Sweet Bahnhof)

'This may not be our biggest hit, but it certainly is the most beautiful one we had. A real evergreen. It doesn't really belong in the repertoire of popmusic, but it's a very complete song. Adieu Sweet Bahnhof simply sounds right.'

4. Bike In Head (1986 Henk)

'A key track because Henk was such an important album to us. We have been playing this song live ever since we recorded it and the audience always reacts strong to it. Officially Bike In Head doesn't register as a hit, but to me it is one. Whenever you can play a song seven years in a row without it losing its excitement, then it deserves some recognition.'

5. Nescio (1983 Omsk)

'To us this is an important song. Another one of those recording sessions where you start changing things on the spot, with some magical results. Nescio was and still is our biggest hit in the Netherlands. It's in the Dutch Top 100 of all times. That's great, isn't it. Alongside Child In Time, Stairway To Heaven and Hey Jude.'

6. The Dream (1988 Hat)

'On Quest you can find a forerunner of The Dream. It's called The Concrete Brothers, a song about the concrete firm of the Hofstede Brothers. The Downfall of the family business. Later on The Concrete Brothers transformed to The Dream.'

7. A Touch Of Henry Moore (1983 Omsk)

'This is the song to listen to when you want to hear Omsk in one song. It's got so many things going on, all sorts of stuff we never did before. Female vocals, certain drums... And the song keeps returning in different forms. A Touch Of Henry Moore is some sort of blueprint that we can draw inspiration from for years on end. I'm still surprised by it.'

8. Mask (1989 Urk)

'This is the version from Urk with the Amsterdam Saxophone Quartet. A beautiful combination. We were not satisfied with the original version on Adieu Sweet Bahnhof. It took us some time before we started playing Mask live. Without any frills, which made it a much better song, much clearer. And the Quartet took it to another level altogether. Enough reason to put this version on the compilation.'

9. In The Dutch Mountains (1987 In The Dutch Mountains)

'The tribute to the watergraafsmeer neighbourhood in Amsterdam. In the fifties it was very quiet, rather shut off from the outside world. A village inside a big city. The neighbourhood where I grew up.'

10. The Bauhaus Chair (1988 Hat)

'Another song from Hat. Because it was somewhat of a crucial album to the Nits. The Bauhaus Chair is an all time favourite. There are some song you just can't leave out.'

11. Soap Bubble Box (1992 Ting)

Soap Bubble Box represents the lighter side of Ting. Those past few months I worked my way through all our old tapes. I came upon lots of things, amongst which the Ting tapes. I think Ting may be the most difficult, but also the most beautiful album Nits ever made. It's the most interesting, for sure. There's something very subtle to it. Certain parts have a timing that we couldn't copy even if we tried our best. A feature you may find on some old Sinatra recordings. Where it's impossible to just sing along.'

12. Radio Shoes (1990 Giant Normal Dwarf)

'Disappear in the infinite shoeblack, a metaphor. One of the singles from Giant Normal Dwarf, The first album we recorded after Joke left. A colourful fairy tale.'

13. Sketches Of Spain (1983 Kilo)

'A song from the Kilo sessions. Around that time we started playing Acres Of Tintoretto in a kind of popversion. Sketches was going that way as well and that made me think we had to do it differently. I walked into the woods near Wisseloord Studios and started thinking. Later we changed things around in the studio and recorded Sketches in almost one take. A glorious moment. No, it has nothing to do with Miles Davis, although I played that album of his a lot back then. No, our Sketches Of Spain has more to do with Barcelona.'

14. Red Tape (1981 Work)

'Red Tape brings to mind a period in which we used a lot of drum machines. Endless experiments with synthesizers at home. The song was recorded for the most part at home and later on polished off in the studio. It's a nice display of the early eighties.'

15. The Train (1988 Hat)

'Especially in these day of autumn, Hat is my favourite Nits album. In all it's a striking album. A sort of winter's tale. The Train was originally attached to Oom-Pah-Pah Men. A strange story of a man who drowns and later comes back as some kind of ghost. We played The Train for quite some time without knowing how to end the story. It just stopped. Then Robert-Jan brought the train in. Let's just finish it like that, we thought.'

16. Da Da Da (1994 dA dA dA)

'I can't think of this song anymore without the image of the videoclip that goes with it. I worked so long on it. That beam with Helsinki as a backdrop. There are certain things on Da Da Da that I'd like to do better. It's a live album, actually. And some songs deserve a more intimate atmosphere.'

17. Giant Normal Dwarf (1990 Giant Normal Dwarf)

'Illustrative song to the album of the same name. Somehow it has enormous colour. Opening up a cloth... A transparent lightness... The little iceskating story in the videoclip goes well with that. It may sound weird but when I really feel like listening to one of our records, I put on either Ting or Giant Normal Dwarf. Both albums are complicated puzzles to me. All the other albums I know by heart already.'

18. Cars & Cars (1992 Ting)

'This song keeps getting better. We also used it for Hjuvi: A Rhapsody In Time, the live album we recorded in 1992 with the Radio Symphony Orchestra. It's such a difficult song. [Laughs] Actually they're all difficult songs.'

19. Home before Dark (1989 Urk)

'The Original version is on Henk. Petra Lugtenburg sang backing vocals on that one. This live version is from Urk. Another all time favourite from the Nits songbook that can't be left out.'

20. Road Not Taken (1995)

'The last song on the album. Inspired by Robert Frost's poem of the same title. Thinking about things you did in your life, or maybe didn't, and that you're sorry about. Easily recognizable. We started playing Road Not Taken last year as an encore and have done so ever since. The story that goes with it is quite simple. A boy follows a girl up the mountain and sees her talking to a man in a house. It's not unlike a German Traumzeit tale. This song is played with the Amsterdam Saxophone Quartet as well.'

September 1995

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Jochen A. Stein, jst at nitsfans dot org
Last modified: 02-12-2003