Here are some longer texts listed for your convenience. They are linked
below as well.
A Touch of Henry Moore
Henk visited the atelier of Barbara Hepworth in Saint Yves and links the
warm atmosphere there with the sculptures of Henry Moore in the
statuegarden near the Kroller Moller Museum in Holland.
Henry Moore (1898 - 1986) was a famous British sculptor and carver. In
the song, there's a line a reclining figure. The French for
figure could well be figure etendue,
and (la/une/) figure etendue is a sculpture by Henry Moore!
It can be seen at the
UNESCO building in Paris.
Indoor Painting, Outdoor Sketching
Ceci nest pas une pipe' (This is not a pipe) is the title
of a very famous painting of Rene Magritte, the great(est) Belgian
modern painter of the 20st century. The painting shows a huge...pipe.
The title is to be read as a provoking statement. Ceci n'est pas une
pipe, while everyone can clearly see it is a pipe. But Magritte says it
isn't a pipe but an artwork, and that is not a pipe, not an article of
The statement and the painting are both well known and were very
important in the history of modern painting. You can see more Magritte
in the WebMuseum
or Magritte Homepage.
Soap Bubble Box
Artwork by Joseph
Cornell, they are on exhibit in the MOMA (museum of modern art in
NY). Also read Derek Martin's
review of Joseph Cornells biography.
Title of a painting by Andrew Wyeth, American artist born 1917. The
picture shows a crippled woman in a meadow crawling towards a house. It
is on display at the MOMA.
The Bauhaus was a German University for building and design (Hochschule
für Bau und Gestaltung) from 1919 to 1933. Famous teachers were
Itten, Moholy, Kandinsky, Klee and Schlemmer. The Bauhaus style was a
return to the essentials, no ornaments, straigt lines. This song was
written in 1975, was on the demo the Nits showed Dureco. The song was never
recorded after that before Hat.
Office at night (on New Flat)
This is a painting by the American painter Edward Hopper. Also has to
do with his painting Night Hawks.
Potato Eaters (B-side of Sleep single)
Early painting by
now in Kroller Moller Museum.
Acres of Tinteretto
(real name Jacopo Robusti) was a Venitian painter and lived
from 1518 to 1594. He combined the drawing of Michelangelo and the
colours of Titian into unique works, most of which are still on
display in Venice.
in Venice, (Morte a Venezia). Book by Thomas Mann and movie of
Luchino Visconti with Gustav von Aschenbach (Dirk Bogarde) falling madly
in love with a Polish boy (Bjoern Andresen). Very good movie, made in
Look Now: thriller by Daphne du Maurier and movie by Nicolas Roeg
(1973). With Julie Christie and Donald Sutherland. About parents of a
drowned child, who travel to Venice. Also the phrase midget with a
new stiletto will become clear if you watch the movie.
dA dA dA
Henk gave three possible meanings for the title of this song and album.
The art form called dadaism was one, the mumblings of a baby was another,
and the Russian word da (meaning yes) was
Probably inspired by the film The
Lodger made by Alfred Hitchcock. The story of the film takes place
in a town where a murderer like Jack the Ripper wanders around. He has
killed several women, always blonde. One day a mysterious man rents a
room in a guesthouse. Gradually the manager suspects him to be the
Long Forgotten Story, Yöpöllö, De Rode Vaas, The Yellow
Dennis Versteeg has written an
about the arc across these songs.
Some info also appears on the
pages, select Cohen in Finland and then
Leonard Cohen in radio and tv.
The Night Owl refers to
who has lived on and
off in Greece for years, and who is, of course, the man who wrote
This song also mentions the "friend from Finland", which is
Seppo Pietikäinen. He has been involved with many culture-oriented
tv programs, unsually has been one of the host and/or writers. One was a
pop-music program with live performances and videos. It was made with a
purpose to make a 'better' pop-program. The Nits performed live there,
playing some songs from dA dA dA, just before it was released. Other
programs by Seppo Pietikäinen are said to have been eccentric and
You can hear Seppo in the song Yöpöllö,
which is essentially Night Owl with Finnish talk-over.
Seppo also released an album which featured Henk singing backing vocals.
This album may be titled Sutra by a band called
Freelance, published 1988 on a Finnish label Bang Trax.
The Young Reporter
The lyrics to the young reporter are about a real reporter named
Fer Abrahams (or something like that), he was working for the music
magazine OOR and is/was a friend of Henk and the Nits.
Now he works for dutch radio3, he is in the production team of
arbeidsvitaminen, a program that plays old songs. It is BTW
the radioprogram with the most listeners in holland.
Fer also did the interview with Henk
for the nits in Concert CD.
As mentioned by Henk on the Roskilde festival in Denmark, the song is also
based on the famous Kuifje/TinTin cartoons by Herge in which the main
character is a reporter who gets into the most spectacular adventures.
Letter to E.
Henk wrote this song several years ago as a wedding present for a friend
A CD was compiled for him, where each of his friends contribute a song
about the women in Eric's life. He had many girlfriends from Italy, they
were called Flavia, Antonella, and their names ended on an A. In 1996
Henk and Eric met in Bern, Henk played the song live for the first time
and it was a wonderful experience. Later Eric allowed Henk to put the
song on the new album.
Walter and Conny
Walter and Conny, the instrumental tune written by Robert
Jan Stips on the Omsk album, originally had lyrics! They were alternately
sung by Henk, Robert Jan and Michiel.
The characters Walter and Conny were two English teachers on Dutch tv a long
time ago (60s or 70s). The lyrics tell about what might have happened to
Walter and Conny
(HH: Henk Hofstede, RJS: Robert Jan Stips, MP: Michiel Peters)
HH: Who is this man in the back all alone in the back of the movies?
RJS: Stiff nose up, his upper lip looks familiar.
RJS: The words he speaks and then repeats come from long ago.
MP: Who is this man in the back all alone in the back of the movies?
RJS: A light's still on in a cornwall hotel room.
RJS: The words he speaks and then repeats come from long ago.
MP: While Conny's on her second honeymoon,
MP: Walter falls into another (....?).
RJS: Nobody knows what has happened to Walter and Conny.
MP: While Conny's on her second honeymoon,
MP: Walter falls into another (....?).
RJS: Who is this man in the back all alone in the back of the movies?
This version of the song is a little buit shorter than the released one, but
the music is exactly the same. Just try to sing these lines over the various
melodies and you'll see they fit! (For instance: the 'who is that man..'
goes right over the melody that is played with the whistle sound).
Home Before Dark
This song was inspired by a Swedish gas station and the people from
there. Everytime the Nits drive past Sweden (to Finland usually) they
stop at this same gas station and visit these people.
Whales of Tadoussac
This song refers to real whales in a place in Canada, called Tadoussac.
Tadoussac is a small town at the entrance of the Saguenay river, which
is about 5-6 hours north of Montreal. The Nits were touring there and
were invited by a friend named Daniel, who owns a club down there,
called the "Atomic". One day he took them on a boat to go and
see the Whales of Tadoussac. But to see the whales, they had to be
patient and wait for many hours. This experience impressed the group and
back in the hotel room, they wrote this song. Also, check the picture section and read the
full story by
Adieu Sweet Bahnhof
This song is about the train between Amsterdam and Paris. The Centre
Pompidou (also known as Beaubourg) is the Paris centre of modern art. It
has permanent expositions on modern art (painters, sculptors,
photographers). The building looks very strange with all kinds of
coloured pipes. The Gare du Nord is a train station, where all trains
from the North (Netherlands, Belgium, Northern Germany) arrive. Finally,
the Hotel d'Angleterre is a hotel in the centre of Paris, in St Germain
des Pres, not far from the river Seine. Ernest Hemingway stayed there
and it has a famous staircase. Seems to have lost some glory by now.
Also, ASB is mentioned in this poem by Wilfred Smit (1933-1972):
Drijft men dan steeds verder
uit elkaar? Het afscheid schuift
een opdringrige oom tussen ons in.
sluit de ogen af - ja dit is vlucht,
een handvol kaarten laten vallen
omdat men in onze vingers knipt.
wurg alle lichten - rasse schreden
maakt mijn vertrek, reusachtig,
als op stelten wadend door de mist.
adieu adieu sweet bahnhof-
een convooi melaatsen wacht
in alle stilte de nalaatste trein
Torni is the name of an old restaurant in the centre of Helsinki
and also a hotel with a famous view over the city. The
Nits have performed many times in Helsinki and probably grabbed their
Alankomaat is Finnish for The Netherlands, and this song contains
several references to Finland:
Torni is a hotel in Helsinki, the name translates to Tower. The
hotel looks just like a skyscraper in NY except this one is less than 1%
of their size.
Esplanaadi is the name of a tree lined boulevard in the center
of town, just one block from Torni, with a park in the middle. Nice
place to walk in the middle of winter coats.
The kioski Henk buys food from with sinappi and
ketsuppi, would be somekind of a local junk food stand. sinappi
and ketsuppi stands for mustard and ketchup.
In one end of
esplanaadi is the harbour where the huge
ferries to Stockholm in fact do make a pirouette as they leave.
The Stockman and the bookshop are in the other end of
esplanaadi, Stockman is 'the' major department store in town.
Hoek of Holland
Hoek van Holland is a town at the sea shore, about 20 km off Rotterdam.
From this town ferries go to England.
The Saint Louis Avenue is inspired by a street in Quebec, the Rue Saint-Louis.
Dapperstreet is called after this poem, but is also a Dutch street in
Amsterdam. The poem is an ode to living in the city,
opposed to all the poems praising the beauty of nature. Lines that
appear in the song are added in English. A full translation is on
J.C. Bloem 1887-1966
Natuur is voor tevredenen of legen.
En dan: wat is natuur nog in dit land?
Een stukje bos, ter grootte van een krant,
Een heuvel met wat villatjes ertegen.
Geef mij de grauwe stedelijke wegen,
(give me the sombre city highroads)
De' in kaden vastgeklonken waterkant,
De wolken, nooit zo schoon dan als ze, omrand
Door zolderramen, langs de lucht bewegen.
(clouds are framed by attic windows)
Alles is veel voor wie niet veel verwacht.
Het leven houdt zijn wonderen verborgen
Tot het ze, opeens, toont in hun hogen staat.
Dit heb ik mijzelven overdacht,
Verregend, op een miezerigen morgen,
Domweg gelukkig, in de Dapperstraat
(suddenly happy in Dapperstreet)
Parts of the poem can be found written on the walls of one of the houses
on the Dapperstraat.
Sleep (What happens to your eyes)
This song seems to be inspired by a Danish poem. In Germany it is called
Der Erlkönig and was done by Goethe. It is about a
father, who wants to take his baby child back to his home, but ghosts
and evil spirits want the child for themselves.
J.W. Goethe, around 1815
Wer reitet so spät durch Nacht und Wind?
Es ist der Vater mit seinem Kind;
Er hat den Knaben wohl in dem Arm,
Er faßt ihn sicher, er hält ihn warm.
Mein Sohn, was birgst du so bang dein Gesicht?
Siehst, Vater, du den Erlkönig nicht?
Den Erlenkönig mit Kron' und Schweif?
Mein Sohn, es ist ein Nebelstreif.
Du liebes Kind, komm geh mit mir!
Gar schöne Spiele spiel' ich mit dir;
Manch' bunte Blumen sind an dem Strand;
Meine Mutter hat manch' gülden Gewand.
Mein Vater, mein Vater, und hörest du nicht,
Was Erlenkönig mir leise verspricht?
Sei ruhig, bleibe ruhig, mein Kind;
In dürren Blättern säuselt der Wind.
Willst, feiner Knabe, du mit mir gehen?
Meine Töchter sollen dich warten schön;
Meine Töchter führen den nächtlichen Reihn,
Und wiegen und tanzen und singen dich ein.
Mein Vater, mein Vater, und siehst du nicht dort
Erlkönigs Töchter am düsten Ort?
Mein Sohn, mein Sohn, ich seh' es genau:
Es scheinen die alten Weiden so grau.
Ich liebe dich, mich reizt deine schöne Gestalt,
Und bist du nicht willig, so brauch' ich Gewalt.
Mein Vater, mein Vater, jetzt faßt er mich an!
Erlkönig hat mir ein Leids getan!
Dem Vater grauset's er reitet geschwind,
Er hält in Armen das ächzende Kind,
Erreicht den Hof mit Mühe und Not;
In seinen Armen das Kind war tot.
Giant Normal Dwarf
In this song there is a line saying: I will never stick a pole in your
eye like the hero of my favourite book. The book is, of course, the
Odyssee by the ancient author Homer. The protagonist, Ulysses, is driven
around the Mediterranean and taken prisoner by a one-eyed giant,
Polyphemos. Ulysses runs a tree in the cyclop's eye, thereby blinding
him and then escapes.
Also read Dennis explanation to all Giant Normal
Nescio (Latin for I don't know) is the pseudonyme of the Dutch writer
J.H.F. Gronloh. Nescio wrote a book (de Uitvreter) about a man called
Japi, who is a lazy bum, a do-nothing type of guy who drowns at the end
of the book. He jumps of a bridge in Nijmegen. The song is meant as the
followup to the book. Japi didn't drown but swam to Italy (I jumped of
a bridge and went swimming for hours). He then is called by Nescio (the
phone rings on a nightstand, somebody whispers "hello, I don't
know") and tells Nescio how beautiful the Italian paradise is
(Nescio,io Questo Paradiso, Quello Quadro e Bello). The song was meant
to be sung by a Dutch singer Willy Alberti. He was famous for singing
Italian songs (in Italian) and Nits thought it would be funny if Alberti
sung it. He didn't want it, so Henk sung it himself. Alberti is dead
now, but his daughter, Willeke Alberti, still sings.
Check out this Nescio
The Panoramaman is the name Henk gave to the man that brought his mother
a folder of 10 magazines each week, amongst which the magazine Panorama.
After a week you give the magazines back and they go to someone else,
who gets them for a week. This goes on for about ten weeks, the older
the magazines get, the less you pay. It is called the 'leesmap' (reading
folder) and if you are the last you can keep the magazines, the
'houdmap' (keeping folder). I've been told that this is very, very
Dutch. In the leesmap there also was a cartoon magazine in which Michel
Valiant and Archie, the man of steel were. I think this magazine will be
either PEP or SJORS. Not both don't exist anymore.
With Used Furniture We Make A Tree
Based on a poem by Anne Sexton (1928-1974):
THE BLACK ART
A woman who writes feels too much,
those trances and portents!
As if cycles and children and islands
weren't enough; as if mourners and gossips
and vegetables were never enough.
She thinks she can warn the stars.
A writer is essentially a spy.
Dear love, I am that girl.
A man who writes knows too much,
such spells and fetiches!
As if erections and congresses and products
weren't enough; as if machines and galleons
and wars were never enough.
With used furniture he makes a tree.
A writer is essentially a crook.
Dear love, you are that man.
Never loving ourselves,
hating even our shoes and our hats,
we love each other, precious , precious .
Our hands are light blue and gentle.
Our eyes are full of terrible confessions.
But when we marry,
the children leave in disgust.
There is too much food and no one left over
to eat up all the weird abundance.
There are also several references to current affairs and other 'modern'
things, such as MTV (well known I guess), TMF (dutch music channel similar
to MTV) and LPF & Mr. P (Mr. P = Pim Fortuyn, a dutch politician that was
murdered in 2002. The LPF is the name of his party and they are currently
best known for making a big mess of things..).
Also read Dennis explanation to all 1974
Back in his childhood, Henk played soccer at an Amsterdam club named
J.O.S. (Jeugd Organisatie Sport, Sport Youth Club). This club does
not play professional soccer, but has a long tradition, quite a famous
club. Reading the lyrics, one gets the impression that Henk did not do
In the Dutch Mountains
Well, there are none. The Netherlands are generally flat, and large
parts are even below sealevel. During the FRITS performance Freek sang a
translated version of this song Dankzij de Dijken and
stated that the only mountains in Holland are the dykes that keep the
sea from flooding the country.
A different story has it, that Henk learned Dutch geography at school
with a map with all city names removed and foreign countries coloured
white. Then he thought that the white areas were the Dutch Mountains.
A third interpretation is as follows: In the Dutch Mountains
is the title of a book by Dutch author Cees Noteboom.
It was actually translated into
English and published in the USA by a small university press, and it's
one of those books where the method of storytelling and the use of
language are meant to be more important than the actual story, which
is of a somewhat fairytale nature, dealing with the difference between
the more urban parts of Holland around the big cities and the less urban,
more agricultural, bucolic south of Holland. It was written several years
before the Nits song, and Henk might have gotten the title from the book,
though any connection between the lyrics and the content of the book
is tenuous at best.
The words Mountains and Buildings heard on the CD and
during concerts were sampled from a TV interview of a Japanese(?) architect.
Robert Jan came up with this name by randomly hitting keys on the
typewriter. Also huvi is an old Finnish word meaning
entertainment or merry and funny thing.
Solo for conductor
The Hjuvi booklet mentions this, you can see it only at a
live performance. It is exactly what is says: The conductor steps up to
his place, waves the stick, but the orchestra does not play. Jan Strulen
gave the pace, pointed at different groups of instruments, who only
acted and made no sound. A very funny sight, but useless on a CD.
The Orange track can be heard after Abandoned Mine on the
dA dA dA CD. It is actually represented on the back by small drawings, a
wave (seashore sounds) and an orange. It appears to be a Beach Boys
knockoff. The text goes roughly like this:
Is a wonderful place
If you want to be an Orange
Give it all away, away away
Sketches of Spain
This song was inspired by a visit to Barcelona, reading
Homage to Catalonia by George Orwell and
the Miles Davis album of the same title. Henk told in an interview that
this song was fast and poppy on the first recording, but became slower
and differently arranged on the next recording.
Jochen A. Stein, jst at nitsfans dot org
Last modified: 15-05-2004