Peter Bjorn And John
Photo by Johan Bergmark
Quarantine Diaries: Peter Bjorn And John's John Eriksson Is Reading Poetry & Battling Possible COVID-Related Illness
As the coronavirus/COVID-19 pandemic continues to rock the music industry, the Recording Academy reached out to a few musicians to see how they were spending their days indoors. Today, John Eriksson of Swedish indie favorites Peter Bjorn And John, shares his Quarantine Diary. Peter Bjorn And John's ninth studio album, Endless Dream, is out now.
[4:30 a.m.] Waking up, coughing like a very old man. The sound reminds me of my grandfather. He was coughing a lot, he was a car repairman and he was half deaf. Someone fired a gun right next to his right ear.
[Editor's note: According to the band's management, Eriksson suspects he may have contracted COVID-19. But, because they're only testing people in Sweden who need hospital care, he can't be sure.]
[4:34 a.m.] Trying to fall asleep again by watching an old Swedish criminal drama from the end of the '80s. Everybody is wearing bright white jackets and dresses. Weightless, fluffy humans with untroubled minds, feather-light bodies, relaxed faces. Everything looks so easy and the pace is so unbelievably slow. The investigator is constantly holding a burning cigarette between his index and middle finger.
[5:30 a.m.] Waking up, coughing and probably waking up my girlfriend for the 45th time during the last three weeks. But, she loves me, yeah, yeah, yeah?
[5:35 a.m.] Trying to read a book in bed. Can almost only read "slow" writers at the moment. Tove Jansson or Peter Handke. Bruno K. Öijer or Tomas Tranströmer. Books where the sentences are not chasing each other, texts where it doesn't matter if you are on page one or 99. Pages that have a mind of their own.
[8:01 a.m.] My girlfriend comes from the kitchen and hands me a black bowl with oatmeal porridge. Eating that in bed, waving goodbye to my son on his way to school.
[9:17 a.m.] Looking out the window. Coughing.
[10:00 a.m.] Time for a chance of scenery. Walking into the living room. Looking out of that window.
[10:14 a.m.] Standing on the balcony, watching seagulls making love on a roof. It is not cute. A big, dazed bumble bee, already busy, flies around looking for the meaning of life, creating a feeling of melancholy. Feel like touching its fuzzy yellow-black body and wish it luck.
Another busy creature, the postman, comes on his yellow bicycle, wearing shorts today (why not). He picks up the envelopes, the flyers and magazines from his huge, blue postbag in a relaxed and effortless way, totally at ease with his tasks. He walks slowly to the house next to ours.
On the street below, random people are walking almost aimlessly, like they are on vacation, like the narrow passage in our backyard is the Ramblas in Barcelona. But the people down there don't sound like tourists; the only thing you hear is the dampened sound of their slow footsteps on the asphalt, soft rubber soles, sometimes touching small pieces of gravel. No hard heels and no loud voices. It's like everybody is trying to compose a vast silence, together. A minute of silence after a minute of silence. The only distinct sounds are the spring birds. For all of them, it's business as usual and the only creatures behaving like they are on a charter trip are the seagulls. Screaming, fighting, f**king, acting like they own this place.
[11:30 a.m.] Continuing to read. The book I'm reading smells like dust in a warm attic, its pages yellowed by sunlight and antique cigarette smoke.
[11:55 a.m.] Doing a breathing exercise in order to get the mucus out of the lungs and I end up coughing up a big lump of white-yellow slime that lands on the wooden floor. Looking down at something from another world and it feels like it is looking back at me. I go to the toilet, gather a big ball of toilet paper, go back into the living room and carefully wipes up the slime. I throw the paper in the toilet and look at myself in the mirror. It is unworthy to be sick. Unworthy.
[1:15 p.m.] Drinking water. Getting a text from Bjorn, asking me if I want to DJ at a livestream event next month. Seriously considering this for a moment, which must be a sign of illness.
[2:02 p.m.] Have noticed that movies in black and white work better when you are sick, It's like there's more space in them. Watching Wim Wenders' "Der himmel über Berlin" for the first time on a fantastic Swedish movie site and one scene takes my breath away. The camera zooms in on a woman sitting in a laundromat thinking about all the stuff she needs to fix at home before her husband gets there: cooking food, doing the dishes, vacuuming. In the middle of her thoughts, the image changes from black and white to color, illuminating a long row of dark-red washing machines. This almost makes me cry. Don't know why.
[5:30 p.m.–8 p.m.] Coughing.
[8 p.m.] Going to bed. Feel a bit better than yesterday evening. Before I turn out the light, I read the last lines of a poem by Tranströmer:
"Outside, the late spring.
From the greenery a whistling - people or birds?
And cherry trees in bloom pat the heavy trucks on the way home.
Weeks go by.
Slowly night comes.
Moths settle down on the pane:
small pale telegrams from the world."
If you wish to support our efforts to assist music professionals in need, learn more about the Recording Academy's and MusiCares COVID-19 Relief Fund.
If you are a member of the music industry in need of assistance, visit the MusiCares website.