Traditional (arr. Kronos Quartet, transc. Ljova)
Tusen Tankar is a traditional Scandinavian folk song, which recounts a timeless, mournful tale of unrequited love. The English translation of the lyrics reads:
A thousand thoughts oppress me
For love of one who can't be mine.
As through the world I ramble,
All I can do is pine.
All I can feel is the pain I bear
And it's all for you, my dear.
Mankind's false heart betrayed me
And left me in despair.
If I had never seen you,
Your hands, your face, your clear blue eyes,
If I had never been there
The first time you walked by,
I might have spent my days in joy.
I might be content and free.
The day will never dawn now
When sorrow leaves me be.
The pretty flowers of summer
I see them everywhere I go,
But death is all I long for,
Since your love I'll never know.
And if my fate's to die for you,
To you I'll leave my pain,
For never while I'm living
Will I be free again.
Kronos' arrangement is based on a recording by the Swedish folk band, Triakel, built around the haunting vocals by Emma Härdelin. Triakel consists of Emma Härdelin (vocals), Kjell-Erik Eriksson (fiddle) and Janne Strömstedt (harmonium). All three are well-established in the forefront of Swedish folk music. According to Triakel, the first two verses of Tusen Tankar were taken from a version by Swedish singer Thyra Karlsson, while the third verse can be traced back to Danish origins.
Kronos’ arrangement of Tusen Tankar was commissioned for Kronos by the Angel Stoyanof Commission Fund.