Musicians, literary figures and songwriters were among those paying tribute to Odd Børretzen, who died over the weekend after a career spanning six decades. Børretzen was a multi-talented entertainer who among other things wrote around 30 books and also became a pop star at the age of 70.
He was described as an author, poet, singer, comedian, illustrator and translater. He was born in Hjelmeland in 1926 and died Saturday at the hospital in Tønsberg. He performed as late as three weeks ago, at a concert in Oppegård.
“Odd Børretzen managed to unite a large, broad audience by paying attention to life’s small nuances in an original and refined manner,” singer and songwriter Lars Lillo-Stenberg told newspaper Aftenposten on Monday. “He made Norway a bit wiser.”
Børretzen was perhaps best known for his dry wit, for poking fun at everyday occurrences and for being a social critic with a mild style that rarely offended. He was informal, loved spending time on his sailboat, was famous for his dislike for seagulls and wrote dozens of small, often humourous books.
One of them was aimed at foreigners, “How to Understand and Use a Norwegian,” published in 1992. It was designed, as Børretzen wrote, to help foreigners arriving in Norway or meeting Norwegians abroad “derive considerable pleasure” from a Norwegian and boost the foreigner’s chances of “problem-free collaboration day after day and, in some cases, night after night, for many years to come.” It was Børretzen’s “how-to manual” on how to get along with Norwegians and, perhaps, aid integration.
For many, Børretzen was best known for a song he wrote with Lars Martin Myhre in 1995 called Noen ganger er det allright (Sometimes it’s all right). It became a huge hit in Norway and won the duo a Spellemannspris, the Norwegian equivalent of a Grammy Award. Børretzen produced 20 albums in his life, but it was Noen ganger er det allright that really made him famous nationwide.
“Odd Børretzen was every Norwegians’ wise old uncle,” said new government minister for culture Hadia Tajik. “He put life’s small and big questions in perspective. His voice will be greatly missed.” Funeral arrangements were pending.
Views and News from Norway/Nina Berglund
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