Before I Forget
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  • Spinvis
  • Before I Forget
  • Released in: 2013

A popular song from Spinvis self-titled debut album, "Before I Forget" is a sad ballad about the passage of time.

Review posted: 29/10/2013

Spinvis is a pop band formed by musician Erik de Jong. A relative latecomer to popular music, he was 41 years old when his debut album, also called Spinvis, came out in 2002, earning some success with the catchy single “Smalfilm” and the subdued “Bagagedrager.” His age is reflected in the maturity of his lyrics. Contrary to many pop songs, the words of Spinvis’ tunes are cryptic and poetic. They often sound like snippets from a conversation or fragments of deep and imaginative daydreaming. In an interview, Erik de Jong said his writing process involved “listening to ordinary people talking in a streetcar and incorporating that into songs.”

"Contrary to many pop songs, the words of Spinvis’ tunes are cryptic and poetic."

The third song from the debut album is a sad little ballad titled “Voor ik vergeet” (Before I Forget), about the fear of growing old and forgetting the memories one holds dear. After a deceptively cheerful intro, in which a female vocalist sings “pa pa pa…,” the first line transports listeners immediately to a street, in front of fenced-off vacant lot. The singer wonders what happened to the church that, he could swear, was there yesterday: “Before I forget, there was once a church here.”

The comedic artist Lenette van Dongen adapted the song for her theater show. Her version stripped away the melody and sounds much heavier, but Lenette reused the lyrics almost word for word, which earned Spinvis and her the shared honor of receiving the Annie M.G. Schmidt prize for best song in a theater production. At the award ceremony, the man behind Spinvis, Erik de Jong, realized that the worlds of music and theater are far apart. He said: “There was a lot of press at the ceremony. But theater people only seem to have two emotions: laughter or melancholy. It says in the paper today that I make New Age music. That really hurts.”

"'Before I Forget' is about the fear of growing old and forgetting the memories one holds dear."

The song, after the first line, continues to list memories at risk of being lost. Endearing memories and also embarrassing ones, like a fight he had "op een feest ergens in de Biltstraat waar ik toch niemand kende" (at a party, somewhere on the Biltstraat, where I didn’t know anybody anyways). These memories, though they may be strong now, might nevertheless fade away. Towards the end of the song, the mantra changes from “Before I forget” to “Till I forget,” acknowledging the inevitability of this loss. "Tot ik vergeet; ik jou vergeet; jou vergeet; en nog alleen maar lijk te dromen" (Till I forget; I forget you; you forget; and appear to be only dreaming). Then, the music picks up again, and we return to the female vocalist cheerfully singing “pa pa pa…” as if it had all been just a dream. “And all those bad things will not happen to us.”


voor ik vergeet dat hier een kerk heeft gestaan
voor ik vergeet dat ik jarig was
en een tic-tac in mijn neusgat had toen we naar zeeland zijn gegaan
voor ik vergeet koninginnedag
en wie toen mijn vrienden zijn geweest
en ik niets meer weet van straten en examens en vacanties en ruzie
op een feest ergens in de Biltstraat waar ik toch niemand kende
voor ik vergeet en later alles anders heet
voor ik vergeet en ik de feiten en de cijfers en de namen van de schrijvers niet meer weet
de hele dag en alle woorden en elk uur de hele dag
en ook de nacht en de zomers en de handen van mijn vader vergeet ik op den duur
voor ik vergeet vergeten ben van die hersenscan en van die toestand met dat huis
en dat ik zo iemand was die van alles wou
en niets begreep van de film waarin hij speelde
en de lafbek die hij was
ik hou van jou
ik hou zoveel van jou
tot ik vergeet
ik jou vergeet
jou vergeet
en nog alleen maar lijk te dromen



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