During a recent trip to Sweden, I sat through the opening of the new session of Parliament. As I waited along with several hundred other people for King Carl Gustaf and Queen Silvia to arrive, I was struck by how melancholy the festivities must be for the Swedish Social Democrats. They’d foundered in the September elections (their worst showing since 1928) and had given up the reins of government after fifty-three of the last fifty-nine years in power. They couldn’t have been in the mood for all the hoopla—folk dancers, high school choruses, processions in costume. Then midway through the program came a bizarre nod to recent events. A punky chanteuse, dressed from head to toe in black except for a single red flower, launched into a reedy rendition of Arlen and Mercer’s 1943 classic.
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