On The Roof

Album: Ghost Rider (1985)
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Songfacts®:

  • The story of "On the Roof" is, in some ways, the story of the internet. The song would have been forgotten completely if not for the fact that web sleuths became fascinated with it in 2002.

    The song was an internet mystery for over a decade, going unsolved until 2013. For a time, it was front runner for title of "Most Mysterious Song on the Internet" (though that title now rests firmly in other hands).

    The song surfaced from a mix tape containing German radio songs recorded sometime between 1984 and 1986. It starts out with a noble synthesizer riff that reminds us that the instrument can actually be more than just laughable '80s corniness. It can, in fact, be pretty cool sometimes.

    Internet detectives initially called the song "Stay (The Second Time Around)." They took the title from the song's chorus:

    Stay, a second time around
    Won't you please stay, a certain time around
    Darling won't you please stay, a certain time around
    Oh please stay, a second time around


    The mystery raged unsolved until September 20, 2013, when a Swedish disc jockey named Sara posted on Reddit to announce that she'd found the man behind the song. His name is Johan Lindell, who made a few albums in the '80s. He'd emerged after Sara and coworkers at Sveriges Radio heard about the mystery and posted the song on their show.

    Ironically, until it went out on Swedish radio, Lindell himself had no idea his song was circulating all over the web because he rarely used computers and never used the internet.

    Lindell also revealed to Tone Deaf that some of the folks playing on the song were associated with Roxette, one of Sweden's biggest international acts. "On The Roof" keyboardist Clarence Öfwerman produced Roxette throughout their career while drummer Per "Pelle" Alsing and bass player Tommy Cassemar can be heard on the Pearls Of Passion, Roxette's first full-length album.

    Lindell had long since stopped releasing music (he'd moved on to painting). After discovering the interest in his old song, he remastered the Ghost Rider album and distributed it though iTunes and Spotify. The new version went live on October 5, 2013.
  • The song is about Lindell going up on his roof to drink wine and think about his problems with his woman.

    Woman, I've done you wrong
    I knew this had to come
    Now you're walking out my door
    Calling a cab on the way you go

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