Birthday

Album: Life's Too Good (1987)
Charted: 65

Songfacts®:

  • "Birthday" is the song that brought Björk into the popular American consciousness. Released in August 1987 on the Sugarcubes debut album Life's Too Good, it was the band's first international single.

    The song is most notable for Bjork's unique vocal gymnastics and for its odd lyrics about a girl who "threads worms on a string," "keeps spiders in her pocket," and "collects fly wings in a jar."
  • Björk started writing this song about "a grocer, very close to me, in a little shop." She told Sounds in 1987: "Then I found out it was about some old guy who's living close to me... it changed very often. Then finally, I just had to write it down, and I sort of collected memories together in my head, like when I was a kid, all old men that influenced me sort of erotically, without doing anything, really. Men at 50 and stuff like that. But, you know, without doing anything... so that's the feeling."

    She added: "It was only an atmosphere I was trying to describe. The only thing I was doing consciously, that was mixing together pure innocence and pure... well, not danger, but something, you know, evil. Evil in an unreal way."
  • The song was Melody Maker's "Single Of The Week" and topped John Peel's Festive Fifty list, helping launch the Sugarcubes' international success.
  • The band played "Birthday" and "Motorcrash" on the October 15, 1988 episode of Saturday Night Live.
  • The Jesus and Mary Chain's Jim and William Reid remixed the song in 1988 as "Birthday (The Christmas Mixes)."

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