Långbacka Jans Gånglåt

Långbacka Jans Gånglåt is one of the best-known Uppland fiddle tunes, even in other areas of Sweden.

  Långbacka Jan, or Jan Persson, lived from 1800 to 1880.  In his youth he was celebrated as perhaps the best fiddler in his home area of Rasbo.  He was reputed to have magical powers with his music, and amazing stories were told about him.

  One of the most remarkable stories concerned a man who was trying to get a team of horses to pull a wagon loaded with hay up the steep hill where he lived.   The horses were just not strong enough to pull the weight.  He asked Långbacka Jan for assistance.  Jan had the farmer unhitch the horses, and instead he hitched a chicken to the wagon.  Then he sat on the front of the wagon, and played a tune, which  made the chicken pull the wagon up the hill as though it were as light as a feather.

It is not known for sure what tune he played, but it may have been this tune, now called Långbacka Jans Gånglåt.  

  There are different stories about why Långbacka Jan stopped playing the fiddle.   One is that a boy touched his fiddle once, and it started playing by itself, and Jan had to smash it to get it to stop.  Another says he recognized the devil as one of the dancers he was playing for one time.

  The most likely, though, is that he had moved to the city of Uppsala at a time when there was a strong conservative religious revival.  He was told that fiddling was sinful, so he quit playing to avoid eternal damnation.

  Anyway, here is a YouTube video of Långbacka Jans Gånglåt played by an unrehearsed group of musicians at an “allspel” – a performance of common tunes played for an audience.