The 1960s was a period of radical change in Finland, as the country
began changing into an affluent consumer society. One of the most visible
people of this era was pop musician Antti Yrjö Hammarberg, better known by
his artistic name of Irwin Goodman. Irwin Goodman was a true protest
singer. His songs were critical of Finnish legislation and the country's
new wealth. His favourite subjects were alcohol, the police, and above
all, Finnish taxation. Irwin Goodman was to become the voice of the common
people; his famous motto was: "give the people what they want". Nowadays
his lyrics are legendary; despite the nearly two decades that have passed
since his death, people still use expressions from his songs in everyday
conversation, sometimes without recognising that these words were sung
years ago by Irwin Goodman.
It is no exaggeration to say that almost every Finn recognises the name
Irwin Goodman and at least a few of his songs. What was it that made
Goodman so popular? What was his influence on the Finnish people's
attitudes and way of thinking in the 1960s and 1970s?
The Birth of a Great Artist
Antti Yrjö Hammarberg was born on September 14, 1943 in Hämeenlinna, a
city in Southern Finland with over 66,000 inhabitants. He was Kirsti and
Yrjö Hammarberg's only child (Irwin).
One could see signs of Antti Hammarberg's musical talent already when
he was a small child. His first public appearance took place at the age of
five, when he performed at his mother's workplace. He sang the song
Ystävä sä lapsien [A friend of the children]1 . After his first appearance he decided to
join the Hämeenlinna conservatory choir, and remained in the choir until
his voice started to break, presumably in his early teens (Rantala 6).
Irwin's Lifelong Friendship with Lyricist and Manager Vexi Salmi
Vexi Salmi (L) and Irwin Goodman (R) in 1966
Antti Hammarberg lived on the same street in Hämeenlinna as Veikko
Salmi, who was a year older than Antti. Later Veikko Salmi was to become
known as Emil Retee or Vexi Salmi (Rantala 7). In the future these two
names were regularly seen in connection with the name Irwin Goodman,
because Salmi was to become Irwin Goodman's manager and lyricist.
Veikko Salmi and Antti Hammarberg met for the first time in the
mid-1940s. At that time Antti was only three and Veikko four years old.
This was the beginning of a lifelong friendship. A certain naughtiness and
rebelliousness connected these young boys (Rantala 7). The first song that
the boys made together was a teasing song about their neighbour, called
Humalamäki. The song was called Kännimäen mambo [Drunkhill's
Veikko Salmi was to act as Irwin Goodman's manager throughout his
career. He was the lyricist for most of Irwin Goodman's songs. Their
friendship lasted throughout Goodman's life.
Antti Hammarberg: A Man With Many Names
Before his success Antti Hammarberg was known among his friends as
"Ana" or "Hamppari". These were nicknames that his friends had created
from his first and last names. "Ana" was a shortening of "Antti", and
"Hamppari" was created from "Hammarberg". As soon as rock 'n' roll began
reaching Finland in the 1960s, Veikko Salmi wanted to make up a new and
stylish stage name for his friend, and renamed Antti Hammarberg
"Rock-Williams". Soon another stage name came into the picture. Vexi Salmi
now called Antti Hammarberg "Irving Goodman", and Antti Hammarberg called
Vexi Salmi "Emil Retee". For a long time these names were used only in
private conversations between the two (Rantala 8), but eventually they
were both to be better known by these names than their birth names.
Antti Hammarberg's new name, Irving Goodman, had its origins in the
American musicians Benny Goodman and Irving Berling. In an interview by
the Finnish Broadcasting Company (YLE)3 in
1985, Hammarberg explained the story behind the name Irving Goodman.
He and Vexi wanted to come up with a new stage name for Antti Hammarberg,
which would be "something crazy". They thought of Benny Goodman, who was a
great musician, and took his surname. Irving Berling was a great composer,
so they took his first name. Hammarberg explains in the interview
that this new name worked well, because the name Irving Goodman was a
mixture of the names of a great musician and a great composer
(Taiteilijavieraana). After all, Goodman himself was to become a
well-known musician and composer.
Vexi Salmi, on the other hand, has a different view of the origins of
the name Irving Goodman. Benny Goodman had two brothers: Harry, who played
the bass, and Irving, who played the trumpet. According to Vexi, Irving
was the worst player of the brothers, and he was not allowed to play
solos. According to Vexi Salmi, Antti Hammarberg became Irving Goodman
because in Vexi's opinion Antti Hammarberg was not a skilful enough
guitarist to play solos. So, originally the name Irving Goodman was an
epithet made up by Vexi Salmi (Rantala 8).
Later the name "Irving" was changed into "Irwin" in order to make it
more Finnish. Nowadays this name is still widely known. Some Finns may not
even recognise the name Antti Yrjö Hammarberg, but almost everyone who
listened to Finnish popular music in the 1960s, 1970s, or 1980s knows the
name Irwin Goodman. Often the children of these original fans "inherited"
the fascination for Irwin Goodman's music from their parents, and that is
why most Finns even today are familiar with Irwin's music.
Antti Hammarberg's first appearance as Irwin Goodman took place on
March 12, 1964 in Hämeenlinna (Irwin).
Nasal Singing As a Trademark
Before Irwin Goodman became well-known, he tried several things with
music, and also worked with Vexi Salmi in a forwarding centre in
Stuttgart, Germany for two years. In Germany Irwin and Vexi met a Finnish
truck driver called Paavo Peltonen. Many of Irwin's lyrics are based on
Peltonen's colourful expressions (Rantala 12). Most famous of these are
"viideltä saunaan ja kuudelta putkaan" [at five p.m. to the sauna and at
six p.m. to jail] and "ei tippa tapa ja ämpäriin ei huku" [one drop does
not kill, and you cannot drown in a bucket].
The best-known of Irwin's musical endeavours was a band from
Hämeenlinna called The Depraveds. The band consisted of
singer/guitar player Rauno Katajisto, Irwin Goodman, drummer Ilpo Jokinen,
and bass player Harry Tawast (Rantala 18). The Depraveds had gotten
some publicity outside Hämeenlinna, and they started appearing around
Southern Finland (Goodman 38). In 1965 Vexi Salmi managed to arrange a
recording time for the band at Yleisradio's studio. They were supposed to
make an experimental recording in order to celebrate becoming famous
(Rantala 18). The band recorded the songs Kuin Ferrari [Like a
Ferrari] and Aurinko, tähdet ja kuu [The Sun, Stars, and the Moon]
At the same time, Vexi Salmi, who was acting as Irwin Goodman's
manager, had been listening to the contemporary and popular music of Bob
Dylan and Donovan. He noticed especially their nasal singing style. This
made him think that Irwin Goodman should also adopt this singing style
(Rantala 21). At first Irwin was against this, because he thought he would
be ridiculed for singing that way (Goodman 38). He also defended his view
by saying that he could not sing like that (Rantala 21). Vexi Salmi's
humorous answer to this was that Irwin should go out into the rain and
stand there in his bare feet. That way Irwin would not even need to
practice, the nasal singing would come by itself (Goodman 38).
Eventually Irwin Goodman gave in, and after adopting this new style,
Goodman and Salmi decided to make an album, even if they had to pay for it
themselves (Rantala 21). Vexi Salmi had made recordings of Irwin's songs
at home using a tape recorder, and had constantly been sending new tapes
to the record producers, but the record companies were not interested. At
that time Finnish record companies wanted tangos4 or Finnish versions of English pop songs,
whereas Antti Hammarberg was not interested in tangos or pop songs. His
music needed to be "groovy and swinging" (Salmi, Siniset 298). So,
they booked a recording studio with their own money for two hours (Goodman
Eventually Vexi Salmi's tenacious efforts paid off. In the autumn of
1965 Mr Erik Lindström from the Finnish record company Finndisc agreed to
publish Irwin's music if Vexi Salmi could offer him a good album (Irwin).
Finally, on the 27th of October in 1965 Irwin Goodman's debut single was
published (Rantala 23). The single consisted of the songs En kerro
kuinka jouduin naimisiin [I won't
tell you how I got married] and Katkera matka [Embittered
journey]. Soon after this, Irwin's second single, consisting
of the songs Työmiehen lauantai [Workman's Saturday]
and Kuin Ferrari [Like a Ferrari], was published (Wessman
Irwin Goodman's debut single became so popular that he got a new record
deal from the Fazer corporation, which had turned down Irwin's songs in
the past. Fazer was so eager to get a record deal with Irwin Goodman that
their production manager, Mr Toivo Kärki, agreed to Vexi Salmi's
extraordinary demands. Vexi Salmi wanted Fazer to buy all Irwin's records
from Finndisc, the royalties of Irwin's albums to increase, and Vexi
Salmi's company, MV-Production, to be in charge of the public relations
for Fazer's albums' (Rantala 28). After this new record deal Irwin's
recording pace rocketed, and the hits kept coming: Ei tippa tapa
[One drop doesn't kill] in 1966, Ryysyranta [Ragshore] in 1967, and
Juhlavalssi [Festival waltz] in 1968. In 1970 Goodman also
won the Finnish song contest Syksyn sävel with a song called St.
Pauli ja Reeperbahn [St. Pauli and Reeperbahn]. The next year he won
the contest again with a song called Poing Poing Poing (Irwin).
The Brand-New Style Called Irwinism
Irwin on the Irwinismi album cover.
Image Source: Wikipedia
Irwin Goodman and Vexi Salmi wanted to create a brand-new expression
for their new style, which was referred to as "Irwinismi" [Irwinism]. The
two men described Irwinism as a kind of casual realism, an attempt to
express things as they were (Goodman 39).
When Goodman's first album was released in March 1966, it was not
a surprise that the album was called Irwinismi. In April 1966
Irwinismi was the most sold long-playing record in Finland. Even
the Beatles had to make way for the new star, as Goodman and his
album Irwinismi replaced them at the top of the Finnish charts.
In total, the album sold 3,200 pieces. At that time in Finland, the
selling of recordings was centred on singles, and to sell 3,200 pieces
with an album was a triumph (Rantala 34).
Censorship As a Common Problem
However, a common problem facing Goodman's songs was censorship.
The albums kept selling, but the songs were banned from broadcasting by
Yleisradio, the Finnish Broadcasting Company. Until 1970, Yleisradio had
the practise of banning albums that were of "suspicious nature" (Gronow).
The first song to face censorship was Työmiehen lauantai [Workman's
Saturday]. Yleisradio claimed that the song insulted Finnish workmen, as
in the song Goodman sings that workmen go to the sauna at five
p.m. and to jail at six p.m. The song also implies that workmen consumed a
lot of alcohol5.
Yleisradio also refused to broadcast another song by Irwin Goodman
called Ei tippa tapa [One drop doesn't kill] (Rantala 42). This was
no surprise due to the song's dismissive attitude towards alcohol and
intoxication. The song encouraged people to drink; according to its lyrics
life is dull if one does not celebrate from time to time with the
assistance of alcohol.
These two were not the only songs that faced censorship. Especially
during Goodman's early years censorship was the rule rather than the
exception. Censorship on the other hand might have been one of the things
that made Irwin's songs so popular. Forbidden fruit is always more
Ryysyranta: the Most Successful Single and the Glamourous House in
Irwin's second album, Ei tippa tapa [One drop doesn't kill],
came out in 1966. The third album, Osta minut [Buy me], was
released in early 1967. The public's reaction to the Osta minut
album was good, and the album eventually rose to third on the Finnish
chart list. But although the album sold well, its popularity was a
disappointment to Irwin, Vexi, and the record company. Osta minut
did not include any hits compared to the previous albums (Rantala 46).
After the Osta minut album, Irwin's career started going downhill.
His name was not on the chart lists, and the popularity of his gigs
declined. Many thought that Irwin Goodman was history (Rantala 49).
But later in 1967 a song called Ryysyranta [Ragshore] lifted
Goodman back to fame (Rantala 49). The song was recorded at a time
when Finland had begun changing from a primarily agricultural country into
an industrial country. This had started a large-scale migration from the
countryside to Southern Finland and Sweden. The standard of living began
rising, but the countryside became increasingly impoverished as the
industry and population concentrated in the south6 . The Ryysyranta song was based on a book
called Ryysyrannan Jooseppi7
[Ragshore's Joseph] by the Finnish author Ilmari Kianto8. Ryysyranta became Irwin Goodman's
most successful single, with 25,000 sold pieces. Only about twenty singles
in Finland have ever reached this number (Rantala 50).
But as there are supporters, there inevitably are also antagonists.
Some people thought that the song was insulting to Finland and the Finnish
people (Rantala 50). The song implies that Finland is not necessarily the
most harmonious place to live. There were also poor people with poor
living conditions. According to the song, Ryysyranta was a ragged cottage
filled with fleas, bedbugs, and lice with a messy "farmhouse livingroom"
where the family spent most of their time. In Ryysyranta people did not
use the toilet, instead they used the corner of the room.
In February 17, 1969 Irwin Goodman built a house in Hattula, a small
rural town near Hämeenlinna. This glamourous house was named Ryysyranta.
The house was furnished extravagantly, with chairs upholstered in mink and
a swimming pool (Rantala 62). Finnish people being modest, this
ostentation was not appreciated. People easily identified with the poor
Irwin, whereas the rich Irwin was not to their liking. As a result of the
bad publicity caused by the Ryysyranta house, many of Irwin's fans
abandoned him (Rantala 64). This rapid decline in Irwin's popularity was
only one example of the many ups and downs in his extraordinary career.
The Ups and Downs of Irwin's Career
Irwin's career was far from ordinary. He was sentenced for drunken
driving, got involved with an under-aged girl, and was convicted of a
bookkeeping crime. Irwin did not understand society, and society did not
understand him (Salmi, Irwin)
In the late 1960s his popularity began to decline. This was mainly due
to the public's disapproval caused by the Ryysyranta house. In the spring
of 1969, The Finnish gossip magazine Hymy published a poll on the
topic "The most unpopular Finn". The overwhelming winner was the Finnish
politician Veikko Vennamo9 with 38,896
votes. Irwin "reached" fifth place with 5,258 votes (Rantala 67).
Criticism by the public and the press had taken its toll.
Irwin was feeling depressed from the criticism and was not interested
in working in recording studios, which had a strong effect on his
recording pace. Due to this, only one single was released in all of 1969.
Irwin's manager and lyricist Vexi Salmi had also started pursuing his own
career (Rantala 66). This sudden decline in Irwin's career was surprising,
for only two years earlier Ryysyranta had been his best-selling
As Irwin's popularity began to decline, so did his lifestyle. He owed
money to a lot of people and he also had to pay 50,000 Finnmarks10 to the Finnish tax office (Rantala 69).
The reason for this was that in 1968 Irwin had stopped filling in tax
forms due frustration over the previous year's large outstanding taxes
(Salmi, Siniset 406). In 1970 his Ryysyranta house faced compulsory
auction. First all movables, and then the house itself had to be auctioned
Although the press was still interested in Irwin, the publicity was not
good. The press was not interested in his career and future plans, but
in his drinking and other gossip (Rantala 70).
However, it was at this time, in 1976, when Irwin made his second
comeback with the songs Häirikkö [Troublemaker] and Haistakaa
paska koko valtiovalta [Fuck you government power]. Irwin's first
comeback after the disappointing Osta minut album had been with the
assistance of the Ryysyranta song in 1967.
Between 1976 and 1979 almost all of Irwin Goodman's songs were composed
under the pseudonym of Rudolf Holtz. According to Vexi Salmi, Irwin had to
compose under a pseudonym because he was so largely in debt with his
taxes. The use of the pseudonym was an attempt to save a part of Irwin's
income from immediate seizure by the tax authorities as payment for his
unpaid taxes (Irwin).
In 1979 Irwin recorded two albums and in the early 1980s a few singles.
These recordings did not catch on: in the eyes of the Finnish people,
Irwin Goodman was "a yesterday's star who had nothing to say in today's
music" (Rantala 152). The melodies of these songs were mediocre; Vexi
Salmi had put quantity before quality when creating the lyrics (Rantala
138). An example of these unpopular albums is Keisari Irwin
[Emperor Irwin]. The songs were unimaginative, and they lacked the style
and enthusiasm characteristic of the former Irwin (Rantala 131).
Goodman's career was once again at stake. The audience had disappeared
from his gigs and his compensation had plunged (Rantala 138). Irwin
Goodman was labelled as an artist whose best days had passed (Aho 9). Some
papers even wrote that "people come to see Irwin only so that they can
see someone who is doing even worse than themselves" (Aho 10).
But, in 1984 Vexi Salmi suggested that Irwin should try to hit it big
once again. Vexi was always the one who gave Irwin a boost when he was
down. It is highly probable that without Vexi Salmi's contribution "Irwin
Goodman" would not even exist. Vexi's encouragement had the desired
effect, and soon a new album was in the making. However, Irwin's composing
pace was too slow for their hectic timetable, so the Finnish musician
Kalervo "Kassu" Halonen11, a friend and
music associate of Vexi Salmi, came to their rescue (Rantala 151). Kassu
Halonen becoming the composer and arranger of Goodman's songs gradually
changed Irwin Goodman's music from "humppa"12 to popular songs and rock (Rantala 152).
As a result, in 1984 Irwin made yet another comeback. The album
Härmäläinen perusjuntti [An Ordinary Finnish yokel] sold more than
a gold record13 . But Goodman's
greatest success was yet to come. The LP Rentun Ruusu [Vermin's
Rose], which came out in 1988, sold double platinum14
However, eventually the years of hard performing and a back-breaking
recording pace combined with a drinking problem began taking their toll.
In the mid-1980s Irwin lost the hearing from one of his ears. In the
late-1980s he suffered from esophageal blockage and a cataract (Irwin).
What Made Irwin So Popular?
Irwin Goodman and Vexi Salmi's songs appealed to the common people.
They successfully described the common people's feelings. They were about
people who usually do not get songs written for them. Irwin Goodman spoke
the same language as the common people; he was himself a common person.
This is why the ordinary man could easily relate to Irwin and think: "Why
not me as well?" Goodman gave hope to the common Finnish people. The old
saying "Where there is will, there is a way" offers a perfect way of
describing Irwin Goodman. Irwin hit rock bottom more than once, but
somehow always managed to bounce back.
Irwin Goodman sang about the Finnish people to the Finnish people, who
felt that Irwin's songs reflected the Finnish state of mind in a profound
way (Rantala 74, Aho 13). Most Finns are independent people who have
worked hard to achieve the things in their lives. They have not been born
with silver spoons in their mouths; instead they have achieved everything
all by themselves, without resorting to the help of society.
Irwin Goodman was not afraid of speaking, or rather singing, about the
things that bothered him. He said what the whole nation, or at least a
large part of it, thought. He did not praise the nation's leaders, but
brought out their faults. For example in the song Poliisi on pop
[The police is pop], Goodman sang about the influence and actions of
the police. The song was recorded in 1966, at a time of protests and
police intervention, and was part of the Ei tippa tapa [One drop
doesn't kill] album. The lyricist was Emil Retee, or Vexi Salmi. In the
following extract from the song Irwin Goodman states that one can do
anything if one is a police officer. He compares the police uniform to a
Then I can do
whatever I want
is like a halo15
Irwin made fun of wealth and convention, the strict Finnish alcohol
policy, and taxes. He criticised the system as a whole. Irwin Goodman made
sure that the Finnish people noticed the faults of Finnish society.
Without Irwin's "help" people may not have even thought of these things,
but Irwin showed them that they were not alone in their opinions that the
faults of Finnish society should be corrected.
A part of Irwin's output consisted of autobiographical songs. Thus the
songs were real and had their origins in real life. A few examples of
these autobiographical songs are Ryysyranta meni [Ragshore is gone]
and Meni rahahommat pieleen [My finances went wrong] (Rantala 79).
The songs that Irwin recorded are not just songs, they are stories about
transformation. The songs are almost flesh and blood, and that is why the
songs have held out for decades as fresh as they were when published
Here is an extract from the song Meni rahahommat pieleen. The
song was recorded in 1970 and was part of the Irwin Goodman album.
The lyricist was Emil Retee, or Vexi Salmi.
It seems like these things went to my head
The chairs were made of mink
I mixed beautiful drinks in a cup
I was the most influential person in the world
When one is born a guy one will stay a guy
Taxes took all my money at once
Once again at the gigs I bleat
The riches weren't my thing16
This song has direct references to the Ryysyranta house and its chairs
upholstered in mink. In this song Irwin Goodman admits that he became too
proud and self-assured. Admitting one's mistakes and being up front is
important to Finnish people. In Meni rahahommat pieleen Irwin
Goodman admits that he became too cocky, and that all the riches in the
world was not really his thing. This sincerity is without a doubt one of
the factors that contributed to Irwin's success.
From Protest Songs to Popular Music
In the early 1970s Irwin's style began to turn from protest music to
common popular music. The album Poing Poing Poing, which was
published in 1971, was the last display of Irwin's thoughts about social
evils. "Silent insurgency" describes Irwin's opinions at that time
(Rantala 110). Merchantibility and covering a wider audience may have been
some reasons for this change in style.
Although this change in style presumably had some kind of affect on his
audience, it did not mean a change for the worse. Irwin Goodman's biggest
hit, Rentun Ruusu [Vermin's Rose], in 1988 was an example of
popular music at its best.
Irwin Goodman's Audience Was Large and Diverse
Irwin Goodman's audience covered the whole nation. The gigs were filled
especially with young people, and attendace records were broken (Salmi,
Vain). A noteworthy fact about Goodman's popularity is that
it does not divide evenly across Finland. Nowadays second-hand bookshops
sell Goodman's old albums very quickly in Tampere for example, but
in the Helsinki area selling these albums requires more work (Rantala
194). Antti Hammarberg was born in Hämeenlinna, a city near Tampere, and
that may be one reason why he is more popular in Western Finland.
A street poll17 reported by YLE in 1966
showed that people's opinions about protest songs and Irwin Goodman varied
quite a lot. A small boy stated that protest songs are interesting and
pleasing, and that he also liked Goodman and his music. Another small boy
on the other hand did not like Goodman, because he was "such a bearded
guy". A young woman said that Irwin's style was very good and unique.
Another young woman said that it is crazy to sing protest songs in
Finland, because the singers do not have a lot of information about the
things they are singing about. An older lady said that young people at the
least are interested in protest songs. An older man was very strict in his
opinions about protest songs and Irwin Goodman. He said that protest songs
are nonsense, and that only people with bad taste listened to Irwin
Goodman's music. A young man thought that protest songs were just a
passing phase. He thought that at that time artists had to do something
radical so that their songs would sell.
As the street poll showed, there was no rule as to who listened to
Goodman's music. Most of the audience was young, but not necessarily all
young people appreciated his music. Also, although some older people had
quite negative opinions about Irwin Goodman, older people also attended
Goodman targeted his songs to the common people, young or old,
and they were the people who attended his gigs. In the early days of his
career, during his "protest" period, his audience was mainly young people.
But as the years went by and his music started to become more 'pop', the
audience got older. Goodman's fans have been very loyal; a large part of
this older audience was in fact the same people who had attended his gigs
during his early years; they had just gotten older. Nowadays both younger
and older people listen to Goodman's music. There is something very
Finnish about listening to Irwin Goodman's music.
The Immortal Entertainer
Martti Suosalo as Irwin Goodman
in the movie Rentun ruusu.
Image Source: Artista
In January 1991, Irwin Goodman had promised to perform at an event in
Viipuri (Rantala 175). He was feeling feverish, and before crossing the
border, he and his entourage decided to see a doctor. He was prescribed
antibiotics and medicine for a common cold (Wessman 140). Seeing the
doctor and crossing the border took more time than was estimated. Irwin
Goodman was late for his last appearance (Wessman 141).
In Viipuri Irwin spent time resting in his hotel. His physical
condition seemed worse. On Monday, January 14, 1991 Irwin Goodman and his
entourage began the return journey to Finland. Irwin's condition went from
bad to worse (Wessman 141). On the border of Finland and the Soviet Union
their trip was interrupted; the whole entourage had to be inspected
(Rantala 175). The border guards did not believe that Irwin was seriously
ill; instead, they decided that he was just a "vodka tourist"18 . After a two-hour delay the group was
ready to leave. They headed straight to Hamina where the closest hospital
was situated. But it was too late. When they arrived at the hospital,
Antti Yrjö Hammarberg was already dead (Wessman 142).
After Hammarberg's death, there were rumours that he had died of
alcohol. People thought that a lifetime of excessive alcohol consumption
and drinking in Viipuri had caused his death. But the autopsy showed that
Antti Hammarberg's system was alcohol free; he had not been drinking
during his stay in Viipuri. Despite the rumours, he had died of natural
causes (Wessman 122).
When people talk about the immortality of deceased stars, they mean
that these stars have not been forgotten. Their records are still being
played, and their names are still selling. Irwin Goodman was a kind of
antithesis to successful Finnish performers who had smooth and
uninterrupted careers. With its ups and downs, Irwin's career was far from
smooth. Other successful Finnish performers had made it to retirement in
this hard field (Aho 12), whereas Irwin's career ended in his early death.
But while Antti Yrjö Hammarberg the person is dead, Irwin Goodman the
artist will always live. His songs are still appreciated and enjoyed. In
2001 a movie about his career was made, directed by Timo Koivusalo, who
also wrote the screenplay. The movie, called Rentun ruusu, revealed
the story behind Irwin Goodman and Vexi Salmi. Rentun ruusu was the
most watched movie in Finland in 2001, with over 350,000 cinema viewers
(Irwin). This again lifted the Goodman legacy back to fame. Almost
overnight the magazines and television once again became interested in
Irwin Goodman (Rantala 188).
Even though Antti Hammarberg has been dead for many years, Irwin
Goodman's legacy has picked up where Antti Hammarberg left off. Some of
Goodman's songs have recently appeared in cover versions by other Finnish
artists, and many other performers have mentioned Goodman in their lyrics.
Irwin Goodman is probably the most popular Finnish artist when it comes to
cover versions. In 1981, for example, an ensemble called Irwinin Lapset
[Irwin's Children], consisting of five performers, was formed. This band
has dedicated themselves to performing Goodman's old songs (Rantala
149). The Internet is filled with sites on Irwin Goodman. Many books have
also been written about Goodman. The Finnish Irwin Society organizes an
annual Irwin Festival. All these examples confirm the fact that Irwin
Goodman has not been forgotten, and that his legacy continues his work.
Irwin Goodman had an influence on the Finnish people on many levels.
Thanks to Goodman, they realised that in the end even famous people are
just regular people, who have to cope with the same problems as "common"
people. After a long day Irwin Goodman went home, took off his coat, and
turned back into Antti Hammarberg. One can be rich and famous, but all the
riches in the world do not have to necessarily change that person. The
most important lesson that the Finnish people learnt by watching Irwin
Goodman's career may have been that money does not guarantee happiness.
Irwin Goodman was one of a kind. Before him, the Finnish nation had not
seen anything similar. His protest songs are unique in Finland. Even after
his death the Finnish music industry has not seen an artist even close to
him. Usually Finnish artists are well-behaved, and try to act as role
models for their audience. Goodman was not well-behaved and did not try to
act as a role model, yet he still became successful. Irwin Goodman was
without a doubt one of the most remarkable and influential stars in the
history of Finnish pop music.
- All song names, lyrics and quotations in this paper were translated
from the Finnish by Sanna Sillanmäki.
- The Finnish surname "Humalamäki" consists of two parts: "humala"
and "mäki". The first part "humala" refers to the plant called hops, used
in making beer, but it may also refer to intoxication. Antti Hammarberg
and Veikko Salmi took advantage of this play on words when they made the
song Kännimäen mambo.
- Yleisradio is the Finnish national public service broadcasting
company, established in 1926 (Yleisradio).
- Tango had reached Finland already in the 1910s. The boom of Finnish
tango was between the years 1962 and 1965. At that time singers and
dancehalls divided into two groups: to those that were for tango and to
those that were against tango. This situation was most visible in
Ostrobothnia, where bands' employment contracts contained a clause
commanding that 60 per cent of the night's repertoire had to consist of
tangos (Historiikki). More information about Finnish tango can be found in
Merja Hautaniemi's research paper Dance Pavilion
Culture in Finland .
- In 1960 up to 71 per cent of the consumed alcohol was spirits.
Medium strength beer was introduced in 1969, which increased the
consumption of beer. Men did the drinking in the 1960s; approximately 40
per cent of women aged between 15 and 69 in 1968 said that they did not
drink (Alkoholinkäyttö). Although daily use of alcohol in Finland is
uncommon, the use of spirits in the 1960s may have led to heavy
intoxication, among workmen for example. For more information, see the
- For more information, see Visa Heinonen's article Nälkämaasta
- Ryysyrannan Jooseppi is a story of the Finnish proletariat.
The novel by Ilmari Kianto was published in 1924. Ryysyrannan
Jooseppi is one of
Finland's most renowned descriptions of the Finnish proletariat
- Ilmari Calamnius, who later changed his surname to Kianto, was a
Finnish author who lived between the years 1874 and 1970. He took part in
the establishment of the Union of Finnish Writers in 1892 (Tiesitkö).
- More information about Veikko Vennamo can be found in Kristiina
Tolvanen's research paper A Nation in
Transition: The Resettlement of the Karelian Evacuees.
- The Finnish currency changed in 2002 from the Finnmark to the euro. On
introduction, one euro was specified to be the equivalent of 5.94573
Finnmarks. 50,000 Finnmarks in 2002 would thus have been roughly 8,400
- Vexi Salmi and Kassu Halonen met in 1984. They have made almost
1,000 songs together. Salmi has been the lyricist for many of Halonen's
most famous songs (Historia).
- "Humppa" is a type of fast Finnish
- Sales of 15,000 albums entitles a domestic artist to a gold
- Sales of 60,000 albums entitles a domestic artist to a double
platinum. Platinum itself requires half of this number, or 30,000
- The original lyrics in Finnish are:
Katso silloin mä saan tehdä
aivan mitä tahdon
Tuo siniharmaa virkapuku kuin
- The original lyrics in Finnish are:
Taisi hommat nää nousta mulle nuppiin
Tehtiin tuolitkin minkistä vaan
Kauniit cocktailit sekoittelin kuppiin
Olin mahtavin päällä mä maan
Kun on jätkä niin jätkäksi myös jääkin
Verot fyrkkani kerralla vei
Jälleen köyhänä keikoillani määkin
Mulle rikkaus kuulunut ei
- The street poll as a whole can be found at YLE's website at Mielipiteitä protestilauluista ja Irwinistä.
- A traveller, especially to Russia and Estonia, whose purpose
for the travel is to enjoy and buy cheap alcohol.
- Aho, Marko. Iskelmäkuninkaan tuho. Suomi-iskelmän sortuvat
tähdet ja myyttinen sankaruus. Helsinki: Hakapaino Oy, 2003.
Alkoholinkäyttö Suomessa. Päihdelinkki. Viewed April 9, 2009.
- Goodman, Irwin. Raha ratkaisee. Muistiin merkinnyt Veikko
Salmi. 2nd Edition. Hämeenlinna: Arvi A. Karisto Osakeyhtiön kirjapaino,
- Gronow, Pekka. Goodman,
Irwin (1943-1991). Viewed April 9, 2009.
Kassu Halosen kotisivu. Viewed April 13, 2009.
Suomen Seuratanssiliitto SUSEL ry. Viewed April 7, 2009.
- Irwin Goodman. Pomus.net.
Viewed March 3, 2009.
Goodman: Ryysyranta. Yle.fi. Elävä arkisto. Viewed March 3, 2009.
- Rantala, Juha. Irwin Goodman: kehdosta hautaan. 3rd Edition.
Tampere: Juvenes Print, 2006.
Ryysyrannan Jooseppi. Kajaanin kaupunginkirjasto. Viewed March
- Salmi, Vexi. Irwin: Rentun ruusut collection cd's inside
Warner Music Finland Oy, 2000.
- - - -. Siniset mokkakengät/Mikä laulaen tulee. Juva: WS
Bookwell Oy, 2001.
- - - -. Vain elämää. Porvoo: WS Bookwell Oy, 2001.
Taiteilijavieraana Irwin Goodman. Interview. 3 June 1985.
Viewed March 3, 2009.
tämän Ilmari Kiannosta? Ilmari Kianto-seura ry. Viewed March 8,
- Wessman, Erkki. Rentun ruusu - kohtaamisia Irwin Goodmanin
kanssa. Hämeenlinna: Karisto Oy,1991.
- Yleisradio Oy
(YLE). |YLE| Info. Viewed March 8, 2009.