“Ancestress” by Björk (ft. Sindri Eldon)
Letting the cat out of the bag early, whom Björk and her son are singing about is their literal ancestress, as in Bjork’s mother, who gave up the ghost at 72 years of age in 2018. Björk , given her profession and all, was of course going to have some type of musical reaction to said passing. And this song is one of those results, whose lyrics the tenured songstress described as the words she would have recited if she had played the role of the priest at her mom’s funeral.
Even though Bjork began working on this piece directly after the said event, these lyrics are not the product of spontaneity.
Sentiments of the Lyrics of “Ancestress”
The wording of this piece is very poetic. But by and large, the sentiments that are most-easily discernible are as follows:
The vocalist(s) had a lot of respect for her mother. She perceived her as a lady of “integrity”, and relatedly, by the looks of things, mom dukes didn’t go out easy.
Indeed, doing a bit of math would indicate that Björk’s mom was born sometime during the mid-1940s. And it is true that people from that time may be less inclined to, say, agree to be put on a pacemaker, as in this narrative. But ultimately, what’s further implied is that the ancestress was suffering from a severe case of dyslexia, as well as presumably other issues (since a pacemaker is used to deal with heart problems). And things eventually reached the point where her body couldn’t take it any longer.
Secondly, it is obvious that the vocalists were affected by their matriarch’s passing. By design, the lyrics are not overly sentimental. But it is apparent that Björk and Sindri perceive the late Hildur as a matriarch whose influence transcended her lifetime, in a manner of speaking. Or put otherwise, she was in fact the physical, palpable manifestation of their ancestors.
Relatedly, the third main sentiment is akin to the vocalist(s) being able to perceive some of her mother’s characteristics in herself. As sorta implied, maybe there was a time in the past when Björk had beef with her mom, or whatever. But now more than ever seemingly, she has come to realize that she doesn’t have any other choice but to accept that she and her mother are inseparable, again, in a manner of speaking.
Furthermore, she also seems to understand that she didn’t come from “no mediocre” stock. Put simply, her mother and those who preceded her and fashioned the ancestress into who she was truly were some hard people, if you will.
In conclusion, we are compelled to once again highlight that the metaphorical nature of this piece would itself imply that there’s some deeper stuff going than what has been touched upon in this analysis. Indeed, considering that this song is basically a condensed biography and eulogy, it’s sorta like a short story in and of itself, if you were to take the lyrics alone for instance.
And bringing all of the wording together, the simplest way to define this track is as the vocalist(s) understanding some time beforehand that it was nearing the moment for her mother/ancestress to leave the mortal plane. But still, when such transpired, it had a really profound effect on her/them.
Release of “Ancestress”
Björk is a prominent singer from Iceland who has been hard in the game for well over four decades as of the dropping of “Ancestress” on 22 September 2022.
This song was brought to us via a London-based indie label called One Little Independent (OLI) Records. This label has been responsible for almost all of Björk’s studio albums thus far.
“Ancestress” was released as one of the singles from a 2022 studio album titled “Fossora”, which is Bjork’s first since 2017’s “Utopia”.
Other singles from Bjork’s “Fossora” album are:
NOTE: There’s another song found on “Fossora” that was inspired by the passing of Bjork’s mom, one Hildur Rúna Hauksdóttir, which is titled “Sorrowful Soil”.
The featured vocalist on this track, Sindri Eldon, also happens to be Björk’s oldest child (out of two), whom the songstress gave birth to in 1986. Apparently he is not a professional singer.
Björk produced this track herself. On the songwriting part, she and Sindri are credited as its writers.
A Chinese-American filmographer who has an established history with Björk by the name of Andrew Thomas Huang directed the music video to “Ancestress”.