flower

Troubled Times part 2

Last month my son moved back to college, and apart from the constant worry about covid infection risk (his school is one of the ones handling it with every precaution, but that doesn't mean there is no risk - just less than at many other colleges in the US), and the normal 'missing my child like part of my heart is missing' feeling I have whenever we are apart (does that get better at some point or nah?), I also dearly miss my daily walking buddy. We started walking together on March 28th, and we only missed six days between then and August 22 - so that means we walked 169 days and nearly 430 miles together.

If there is one silver lining for me in this whole global crisis situation, it's that I had the chance to spend so much time with my son, talking about so many things. When I think back to this time, one of the major things I will remember is walking with him every day, and I am grateful for that time. In a couple of years he will graduate, the world will be in some new-normal state, and he will begin a career and move out - so you better believe I treasured every moment with him.

That said, on the first morning when I walked alone, I was grateful for that, too. For the first time since the shut down, I could give my inner life some space via these daily walks. You see, since March my days have been packed - wake up, light breakfast, walk with my son, shower, get online for work for 8-10 hours, dinner and TV with family, often overlapping with a little internet time for fun and/or for my side gig, then bed. Occasional phone calls with family and friends. I am still reading a book I started early in the shut down, usually over breakfast on the weekends. Paying bills, doing household chores, seeing neighbors for appropriately distanced socializing. Rinse, repeat. There is not a lot of free time in my schedule, and it wasn't until I was suddenly free of having to make conversation, at a time when I don't need to complete routine tasks, or attend another work meeting on Webex, that I realized my inner life was being so sorely neglected. I feel happier now after a month of solitary walks, and it has a lot to do with giving my inner life some space each day.

There is a ton I could say about why it's important to cultivate your inner life, but I imagine that's not what you come here to read about. If you happen to be interested in this and related ideas about why experiencing silence and why being alone is good for the soul, here are some really good articles from Brainpickings about those topics:

The Sound of Silence: An Illustrated Serenade to the Art of Listening to Your Inner Voice Amid the Noise of Modern Life
John Cage on Human Nature, Constructive Anarchy, and How Silence Helps Us Amplify Each Other’s Goodness
How to Be Alone: An Antidote to One of the Central Anxieties and Greatest Paradoxes of Our Time
Keeping Quiet: Sylvia Boorstein Reads Pablo Neruda’s Beautiful Ode to Silence

I bring up inner life in connection with this wonderful song for a few reasons:

1) I remember being a teenager, having a crush on someone, wanting to speak with them, hoping they would notice me, spending time in my room alternatively daydreaming and brooding over what it might be like to be with that person - and this song brings it all back. It's a reflection of what I guess is probably a very common teenage inner life experience, in other words. Being lost in your head over someone else, the longing and loneliness, it sounds very familiar. I wish I had this song to listen to in high school and college, I think it would have been like an anthem to me ;-)

2) In my opinion, the pivotal point of the song's story arc is 'Maybe one day soon it will all come out / How you dream about each other sometimes'. If I am understanding it correctly, that new awareness is the catalyst for these two people to finally be together, and seems to be part of why they were able to get through troubled times.

Why should dreaming about someone be so significant? Why is it such a big deal that it had to 'all come out' that they dream about each other?

Food for thought: How often do you tell someone you had a dream about them? Even a close friend or family member? Do you feel comfortable telling someone they were in your dreams? Or does it feel too personal to say something about it? Do you worry what someone might think if you told them you dream about them? Do you ever dream about someone and wonder what the hack they did to get into your dreams? That casual acquaintance who turns up somehow in a dream you can't shake when you wake up, and you begin to feel differently about them after that - closer to them, somehow?

Also: How often does anyone tell you they dream about you? Would it surprise you to find out an acquaintance at work had a dream about you? Or a classmate in school? Would that seem strange, even intrusive? Or would you feel somehow closer to them knowing they had a dream about you? How would you feel if your closest family and friends said they never dream about you - or dream about you a lot?

This is just my experience, but I don't talk about or witness many conversations about dreams. Dreams are part of our inner life, and as such I think people often protect them, consider them important but private. We may forget our dreams on waking, or carry them with us into our day; we may learn from our dreams or be thoroughly confused by them; we may experience our dearest wishes in our dreams, or our worst fears. The waking inner life is important, and so is the inner life of dreams.

I would argue, too, that dreaming about someone means that they are in some way an important part of your inner life. And that may be why these two people learning that they dream about each other gives them space to discover and share their real feelings, and to face troubled times together despite giving up before. You can go along missing the mark many times; you can think you know how someone feels about you for years even, believing them to be indifferent or maybe even disliking you, only to be shocked into the wonderful realization that all along you were part of their inner life, their dreams, and their hopes for the future, as they were in yours. But a future together isn't possible in this case until they share that part of their inner life, the part that reveals their love, the part that puts their vulnerability into the daylight. How beautiful and rare is that?

3) You may remember a few years ago I wrote a 'two lines' blog about 'Illuminate the Sky' by Martin Halla. The blog focused on 'I wish you'd stay', and I had intended to write about the other line, 'So we could enjoy each other's space'. In the end, I archived the first blog and didn't write the second blog - way too much of my inner life was/would have been on display, and again, you don't come here for that ;-) But this song now gives me one way to explain why the second line is important to me: he describes a closeness with someone that goes beyond mere attraction and/or sexual conquest ('not to invade or to degrade'), what he wants is a closeness of compatibility, and in my opinion, of inner life. To me it sounds like he's describing spending time together in close proximity, in conversation and in companionable silence, learning about one another's inner lives and finding a real joy and inspiration from this experience. I think of enjoying each other's space also as a kind of true intimacy, not just coming together for quick gratification - a spark that flares and dies - but a togetherness that offers a sustained connection that continues to grow - illuminating the sky with its brilliance.

4) Finally, musing about my inner life recently started me thinking about why Magne's music and art is important to me. I realized that in a way his songs have not only formed part of my inner life (in terms of the time I spend listening, thinking about and writing about them), they also resonate with the inner life I've always had. I can relate to his music in a way that I can't with Paul or Morten's music; the inner lives reflected in their songs sometimes feel almost alien to me. But what Magne shares of his inner life is accessible to me, familiar to me, even when I may not fully understand it, if that makes any sense.

>>>>

This is another blog that has been in my head for a while. After the loss of two family members in late July, and all the activity around my son moving back to school a month ago, we lost another family member this week. My heart is sore but I am trying to keep positive. Magne's recent post about music and art coming soon was a spark in the void for me this week. I am grateful to have something to look forward to that I know will have a place in my inner life, as all of his work does.

Take care out there, life is short x   
flower

today is yellow day

EDIT: New comments added below the video.



"The magic of pop music is, to me, that you can hear a song sort of off your radar, know about it and without even liking it for many years, and then something happens in your life that the next time you hear it, it's forever connected to that moment and that feeling, and it becomes important. It resonates in you because you're ready for it there and then. I like to think of my artwork in the same space."

That has definitely been my experience. My relationship with music changes over time, most often in relation to circumstances or moments in my life, and the same happens with art.

Here's an example. I've always loved 'Stay On These Roads', it's an objectively beautiful song. I've never been separated from a loved one in this way, though. I've heard the song live over 50 times, and of course I've listened to it hundreds of times over the years. Good song? Absolutely. But was it 'important' in my life? Not until the Oslo show on April 30, 2016. I was in the third row, with Amanda and other dear friends, and the song started as usual. Then suddenly I heard lyrics in a whole new way:

"Old man feels the cold"

Instantly, unbidden, came the mental image of my father when he was in the hospital, and how he was constantly feeling cold towards the end of his life. He often wore woven, fingerless gloves that went up to the elbow; he usually also had a red and white crocheted blanket across his legs, which he was so fond of. The blanket was a gift from a women's organization that donated various handmade items to the Armed Forces hospital where my father was being treated during his 20-month illness. When I think of that time of his life, our lives, I will always picture him wrapped up warm against the cold, in that red and white blanket, with a bright, beaming smile to show us how comfy he was. Through various facility transfers, the blanket traveled with him, until he had an emergency procedure several days before his death, and it was lost in transit. It's funny how grief works; I grieved his death with all my heart, and still encounter waves of profound grief at his loss, but I also grieve a little over that red and white blanket, which we all looked for after he died and is lost to our family forever. It was just a blanket, but any one of us would have treasured it because it brought him so much joy and comfort during his last months.

Long story short, those five words during the concert hit me like a ton of bricks, words I had never paid much attention to before. Suddenly I was crying and hanging on to Amanda's hand for strength. That powerful association of the song with my father, feeling so cold during his final illness just a few months before, was something I never would have expected or been able to prevent; I now can't hear the song performed without feeling that same intense sadness from that moment in Oslo, which crashed in on me so unexpectedly. Every time the song starts, if Amanda is with me, she holds my hand or puts her arm around me, or just quietly offers a tissue. So my association with the song also includes her dear friendship and understanding, which makes it a lot less painful to hear.

"In fact, probably the most thrilling comment for me is when people come up to me years later and say 'oh I really miss the atmosphere you created in this museum...I miss being in that room' and that has something to do with atmosphere, it has to do with charging the room. This is what you do when you write music, you charge the room for the recipient."

I totally get this! You form a relationship with space just as much as with art and music. When I went to Edinburgh Printmakers in 2004 to see 'Payne's Grey', I spent many hours in the gallery there. First there was the preview on the Saturday, which Magne and his family were late for due to a flight delay into Glasgow; a number of us were waiting for his arrival, with encouragement and updates from the gallery staff so we'd stay on until he arrived. During that time, music from the album was playing in the gallery, and that absolutely created a mood. Then we returned on Monday evening for the official opening of the exhibition, which was also very special. Plus there was the energy from Magne himself, he was proud of this work and eager to perform as well. It was such an important moment in his career, we all felt part of something unique and important. I miss that atmosphere, I miss that room and that art and that music and those people. Not only will that exhibition not happen again, but that room is gone - Edinburgh Printmakers has moved to a new, renovated building that looks beautiful on Insta.

Speaking of 'charging the room', if you are unsure what this means, all you have to do is watch this video from last December. I can't wait to watch the entire concert when it becomes available. At least that charged room and atmosphere was captured and we will be able to go back to it whenever we want :-)
flower

small joys 5

Earlier this week I lost two family members, one at the age of 46 in a shocking accident, the other at the age of 93 in his sleep. This global crisis has been so stressful for everyone, even those in places where the virus is getting under control, at the very least because life as we know it is changed forever. And now adding shock and grief to the mix of already complicated emotions and worries, I am in dire need of hope and positivity.

Long story short, over the last day or two I have been taking time to focus on things that bring me happiness and trying to express gratitude for even the smallest joys I'm experiencing these days. And within the context of this blog, I looked back at past entries and saw that it has been almost two years since I posted a 'small joys' list about MF related things, so here we go. Hopefully some of these things bring you joy as well, or at least cause you to consider what other joys you have to lighten your heart in these difficult times.

~ Magne has some works on exhibit at Nicolines Hus in Kragerø. You can see photos and some video clips of the works on the gallery's Facebook page and Instagram account, as well as this web page. Not only is the art stunning - I have a particular weakness for the tones of green in 'We grow in numbers' - but I am intrigued by the names of the works, as well.

It's wonderful to see what Magne has been creating; granted we don't know the relationship of these works to the pandemic, perhaps they were created before and are only now being shown due to situational delays? In any case, they are calming and beautiful and a wonderful visual and emotional break from all I am feeling now. I wish I could see works like these every day. If I lived in Kragerø, I could see myself visiting often and spending time there. I guess that's why they have chairs around the gallery, I can imagine myself sitting there happily for a while.

~ Magne did an interview with a German radio program recently, which you can hear from 11:50 to 19:10 here. The source article is here.

The article covers what's probably discussed in more depth in the interview, which unfortunately is dubbed in German. Anyway it talks about isolation and creativity, and this new world we're living in. Apparently due to the pandemic, he is 'experiencing a period of calm like never before'.

He reads a poem at the end, and I find myself wishing I could listen to him reading more of his written works, whether poetry or prose. The poem he reads in this interview was originally posted on MySpace on August 21, 2006, among several others that day. Here is the full text:

redux

close your ears to the noise
shut your eyes to the flickering
guard your heart against hope
take your mind off the mess you're in
mute that mouth for a moment
hold your tongue with its bickering
keep those thoughts to yourself
and just watch how you go;
life is for learning
what you already know
(and if life's to practice dying,
then at least we go practicing)
take control of this chaos
make yourself disappear
it is almost as if
you never were here

Find this and all of Magne's MySpace blogs here.

~ This one is sort of random. I saw this quote on Twitter, "The heart doesn’t break; it folds into new shapes like origami" and it made me think of 'Undo my heart':

Undo my heart
take it apart
and piece me back together

It's an interesting idea that the damage done to our hearts in life are more like folds than breaks; painful, closing off events that cause us to retreat inside to protect ourselves. I like the idea of 'take it apart' meaning to open up those folds, to allow light to shine on the hidden parts of our heart, and the piecing back together meaning that the heart returns to the shape it should be in - open, whole, and ready to love again. Perhaps some new folds become necessary, to lock away old pain in a safe place where it can't disturb you anymore, without denying what happened or attempting to erase it. The heart remembers, but it sometimes needs help reconfiguring past trauma so that it becomes a smaller part, so the larger part can become healthy and beautiful again.

Anyway, an interesting interpretation that came to mind about a song I have loved for years.

~ The first video Magne posted of 'Troubled Times' still brings me joy, I am not embarassed to admit that I watch it a couple of times a week probably. I love how raw and honest his voice is, I love his vulnerability and courage, I love how the movement of our view is almost like being rocked in someone's arms - it reminds me of that natural comforting sway that all new parents seem to learn early on, that calms both parent and child. And the way his voice catches a little when he sings 'you dream about each other sometimes' and he's looking at the camera - you can tell how much this song and the sentiment means to him. Really powerful.

~ Two years ago last week, I was in Copehangen to see a-ha (here is my blog post from that trip). The realization just hit me that the Copenhagen show was my last a-ha concert for a long while - with European shows being scheduled for spring and the LA shows likely being rescheduled as well, not to mention that with this virus out in the world, I have no intention of flying anywhere even domestically without a vaccine - but if it turns out that way, I cannot complain. The Copenhagen show and that entire trip was such a wonderful experience for me, and seeing pictures and videos from that time in my social media memories last week made me so happy. I will always be grateful for that time with a dear friend in a beautiful city listening to music we love.

~ Filip Clements has been releasing really great music since the early part of the shutdown, and he had a gig (or two?) earlier this week in Askar. You can watch a video clip here, complete with proud papa watching in the forefront. Listen to his tunes on Soundcloud.

I saw that tonight's gig is postponed due to a band member having Covid symptoms, and of course now I am terribly worried about all in attendance at the shows this week. Events like this can be high transmission situations if people aren't careful - and no one was wearing a mask, or social distancing. I know in Norway the virus is under control, but everyone needs to have their guard up, especially those who are nearing 60 and have smoked for years and have been treated for a heart condition....Magne, please stay safe so I can tell you someday that I dream about you sometimes ;-) (oh come on, as much time as I spend listening to his music and compiling all the web content about him, of course he's in my dreams sometimes LOL)

~ Since I've been working from home, I don't commute anymore (obviously), and that means I don't get to listen to my music as loud as I want in my car and sing my heart out very often. My house is too small for me to even just close my door for a while and blast music without disturbing others. Singing with the radio in the car has always been a little fun escape for me, and I didn't realize how much I missed it until the other day when I had taken a day off to go to several routine doctor appointments. I had the whole day to myself, played my music as loud as I wanted, and sang my way through a great playlist and Martin Halla's 'Winter Days', which I hadn't heard in a long time - that album reminds me of a time when I was so hopeful, and although much of the hope I felt at the time has long since evaporated, the music brought it back to me when I really needed it.

~ If I am lucky with timing, it's possible for me to see what music Magne (or whoever runs his account, but I think it's likely him) is listening to on Spotify :-) It's so interesting to listen to the music he likes, and I have to admit that we don't seem to have very much music in common, but that's what's great about this - I am hearing music I wouldn't otherwise discover.

~ Also, totally unrelated, 11 years ago today I saw Paul McCartney in concert. What a memory! Music is life, it really is. The other day my family watched 'Last Christmas', and I burst into tears at the end when the charity concert starts off. The room is full of people, family and friends, the homeless and all the people who work so hard to help them, and it's Christmas time and there is joy and togetherness, and I MISS CONCERTS SO MUCH. As time goes on I am more and more grateful for having been at Magne's show in Oslo in December. My memories of the short days and the snowy evenings and the solftly lighted church filled with music are both comforting and a little bit melancholy - but I am so glad I have them.
rah

Troubled Times part 1

The 'Troubled Times' single and music video are out now (click to download/stream/watch). The video was made with contributions from fans about their experience during the coronavirus pandemic. Watch it here:



There are so many touching and creative video clips, I love the one of the grandson hugging his grandmother from a distance. All of the little peeks at people's daily life are like a gift. People trying to find a way to live life as normal at a very not-normal time; people connecting over the computer; children learning to walk; the standard 'quarantine haircut/shave' clips; the views of nature that may have only been possible because someone had to slow down enough to notice; and more. Just wonderful.

The editing is really well done and the clips tell an authentic, personal, interwoven story that makes you feel like part of something bigger than yourself.

~~~~~~~

There is a pond near my house with a fountain in it. We've driven by it or walked by it hundreds of times since we moved here 21 years ago. Every Memorial Day weekend, our community has a summer kickoff party around the shore of this pond, complete with carnival rides and games, food trucks, a beer garden, and fireworks. My son's high school graduation party was at the club house next to the pond, and one year his group of friends took their group prom photos there. We spend summer days at the community pool next to the pond, and the swim team holds its awards ceremony on the field nearby, followed by a pool party. My son and I have been walking 2-3 miles a day since late March, taking various neighborhood routes depending on how much time we have and how many miles we want to get in, and the route by the pond is our most common choice because it's the most beautiful.

This year the pool is closed, and there was no Memorial Day summer kickoff party for the first time in decades. Every time I walk by the pond now, I think about all the fun memories we have there and the friends we share them with, and my hope for better days when we can all gather there again.

The week that videos were requested for the 'Troubled Times' video, we tried several times to record interesting videos along our walking routes. On the day of the deadline, it was a little overcast and time was short, and we knew it was our last chance to record something to send in.

As we approached the pond that morning, we saw a blue heron standing near the shore. They are pretty rare in my area, so rare that when anyone in my neighborhood spots one, we text the group and say where we've seen it ;-) So without even talking about it, we both knew we had to try to record the heron for my video.

We were at the street side of the pond, trying to inch toward the bird without disturbing it, when it flew off to the far shore. We slowly wandered to where the heron was standing in the shallow water, trying not to alarm it. Amazingly, I was able to get fairly close to it, and started filming as I approached. I knew it was likely to take off and fly away, and I wanted to catch this in my video - and sure enough, he rose up and flew past a willow towards the fountain in the middle of the pond. I stopped recording and allowed myself to breathe :-)

My video represents so much to me, both the memories from many years around the pond, and the memories of my daily walks with my son during these strange, quiet times. And it's clear from all the wonderful videos that are part of the video that they each represent significant experiences and parts of people's lives. I can imagine Magne and his son going through all the clips, creating the storyboard and making the difficult decisions about which clips to include. And I can imagine how much they enjoyed having the project to work on together during these times, as well.
rah

making monsters

Last December, Magne posted a remixed track from 'White Xmas Lies' every day on his IGTV, as a kind of Advent calendar. The track would be online for approximately one day, and removed when the next track was added.

It was such a wonderful thing to log in to Instagram every day (ok, yes, multiple times a day!) and listen to the new remix. The Advent calendar started on December 1st, of course, which was the day I left home to fly to Oslo for the WXL concert. I remember being in the airport listening to the remix of 'There Goes Another Year', and then immediately upon arrival in Oslo, opening Instagram to listen to the next track - a super awesome version of 'The Ghost of Xmas Past'. December 7th and 8th were my two favorites - mixes of 'Revelation Song' and 'Come Back Home', both of which gave me chills.

This won't be a surprise to any of you who followed along as avidly, but may be news to some: on December 20th, Magne posted a track that didn't make it on the album. We don't know the name of the track, and I didn't save the text he posted along with it, so I have very few details about it other than a vague memory of him saying something along the lines of maybe he should release it someday..? Anyway, all you need to know is that in the midst of all these known tracks being shared each day, something completely new was out there for what I think amounted to less than 24 hours.

I remember two good friends messaging me, saying how 'sweet' the new song was, and using heart emojis. I found some time in my work day to listen to the track, and...I was honestly shocked. Shocked by the topic, shocked that my friends described it as 'sweet', shocked at my reaction overall.

The song was about sexual (I assume, based on context) abuses in the Catholic Church.

I am Catholic. I went to Catholic school my whole life, I was confirmed in Israel, I went to a Catholic university, I married in the Church, and my Methodist husband agreed to raise our children Catholic. And I was probably 25 years old when I first heard about contemporary sexual abuses in a parish local to me. Of course I had read or heard various historical facts about such things, but I didn't know for example that the priest at my parents' parish school was a known abuser of altar boys until two years after I moved out of their house and stopped going to that church. The common way of dealing with these situations was apparently to (1) keep it under close wraps and keep the congregation in ignorance; and (2) transfer 'problematic' priests to other parishes, where I suppose they were free to start up the same behavior again, until they were transferred once more. No criminal prosecution, no jail time, just cover ups and hypocrisy.

Needless to say, I am older and wiser now. I pay close attention to the news reports and the whispers. I am ashamed of what my faith community has allowed throughout its history, of the disbelief in those who reported abuse, of the disgraceful denial of wrongdoing and denial of justice for victims, of the lack of oversight and protections for children (and any others) who suffered at the hands of religious leaders in our community. But that doesn't mean I feel comfortable having a non-Catholic writing a song about this topic in such a way that casts judgement on all Catholics. The lyrics that stick with me most are:

"the congregation's quiet
they bow their heads in shame
[...]

the priests have all been outed
the Pope is so ashamed
the cardinals must go to jail
for all the lives they've maimed"

I find nothing 'sweet' about this song, even while I can admit that these abuses happened and that when there is justice, the resolution described in the song would be a wonderful thing.

My mother would say that it's not Magne's place to write a song about the Church when he isn't a member; she'd say that within the Church tradition, we have always had the responsibility to root out abuses and punish them within our own community, and we don't need outsiders to tell us what we should be ashamed of or imply that a large portion of our leadership should go to jail. I can hear her in my imagination, "Where does he get off, singing about this?"

What I struggle with most is that line 'they bow their heads in shame...' The idea that as a member of the Catholic Church, I share some part of the blame for the terrible crimes of others is difficult to wrap my head around. At first I resolved never to listen to the song again. I couldn't believe Magne - who has described himself as not very religious, and who lives in a predominantly Lutheran country, in any case - would feel moved to tell this particular story in the context of Christmas music; and this was, to me, jarring and even a bit disappointing. How could I have known about something that was actively hidden from view? How could I share in the blame of those who committed atrocities when I honestly - hand on heart - didn't have any clue it was happening in my own parish?

It took some time and introspection to really dig into my reaction to this song and acknowledge my own part of the blame. I could possibly have pleaded ignorance of specific situations that I had no knowledge of, of course, but once I learned about that priest in my old parish, what did I do? Nothing. I didn't research to find out what happened to that priest or their victims, I didn't ask the leaders of my own new parish what they are doing to prevent any such abuses in our community, I didn't take on any personal responsibility for either justice for victims or systemic improvements designed to ensure this wouldn't happen again. And this self blame sits heavily on me now, where there was none before. It would be so easy to resent Magne for being the catalyst for this awareness of blame and guilt, and I did (mildly) for a little while, but that's because it was an uncomfortable and unwelcome realization.

On some level it's natural to want to reject uncomfortable self knowledge like this. We're human and we want to believe in our own goodness. Does my inaction on behalf of those who suffered abuses in the Catholic Church make me a bad person? Or does my action in other areas of my life, on behalf of others who are suffering or at a disadvantage, somehow help balance the scales in favor of goodness? We can't all act on every injustice, and we can't all solve every one of the world's problems. But I do believe we should strive to be informed, and to act in the service of justice and faith and love whenever possible. The song has given me a lot to think about.

>>>>>>

When 'This is now America' came out originally last August, I remember there was a vehement resistance to it from lifelong fans who are Trump supporters.

'You've lost me as a fan now!'
'Stick with songwriting, and stay out of politics!'
'You should pay more attention to what's happening in your own country!'
'Why do you hate America/Americans?'
'Where do you get off, singing about this?'

I thought it was so interesting how some people refused to acknowledge at the very least that what happens in America impacts the whole world, and as such, our politics are a matter for everyone and anyone to respond to in their own way. But I simply chalked up that resistance to 'party opposition', a hill that many would die on for far less than this song asserts, and didn't think about it for very long.

It wasn't until the release of the second music video, in February, that I could recognize the same pattern from my response to the unknown, unreleased song I wrote about above. I had done the same thing: heard a song that went counter to my belief about a community I belong to, and counter to my own sense of responsibility as a member of that community, and felt resistance and disappointment first and foremost. Trump followers denying the content and implication of his words made sense to me because his perspective is uncomfortable and unwelcome to some, and that was how I felt about the December song.

In other words, I finally got it. It's difficult to accept responsibility, especially when it's not *personal* responsibility - I didn't abuse any altar boys, and Trump followers (for the most part) didn't actually cage any babies or shoot up any schools or personally condone all of Trump's immoral, selfish, inept, racist, traitorous, greedy, crazy behavior. Yet they listened to the song and perhaps felt some new, implied responsibility weighing on them, and they didn't like it.

In the same way that I have a responsibility to be an active part of my faith community's prevention of and response to any abuses, citizens have a responsibility to hold their leaders accountable. And not just the ones you voted for - all of the leaders whose sworn job is to serve the best interests of their constituents and the nation at large. Which means that when I hear 'This is now America', I not only heartily agree with everything said about Trump, who I have always believed to be the worst leader this country could have/has ever had, but I now also finally accept my part of the responsibility for his having been elected.

No, of course I didn't vote for him. Do you know me at all?!

On election night 2016, I was in absolute shock that Trump won the election. I couldn't believe there were so many people who believed he would do anything for anyone but himself - and I couldn't believe there were so many people who could look past (now I know they agree with) his racism and ignorance and science denial and misogyny, and....I just couldn't believe it. How could we as a country sink so low? I thought.

The reality is we were always this low. For one thing, there are systemic issues of racism and misogyny and more - all right there, since our founding, which contributed to the rise and election of this narcissistic, pathological liar with dementia. That is the reality we live with every day, the knowledge that even though we don't support him, he reflects a large part of our society, and it's devastating to see it so clearly. There are people in this country who literally believe that some people don't deserve to live as much as others, and they are now willing to be open about this and cause suffering for others.

I think ultimately this is one of the main reasons why the song didn't get as much notice here as perhaps Magne had hoped. Either you hate the song because it bashes 'dear leader', or you agree with the song but it perhaps reminds you of your part in this nightmare we're living through - especially now, when people are dying because as a nation we did nothing to fix the problems that led to his election. As a 'protest song' I think it arrived perhaps two years too late to gain any kind of 'popularity' or audience. By last August, and certainly by this February, none of us who agree with Magne wanted to be reminded of our responsibility and failure. The cost of that failure is incalculable as we grieve 100,000 lives lost as of today to COVID-19.

>>>>>


This blog - or some form of it - has been in my mind for weeks now. I've had a hard time getting myself to sit down and write this, and looking over the draft so far, I am not happy with it. But I needed it out and on 'paper', and I will likely revise it soon.

One of the things that finally motivated me to write this entry was the #ThisIsAmerica hashtag trending today. Two incidents of racial injustice took place in the last day that sadly exemplify the country we live in today. The first is a white woman who called the police to report a black man who 'scared her' when he asked her politely to leash her dog in an area of Central Park with copious posted signs about the leash law, and the second is the brutal killing of a black man by a police officer in Minnesota. Yet again I have to stop myself - my privileged, white self - from saying 'What have we become?' and remind myself that we have always been this. And white women played a huge part in getting Trump elected, and therefore the culture that is permissive of racism and hate we see more and more today. I'm heartbroken at the constant reminders of my part in this, despite being someone who never supported Trump, as a white cisgendered woman with privilege, I share some responsibility for the culture that allowed his election.

>>>>>

To quote another of Magne's songs:

"now everyone can name the monster
but not see their own hand in its making"

I guess ultimately what I am saying is that we do have a responsibility, all of us, in this world we're in. We are responsible to one another no less than we are to ourselves. And our hands are in the making of monsters - whether that be Church leaders, Trump, individual racists, or yes, ourselves. One of my brothers is a Trump supporter, and he is one of the most devoted, loyal, generous, kind, authentic and wonderful people I know. But when I hear about what he believes - or says he believes - these days, I sometimes wonder if he has become a monster, and if there is a way back for him. There are so many monsters out there, who justify evil, who have no empathy for their fellow man, who demand to be held to different standards than others, and on and on. I'm devastated on a daily basis when I run into the monsters out there, in part because I share some of the responsibility for making - or at least not actively standing up against - them.

The responsibility is uncomfortable, but necessary. So I don't resent it, I want to learn from it and do better. If you feel the same way, may I suggest this helpful and wonderful Twitter thread about stopping any wrongdoing and making amends. It's powerful and important work for all of us to undertake when we recognize that we have done wrong to another.
NY4

waiting for that music

Yes, I already mentioned that Martin Terefe's album is coming out on Friday and I can't wait for it.

Yes, I already mentioned that Filip Clements is releasing music on his Soundcloud that you should check out. Update? His newest song is really good!





Meanwhile, today Magne started a song challenge of sorts, and promised new music 'later in the week'. Nothing like a little competition! Give. Me. Your. Music.




Gosh I'm greedy. I haven't even written about the tracks from WXL yet (and I have a lot to say!) or the concert in Oslo, which turns out to be the last concert I saw before the shutdown. I'd love for Magne to be the first artist I see after the shutdown - I love symmetry, as you know. And now that concerts are impossible for months and months, the only live experience I am really pining for is another chance to see Magne sing his heart out. Like really lean into it, eyes closed, arms wide, holding the entire audience in thrall. Church lighting optional. The memory of December is one of the many precious things that gives me hope for times after the virus.

Whatever, give me your music :-) 
NY3

new music by association

I've found a lot of great music through Magne over the years. If you're looking for new music these days, check these out:

Filip Clements - Magne's son is releasing new songs every few days on his Instagram and Soundcloud. It's great how he posts IG stories to thank people who share his music. He obviously has his father's gift for crafting longing:

"You’re on the other side of the globe now
You’re all I want still and remember that"

Martin Terefe - His new album, 'The Involuntary Gardiner' is out this coming Friday. Check out some clips on his Instagram, and the first two singles, 'The Involuntary Gardiner' and 'Breaking'. If you're interested, there is vinyl and art goodness on his web site. I pre-ordered the album a while back and I haven't looked forward to a new album as much in a while (apart from WXL, of course ;-)).

Jonas Bjerre - His score for the documentary series 'Scandinavian Star' includes 38 tracks, almost two hours of music. Find it on Spotify here. It's really something.

Shaun Bartlett - One of Magne's talents from The Voice, Shaun has been doing some live shows in his home, and playing old and new tracks. Watch one of his live videos here.

Ellen Andrea Wang - I discovered Ellen via the band GURLS, who opened for a-ha in Oslo in 2018. She's a bassist, singer and composer, and her new single is 'Nobody Knows', and it's wonderful.

Edited to add:

Sondre Lerche - Sondre opened for a-ha in Oslo on 2002 and I have followed his releases since then. He recently recorded a concert for NRK that you can watch here
flower

fill the world with beauty

On March 20th, Magne wrote a short reflection about our current global crisis and how "caring for each other is not just a nice idea, it is an absolute necessity." That's so beautiful and so true. I see evidence of this caring every day, and it brings me hope. We should all do our best to ensure this caring and concern for one another outlasts the virus, and helps inform changes we need to make on a local, national and global level to promote not just our ongoing biological survival, but the preservation of all that is good and universal in our humanity."

Magne also wrote, "i think the best thing we artists can do in the short term, is to try and fill the world with beauty." At a time like this, it's more important than ever for artists of all kinds to continue to create art; to offer respite, inspiration, reflection, diversion, truth and joy - and so much else besides. So many artists are giving so freely these days, despite the fact that arts related industries are among those experiencing significant economic loss and instability. It's wonderful to see what people are doing for one another in terms of creative expression and connection in this space - there is so much art to experience these days that I wish I had more hours in the day to surround myself in it and drink it in.
_____

I wanted to end this post with an extremely inspiring post made by another artist I admire, Amanda Palmer, early this year. At the time, she was touring in Australia as the fires raged and decimated forests and property and animal life. It was a catastrophe the likes of which I still can't fully comprehend. Here is a partial quote from this post:

"I got some comments from people criticizing me for posting about a touring artist when my focus should be on the news, the catastrophe, the fires. how can we talk about art and music when the world is on fire. BECAUSE THAT’S WHAT WE HAVE TO DO. just because there are houses on fire doesn’t mean that there aren’t artists on fire. in fact, when the flames of the world rise, so must the art-flames rise to battle pain and suffering with the quenching firehose of art and togetherness and connection and reflection and expression, we’ve been doing this as a human species from the dawn of time. during world war two, winston churchill was called upon to cut funding for the arts so that all money could go towards the war effort. and he purportedly refused, saying: “Then what would we be fighting for?"
"whatever happens, whatever burns, don’t lose hold of the art and the music and the comedy and the painting and the singing and the dancing and how important it is to who we fundamentally are. we lose our stories and we die. mourn. march. protest. yes. and wig out and cry and dance. me and lizzo and a thousand other touring artists ain’t going anywhere, we will dance you through the flames til the end of time."

Two months later, she played the last show on her tour and went straight into quarantine, and many touring artists had to end their tours, including a-ha. The artists went home, as we all did, and yet thanks to the words and art and music from many artists, they are still with us, they are dancing with us through the flames. I find that whole quote (and the photo) so beautiful, and I think Amanda expresses much more extensively a message similar to what probably Magne intended as well - artists create and fill the world with beauty, and I'd argue, hope. I am so grateful to the artists in these dark days.
flower

'Julia' from Apparatjik

On Friday Apparatjik released a new song called 'Julia'. The video was made by Jonas:



Jonas, Martin, Magne and Apparatjik all posted something to promote the song on their Instagram accounts, here is what Magne wrote:

"these times of great woe, worry and sorrow also serve as an important reminder that caring for each other is not just a nice idea, it is an absolute necessity.
look how small this little virus has made the world! ’everyone for themselves’ will not work.
worrying about what is happening on the other side of the world from you is a good thing. coming together is a great and powerful thing. every challenge offers opportunity.
i think the best thing we artists can do in the short term, is to try and fill the world with beauty. maybe later we should all just help pick potatoes, but for now please accept this offering as a small sign that we care."

I can't believe I didn't remember that on February 1st, Apparatjik teased something coming on March 20th, it fell completely off my radar. Time was when me and my fellow Apparatjik fans were talking on the forums and social media every single day about the band and their music, working through the interesting experimental mazes on their web site, dissecting lyrics and basically living and breathing strange. I think in light of what's happening in the world, this is understandable, though.

It has been a while since I promised more frequent updates here (was that December, or was that years ago now?!?), and I haven't forgotten. Even with social distancing and staying home due to the virus, I am still working two jobs and I have even more to do at home in terms of helping my son adjust to online college courses, and since I can't visit my mom (who is still recovering from two knee surgeries last year), I spend a lot of time on the phone with her and other relatives. All of those things are good - things could be much worse, and they are much worse for others who have lost their jobs or are struggling with health or other challenges - but I have even less free time than I had before social distancing began. Still I have several blogs hanging around in the back of my brain that I hope to write sometime soon :-)

I hope you are all doing well, wherever you are. We're in this together, and we'll get through it. 
peace magne

web site stuff and spotify

Early in the year, I purchased a new theme for the archive site, and spent several days customizing it. There were some options I really liked about it, but in the end I reverted to my old theme - too much of the content would have had to be edited to look right in the new theme. And honestly, I still like the old one, even though it's apparently not mobile friendly...

Anyway, Wordpress now has some fun new post options, including much better social media post embedding. Since the archive part of the site is taking longer to build out than I had ever planned, I set up a 'social feed' page on the site that will be set on the home page. This way people will quickly see what's new with each visit, and it's easy for me to update on the fly, without a lot of writing or formatting. We'll see how that goes.

I've also updated the Quotes page, and started working on the Videos. There aren't that many new official videos, but there are new media videos that I can add to the different playlists I have on YouTube. One other thing I've done is I've added sidebar ads for Magne's Spotify and YouTube channels.

There is still so much to do, and I'll keep at it as long as I find the project interesting :-)

About Spotify, Magne has been updating his playlists, so be sure to check those out. His 'faves' list was created back in September, and he's added/modified tracks at least six times since then. You can find his playlists here:

1. xmas faves (last update: January 2)
2. magne f faves (last update: January 22)
3. songs i wish received some more love - not every song can be a hit - but every song can find someone who will appreciate it. (last update: September 19)
4. magne furuholmen complete playlist - all or almost all of my solo stuff (last update: November 4)
5. the most underrated album - i produced this album with martin terefe some years ago. it was recorded with tini's vocals and all done live and simultaneously in one big room, real old school. we thought it would take the world by storm, it shoulda. (last update: September 19)

It's still a big disappointment that 'Past Perfect Future Tense' is not available in the US on Spotify. I am sure there are administrative reasons for this, but I do most of my streaming on there, and I hate having to go over to Apple Music just for several albums that are still not on Spotify, including this one (another is 'Winter Days' by Martin Halla, which I'd listen to so much more if I could do it more conveniently). So when I go to the 'complete playlist' I just sigh to myself and make a mental note to go listen to PPFT on Apple Music sometime.

One thing that people may not be aware of is that when an artist has a Spotify Artist account, they often also have a profile. The reason for this is that only profiles can make playlists - artist accounts can't create them. This again must be for some kind of technical reason, but it causes confusion sometimes. So let's say you go to an artist profile, they have 1-2 'featured playlists' and you go to the playlist and follow it - and realize that the account that made the playlist isn't the artist account. Then you wonder if the playlists are really 'official' or if you should follow the profile and not the artist.

Magne's artist account on Spotify is here. His profile account is here. You can and should follow both, and that way you will be able to see all of his playlists, not just the ones featured on his artist profile.

I've been enjoying his 'faves' playlist, he is such a huge inspiration to me that it's interesting to see what songs/artists we might like in common, and which we don't. I used to watch the Monkees TV show back in high school and I had all of their albums at one point, so 'Me & Magdalena' was a delightful inclusion here :-)  I'd heard a lot about Kent but hadn't checked them out before, and the song 'Dom andra' is really good. Must give their other music a listen. Meanwhile I have never understood what the big deal with Radiohead is/was, and the track he included does nothing for me; however I've always resisted Beck, but the song Magne chose here is really growing on me. And of course 'Bedshaped' by Keane is another wonderful selection that I'm happy we both appreciate.

Anyway, I do hope he continues to update his playlist, it's very interesting to hear the music he likes :-)