flower

sing me springtime

As I've said before, 'I'm In' was/is what my heart needed, particularly in the moments, hours, and days after its release. I will always love that song, despite the fact that it will always remind me of a time of great worldwide sorrow and difficulty. There is still more to say about it, one of these days...one of these days. 

In the meantime, now that we're in a kind of waiting and hoping mode for more songs, I can't help but think about what is coming next, and if it will evoke another truly personal response in me. I try not to hope for that, because I don't want to set myself up for disappointment, and because it's super unrealistic. Artists do what they do, and it's our job to simply receive the art and make of it what we will.

But if I were to hope, if I allowed myself to wish for a song from him to make me feel a certain kind of way...I would want a song that brings me springtime, a light at the end of the tunnel, the promise of new beginnings. 

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flower

It's good to want things

(reused title, sue me ;-))

This new LJ editor easily embeds posts from social media. Look how easily. I may have to start liking this. 

https://instagram.com/p/CLM5WJcJIHG

Now this is more like it. Sure, it's a double-tease — first, the art is shown at an angle so we can't see it clearly; second, we can't have more songs until the previous one reaches 10k views?! can that be right? — but also it's promising of both new art and music, so that cancels things out nicely. 

If you zoom your browser in to 200% (haha) you can see a lot of the words in the piece:

  • colossal
  • vastly
  • bigly (and this is one of the smallest words!)
  • extra
  • super 
  • special
  • plus
  • brave
  • grand
  • new
  • bold
  • unusually
  • awesomely
  • limitless
  • sensational
  • shocking
  • boost

I'm getting an uplifting, encouraging vibe, so I'm sure any of the incorrect and/or missing words are similarly great :-) Now the mention of something 8 times as big could mean this piece is a scaled version of the full thing in a much larger format, or it's an extract from something larger. Or it's not part of the larger piece at all, I guess. Yet more mystery, oh how my brain likes to be occupied with this stuff, especially when I know the answers are forthcoming.

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flower

I believe 2 / Small joys 6

Time for a topic mashup. Also I am using LJ's new entry publisher, and I have no idea how it works. Let's go. 

~ Check out the new IGTV track 'Time is on your side' posted last week here. I like the lyric animation effect on the video, I feel like it has its own message to layer on top of the song message, although that could be fanciful thinking. Layered meanings, multiple interpretations and alternate perspectives are all common in Magne's music. Need more time with the lyrics before deciding if I want to write more about the song, but I like the sound of it and how it fits with the other two songs he's posted recently. 

~ The video for 'God is in the details' reminds me of my family's first dog — a brown and cream husky with endless energy who loved to play in the snow :-) She'd lead us on wild chases around the neighborhood and joyfully jump into piles of leaves that we had spent hours raking for her amusement and attempt to hide under my bed when it stormed (despite the piles of toys and other junk) and watch Orioles games on TV with my father and sister on long summer evenings. Random thought: Magne is 10 years older than me and he has more energy to play with this wonderful puppy/dog than I could probably muster these days ;-) I'm inspired by watching that snowy play session to find more playfulness in life myself, it would add greatly to my ever growing list of small joys for sure. 

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sweater

whatever it takes to be free

I set aside time tonight to write about 'I'm In'. Knowing time is short, knowing I have too much to say and not enough time to craft the words in a way I'd be satisfied with. I thought maybe if I gave myself a deadline, I'd get it on paper. You'll see how that went!

I listened to the song twice. As I normally do. Twice, ok, three times. As many times as I needed to.
Wrote up the lyrics, with question marks in a couple of places ('whatever you want or mean' or 'whatever you want or need'? or something else?).
Sat in the quiet for a minute. Went over to Twitter because I can't stop doomscrolling these days.
Ok the doom is mixed with hope, because soon the Trump presidency will be over, but in truth that won't be the end of the work our country and the world needs to do, there is so much more to do. But I am hopeful that the right people will be empowered to lead and to help bring about the change we need, over time.
As I scrolled my feed, I saw a post from Playbill sharing a new Spotify playlist, 'Broadway Lullabies', with "Let some of the theatre's gentlest tunes lull you off to dreamland tonight." Following 'I'm In', this seemed like just the thing I needed. I immediately opened up and scanned the song list, which is absolutely wonderful.
Just played 'Not while I'm around' and almost burst into tears. Don't we all need that kind of devotion and that feeling of being protected? Especially now?
Next I skipped to 'Dear Theodosia' to round out a heartbreaking, yet uplifting, trilogy. I need a 20 minute hug now.

The truth is I have too much to say about 'I'm In' to do it justice quickly. I need more time with it, with every word and every note. I guess I can quickly say what I said before: my heart needed this song, especially now. I wish everyone could have this song, and it makes me sad that the audience for it is so limited when so many people are in pain, suffering, alone.

What a gift of beauty and honesty.

No doubt I will write about the Oslo concert and the IGTV tracks in more depth soon. You know how blogs won't let me go until I get them written.
I had thought we'd have more songs from Magne around this time, based on his posts, but maybe he changed his mind or is deciding what to share next. When you have a lot to say, sometimes it takes time. I know all about that, and I'm happy to wait - on both him and myself ;-)

Oh and happy new year x  
subway

web site stuff

The other day I received a notification to update my SSL certificates, and this got me thinking: should I keep paying for domains and hosting and SSL on sites I have not been building and maintaining as I once had? Should I let go of my various web site ambitions and accept that I'll never reach the goals I had for myself?

And then I checked the site metrics for each domain, and found that there is still an audience at least for my archive site, despite the lack of updates. So I renewed my SSL certificate for another year, and we'll see how I feel when that year is up. In the meantime, no one likes to waste money, and paying for this service gave me the motivation to look into things.

Turns out the theme I bought back in 2012 or 2013 hasn't been updated by the developers since 2015, so that had to go, for real this time (if you recall, I experimented with a different theme earlier this year and then reverted to the orange and blue one). It took me a while to find a simple theme that wouldn't require me to resize the image thumbnails, but I am happy with the one I ended up with. I moved a couple of the top menu links to the footer, and then began updating the main pages.

I've updated the Blogs and Interview pages, removing links to MySpace and a-ha.com, respectively, since they are all broken. I added a bunch more interviews - it was fun reading some of them after all this time. I haven't had a chance to check all the media links and to remove the broken ones, but I'll get to that soon.

Some of the posts have an issue with not displaying the embedded videos correctly, so the theme definitely isn't perfect, and I'll have to go back through and validate the content. And then finally I can add WXL - the album page, the lyrics pages, the videos, etc.

For the first time since 2010 I have a lot of leave saved up, so I am taking next week off for Thanksgiving, and the last two weeks of the year. I can't wait. I have a lot to do around the house, but that will get old fast (haha), and since we're in a pandemic and being urged to stay home, no doubt I'll get to some web stuff while on holiday.

Not an exciting update, but having done some work, I felt the need to toot my own horn ;-) Hope you're all safe and healthy out there. More soon.

p.s. Magne, I want my xmas baubles, come onnnnnnnnn!

p.p.s. No solo shows in Oslo in December makes me sad. Wouldn't it be great if Santa Magne gifted us with the recording from last year? I'll send my letter to the North Pole, and if enough of us do it, maybe our wishes will come true ;-)
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.