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08 October 2018 @ 04:43 pm
Haven't done this in a while, but felt the need to share some MF related things that made me happy lately:

~ You may have heard this already if you follow Martin A on Instagram:



'The River' was written by KT Tunstall and Martin Terefe, and previously recorded/released by Martin Halla on his 2013 album 'Winter Days'. I've had to give this version some time to grow, only because I've had five years with Martin's version, but it's definitely happening.

~ Looks like the Apparatjik performance was a success in Szczecin, Poland a couple of weeks ago. There are some great pictures here. Also not sure if this link will work, but if it does, you will surely enjoy this video from before the event.

~ The prospect of more a-ha concerts is pretty awesome too! No real details yet, just a teaser for now here

~ Even better prospect, in my very biased opinion? New music from Magne on the horizon somewhere! Yes, we're all used to waiting, but it's nice to know the wait will be over soonish :-)

~ Here is a short video from Magne's 'Icon' exhibition opening yesterday in Oslo.

~ I heard the song 'You Say' by Lauren Daigle on the radio the other day and thought it thematically would be the perfect companion to 'More Than Good Enough':



I didn't realize at first that it's a religious song, but still the emotions behind it pair well with the intent of MTGE:

"I keep fighting voices in my mind that say I’m not enough
Every single lie that tells me I will never measure up"

The reassurance and kindness in MTGE are a response to exactly these emotions.

"The only thing that matters now is everything You think of me"

Sometimes all you need is to have that one person who has faith in you, who knows what you are capable of, understands what is holding you back and builds you up so you can face anything. Anyway I think these two songs present an interesting pairing of themes.

~ There is an interesting thread on Twitter about joy, written by the inspiring Rabbi Danya Ruttenberg. She says that people are often uncomfortable with feelings of joy. "Feeling happy makes us vulnerable in a way that feeling terrible doesn’t." We need to protect joy, we fear the loss of it. People know what to do with anger and sadness and frustration, we are conditioned to expect those feelings and even sometimes encouraged to amplify them; often we share our challenges with others more than we share joys. She says that joy is "hard and threatening for many of us", and continues to say that joy is the unknown, it requires us to be present in the moment and accepting it. For me this is a key post in the thread.

In short, we have a choice in how we respond to moments of joy. We can choose to embrace them, hold them close to us or reflect them outwards to others.

I would expand on this thread in a different direction and say that not only should we embrace our own joys, but we should be especially kind and gentle with other people's joys, simply because they are closest to their hearts. You can tell a lot about a relationship by the way each one treats the other person's joys - do they handle them with care, strive to protect them, look for ways to activate them, or do they ignore or minimize or even actively prevent them?

So many people tend to break down what brings other people joy and happiness, they take satisfaction in tempering people's dearest hopes with 'realism' and 'practicality', and even seem to actively begrudge the simplest pleasures of others. I can't tell you the number of times I have tried to share something that made me happy with someone, only to have them belittle it or question it or try to make me feel frivolous or strange for finding joy in that (to them) inconsequential thing. The result is that I keep those things to myself in order to protect them. Why do people do this to one another?

...and how is this connected to this blog? :-)

As a "fan" there are many things that bring me joy in this context that a lot of people don't understand. They don't get why I'd travel across the world for a concert, or why certain lyrics always make my heart skip with happiness, or how I get a little thrill every time I download a new song from my favorite band. Most of the time I don't talk about this stuff, because I don't want people to question and look doubtful and even scorn something that makes me happy, so that's why this blog is important to me - it's a place I can share these things and know that you (whoever you are :-)) probably understand and maybe feel the same way about some of these things.

Long story short, inspired by the Rabbi and other things recently, I've decided to more actively embrace life's joys and to share more of them with people in the hope that they will feel some joy as well :-) I am also trying to be more in tune with other people's joys, listen and learn from them, and make sure friends know they are safe sharing with me.

~ I've said before that I long for a 'happy' song from Magne, and I've also said that he somehow has a way of writing what my heart needs to hear, so my hope for his next album is that there is joy in it. It would not be obvious, that's not his style, but I hope he will somehow render in song those 'glowing moments' he spoke about last year.
 
 
19 August 2018 @ 04:11 pm
Sorry for the long silence here, it has been a crazy busy month with my long-awaited family vacation to London and preparations for my son to go away to college, plus a merger at work and the a-ha tour - but honestly busy is good, because once the tour is over and my son is away at school, it will be so quiet I'll be wishing for these times again :-) Maybe in two weeks I'll be here blogging every day LOL.

It's hard to put into words how wonderful my trip to Copenhagen was, but I'll try. I went over there with little notice and did very little research about the city or what would be happening while I was there, apart from asking a couple of local friends for recommendations via Facebook messenger. I was open to anything.

It was the first time I went on a trip for a concert without my husband driving me to the airport - he had a work thing he couldn't get out of - and my neighbor dropped me off. This may sound strange, but because of this I started off feeling 100% excited instead of carrying a lingering feeling of guilt for going on an adventure and leaving family behind. It helped that the trip was paid for from a bonus I worked hard to earn, and not our normal family budget.

It was also the first time I went on a concert trip with only a backpack - I usually over-pack for even short trips, so this was a pretty big accomplishment ;-) Having only the essentials helped make the trip overall so stress-free, I wish all trips could be like this one was. On the first day, I arrived at the hotel around 2pm, and had a good Italian meal in the lobby restaurant while waiting for my room to be ready. It was sweltering in Europe at the time, and most (if not all?) buildings don't have air conditioning, so it was a little uncomfortable in that regard, but I was lucky enough to score the hotel's last fan for our room. After a quick shower and e-mail check, I went out into the city to meet Heidi, the friend who took me sightseeing during my visit in 2013.

Heidi is a great tour guide, she showed me places most tourists don't go, and anticipated all my questions. She obviously loves Copenhagen and enjoys sharing stories about her city. We did a lot of walking, and between that and the jet lag, I am embarrassed to admit that I nodded off a bit on the water taxi ride ;-) She was quietly amused but understood completely.

We also went to Tivoli Gardens, where she is an annual pass holder, and had a wonderful amble around the amusement park. She treated me to cake and champagne, as well - remembering as I had not that when we last met I had paid for lunch. That was so kind of her, and it was a wonderful treat to sit in the shade on that hot day and drink cold champagne with a friend.

I was surprised to learn that Tivoli is 175 years old - the attractions are an interesting mix of old and new thrill rides, and the atmosphere that day was relaxed and calm - very unlike amusement parks like Six Flags or Disney or any of the others I had been to before. There are tree lined pathways and restaurants of various styles scattered around, and it was pleasantly crowded with people lounging in deck chairs on well-maintained lawns, or having picnics in the sun, or enjoying various performances throughout the park. I couldn't believe how clean it was, Heidi explained that it's part of the culture there to maintain a good environment for everyone, and to recycle whenever possible. Not only this, but despite the prolific availability of alcohol, I never saw anyone acting drunk or obnoxious, not even during the concert. More on that later.

Around 8pm I headed back to the hotel and called home, then waited for Amanda to arrive. She got in after 10:30pm, so I was really tired by that time, but super happy to be reuinted with my partner in crime. We talk often on Skype, so it was like picking up an ongoing conversation :-) Earlier that day I had managed to get in touch with someone who had inner circle tickets they couldn't use, who was kind enough to send me their tickets for free, so we were excited about the prospect of being able to get closer to the stage than we otherwise could have.

The next morning we did some sightseeing, and visited a jewelry shop I have followed on Instagram for a few years now (Handcrafted CPH). It was really difficult to decide what to buy there, I had seen so many of Anders' original designs online and I liked so many of the necklaces, rings and earrings. I finally chose two small things for myself and two gifts, and Amanda bought a ring. On the way back from the store, we found an awesome vinyl shop and browsed there for a while. By this time, Amanda was already planning to bring her husband to Copenhagen during the Christmas holidays.

In the afternoon, we decided to have dinner at the Vapiano's adjacent to Tivoli. We had a table outside and did some people watching while enjoying a long, relaxing chat. Then we went into the park and had a pleasant wander around, keeping an eye on the inner circle area so we would know when to go in and choose a spot for the show.

One of the reasons I was hesitant to go to a summer show was because festivals and stadium shows are notorious for being full of drunk people who are there to socialize and not for the music; besides that, I don't like to travel thousands of miles only to be stuck 100 metres from the stage with a terrible view, however I also hate queueing all day and having to stake out a spot in the front for hours before a show starts. Physically this is normally just too much for me, but as I mentioned before, having recently found a treatment for a chronic condition, I took a huge chance that this time an outdoor festival show would not only be bearable but fun - and the show at Tivoli didn't disappoint.

We went into the inner circle around 8pm and the show didn't start until 10pm. We sat for a bit on the concrete in front of the stage, and it was pretty chill until around 9pm, when more people started to come in. We had to stand at that point, but I was still feeling ok and not stressed at all - and the people around us were friendly and good about letting people come and go to the bar or to the toilet, saving places for people and basically just ready to have a good time together. The atmosphere was awesome, much better than I could ever have expected.

The show itself was amazing. Maybe it was the incredible atmosphere, maybe it was the band anticipating the prospect of a two week break afterwards, maybe it was the lunar eclipse/blood moon, who knows - but for whatever reason, the guys were having a great time, and we were, too. We were stood in front of Magne, which was perfect :-) I love watching him concentrate and groove with the music and engage the crowd and enjoy himself on stage. Highlights of the set were 'Train of Thought', 'Weight of the Wind', 'Lifelines', 'Scoundrel Days' and of course 'Take On Me' - and the fabulous crowd sing along during 'The Living Daylights', which years ago I used to be impatient with, but now I thoroughly enjoy due to Magne's energy in directing the crowd to sing their loudest. I can't seem to find a video from close up at this show, but this one is pretty good:



(the sing-along starts at 4:40 ish)

Another cool highlight happened during the break before the encore. The crowd was waiting eagerly for the band to return to the stage, and then unexpectedly Magne ran out to his microphone, gestured that it wasn't part of the encore return of the band - and told us all to look behind us because the eclipse was going on back there...! We knew it was going to happen that night, of course, but we were facing the stage and those of us in front at least never noticed that the moon was already more than half obscured and an interesting shade of orange/red. I can't remember what words he actually used, but he said something along the lines of he wanted to point this out to us because it had been going on throughout the show and it was 'not a normal thing you see' :-))) He then ran back off stage, and the band returned for the encore after we'd had a chance to appreciate the lunar situation above us ;-)

It was honestly one of the best concert experiences I've had in a long, long time. I am so glad I took the chance to go and that Amanda was able to join me. After the show, we had dessert and wine, and went back to the hotel tired and happy. On Saturday, we rode on the hop on - hop off bus to spare our feet, visited the SMK museum, did some shopping, and then spent another six hours in Tivoli. The sun was shining, we had deck chairs in the shade, large beers to drink, and even Facetimed with Amanda's husband for a bit. We were both happy to have another relaxing afternoon and evening in the park, rather than trying to get more big tourist sights in.

My flight home was very early on Sunday, I had to leave the hotel around 4:15am, but it was worth it. I was home by dinner, and back at work the next day. Less than two weeks later, my family went to London for a week, where Amanda and her husband met us. I met Amanda because of a-ha, I have been fortunate enough to travel to London a bunch of times because of the band, and I feel so much gratitude for all the great friendships and experiences I have had since I first took a chance to go to Norway and see a-ha in 2001.

Now my travels this year are over, but I am grateful I have so much to look back on to sustain me until the next time :-)

Edited to add this clip I just discovered:



Super. Adorable. That is all!
 
 
25 July 2018 @ 12:50 pm
I'm leaving this afternoon on my latest adventure, and I really wanted to post this blog that has been nagging my brain for a while before I head out. This means that I'm putting this together in more of a rush than usual, so I'll probably come back and edit it later. There is so much I want to say that it may come out a bit disorganized in the first version ;-)

Also I can't help but say again how excited I am about this weekend. It could be because this is the first time in a very long time that I booked a trip with less than two weeks' notice - no overthinking, no big expectations, no stressing about organizing a party for months in advance or having to plan a schedule of any kind - or it could be because I didn't know if the shows in February would be the last a-ha shows for me for years, since there are no known plans for the guys to release another album or tour again, and now I am getting one more unexpected chance to see the guys before a possibly long silence from them.

It could be because I am finally returning to Copenhagen, where I saw Apparatjik five years ago, but didn't stay long enough to see much of the city - but since then I have been following a lot of CPH based accounts on Instagram and have fallen in love with the city from afar. One big factor I know for sure is that this spring I finally found an effective treatment for a chronic condition that I have struggled with for at least ten years; I remember being in pain as far back as the Oslo shows in 2009, and ever since then all my trips have been physically very difficult for me. But ever since April/May I have felt better than I've felt in years, and it has absolutely changed my focus and my energy and even my outlook (which has always been positive) has improved. Maybe this is how Magne felt when he had that successful treatment for his heart back in 2012 - a new lease on life. I can't wait to travel without this hanging over me for once, and just enjoy everything as it comes.

Anyway, the inspiration for this post comes from a music blog I read recently, which was a challenge to take two lines from a song and explain why they are significant to you. Here are my two favorite lines from 'Illuminate the Sky':

"I wish you'd stay, I wish you'd stay
So we could enjoy each other's space"

Yes, the song was co-written by a few people, and apparently Lowell was the primary songwriter on this one, but Magne produced it, so it's fair game and on topic :-) Also I have some reasons for thinking certain parts of the song lyrics were strongly influenced by Magne, if he didn't write them himself.

~~~~~~~

"I told him we should take our relationship to the next level," my friend told me during one of our weekly phone calls. "We know where this is going, but it's just taking too long!"

She was telling me about a coworker she had feelings for, who was divorced like her, and seemingly ready to start dating again. He showed all the signs of being interested in her, but wouldn't take that one step that would change them from coworker-friends to more-than-friends - whatever that would look like for them, if they ever got there. Let's skip over the part about how at first she waited for him to do something, instead of making the first move herself - after all, it is a cultural thing here in America, and that will take time to change. Anyway, I couldn't believe she was so blunt and so confident, I mean who says stuff like that, male or female? ;-)

She told me it was almost painful how they would see each other between meetings or in the hallway, talk for about nine seconds and then have to move on - when they both clearly wanted to continue the contact and connection. The heart flutters were there, the quick blushes, the talking a little too fast to try to maintan connection in moments that were not ideal for making a connection, the fear of making eye contact for too long because it would be clear to everyone how they both felt - being in contact without doing anything about their feelings was torture on them both. So eventually she made the statement above, one day in the office hallway, and after a brief awkward moment, they were both laughing and planning their first date. They later got married, and he still says it's all because she took that scary but essential first step.

There are so many songs about taking that first step, and about the anxious relationship space in between not-together and together. I think there are a few things about this song that makes it special, and the two lines above kind of capture them all.

First, I love how simple and direct and pure these lines are: Stay. Connect with me. No fancy wordplay or flirting or double meaning; no ego or arrogance; just heartfelt and honest and vulnerable. Also there are no demands or conditions or expectations. It's open ended, it's looking forward, and the only thing it promises is mutual contentment.

Second, the idea of 'enjoying each other's space' has always intrigued me about this song. While it's easy to consider this a sexual proposition, because so many 'let's get together' songs focus on sex as an obvious motivator (and of course sex sells), I think it's much more than that. The physical attraction is clear in other parts of the song ('Your body's the queen, my dear' etc.), but here I think it's more about sharing space companionably and all that includes - and yes, of course sex is part of that. But when you think about the days, months, years couples spend together, the vast majority of time they spend is outside the bedroom, in ordinary situations. Early attraction fades, sex lives change, real intimacy takes on many forms, and it all comes back to enjoying each other's space.

People share space all the time: on the bus, in an elevator, walking past each other on the sidewalk or in a mall, sleeping next to your partner, we are contantly sharing space with other people. And we don't get a choice about a lot of space sharing we do, it's part of life and being human. That doesn't mean we enjoy sharing space, or enjoy each other's space - which are two different things, in my mind - so I think what this song is describing is something very special.

I have so much more to say about this second line, including some thoughts about the metoo* movement and how this song stands up to it in all the right ways, whereas many, many songs haven't. I also want to reference some of Magne's poetry and lyrics in relation to space, and how I finally realized in this context what it is that made me so emotional when reading some of the poetry at Fornebuporten a few years back - but I really need to get offline and get ready to go to the airport :-) Hopefully I will have time to come back and edit/expand this entry soon.

(*not hashtagging because I don't want to this to come up in general searches on the topic)
 
 
22 July 2018 @ 02:16 pm
Thanks to an unexpected break in a project at work, and a bonus that came in at the right time, I am going to the show in Copenhagen this Friday :-) My boss practically insisted that I go, and who am I to argue? We are going to be very busy over the coming months at work, and I probably won't have any time off between September and the end of the year. I texted my bestie in England and she and I booked the trip within 30 minutes - we'll be in Copenhagen from Thursday to Sunday. So excited!

This is from last month, be sure to watch this awesome clip from Israel - Morten went into the audience to shake hands and sign autographs and take photos, and Magne worked the crowd during the Living Daylights singalong. All the clips from that show make it look like a truly special night, but this one is the best for sure:



And now this from the show in Fulda:



Also a great picture taken last night - I can't embed it because it's in a slideshow, but you can find it here (hello, beard!).
 
 
02 July 2018 @ 12:39 pm
Check out this wonderful new single from Buika, 'Deadbeat'. It will surely sound both familiar and radically different to you :-)



I am convinced that while Magne somehow writes what my heart needs to hear, Buika could sing what my heart needs to say. I feel like I could whisper to her my hopes and dreams, my struggles and sorrows, my faith and my joys, and her voice could express it all seemingly without effort. And that is saying a lot of her voice, because my heart could say a lot.

In short, she has an extraordinary talent, be sure to listen to this and her other music!

See also: Buika: The Voice of Freedom. It's an older article, but tells a bit about her personal and creative history. Great quote:

"Hope is for people who wait. And I don't want to wait no more. I'm not scared anymore. I'm not scared of myself. Of my things. Of my fear. Of absolutely nothing. And that's music."
 
 
 
21 June 2018 @ 01:16 pm
Back in February, I posted that I wished it was possible to watch the Apparatjik performance at Roskilde again somewhere online. If only I had searched on YouTube more thoroughly before posting that, I would have found THIS AWESOMENESS, which had been uploaded only a few weeks before:



Currently slightly less bummed about missing the show in Tel Aviv today, as I am about to watch a great performance I thought I would never see again :-) Thank you to the music gods for leading me to the clip, and to stefbaz1 for posting it!
 
 
20 June 2018 @ 10:49 am
The guys are in Israel, and there are a ton of social media and news posts about it out there. Here is a clip from their press conference at the Sheraton hotel in Tel Aviv:



When I was in middle school there, one of my classmates lived at the Sheraton because her father was a manager of some sort. She'd have sleepovers and we'd run amok around the hotel, as kids are wont to do; sneaking into the kitchen to get dessert, going up and down the elevators, exploring every meeting room and ball room, talking with guests visiting from around the world, lounging by the pool side. We even had a school dance there once. I can imagine it all perfectly, the drive leading up to the entrance, the view of the beach from the rooms facing west and the city to the east, the massive movie poster on the overpass nearby - Back to the Future, Rambo, The Breakfast Club, A View to a Kill were on rotation in 1985 - is the billboard still there? - probably a lot has been renovated in the hotel, and the city skyline must have changed since that time, but in my mind's eye I can see it all. It makes me happy to think of the guys staying in a hotel where I have such fun memories.

Here is another media clip, an interesting interview with the guys for TV: click here.

Magne has posted on Instagram from the Temple Mount: click here. I really hope to see more of Israel through his eyes, and from the rest of the band, crew and their families.

Last year at this time, I was wandering around Alesund alone, marveling at the beauty of Norway but feeling disconnected at times. I was absolutely lucky to be there, but I didn't feel like a part of anything going on. Today I could be living a childhood dream, to be looking forward to seeing my favorite band perform in Israel; I would have stayed with my old friend Miki and her family, I would have visited my school, I would have gone to my home, where I have so many family memories - I would have seen my father everywhere, and probably cried my eyes out a few times as well - and I would have reconnected with myself at a perfect moment in time.

In short, I am trying to be ok with missing this, but it's not working. Still, I am so happy it is happening and that my childhood dream came true, even if I can't be there.
 
 
15 June 2018 @ 10:17 am
Spotted this live video clip on Twitter and had to share it - "Magne conducting the Living Daylights choir at the a-ha gig in Cork" click here

And there it is, more definitive proof that I've been pining for the most crushworthy member of a-ha all these years ;-) Seriously adorable.

Sadly, 'This Is Our Home' is no longer in the set list, but I am glad at least some receptive people got to hear it live. With so many shows ahead of them still, it's possible the set list will change again, but probably not by more than one song at a time, and probably not often. I think though that people like to know what to expect, and I am not one of the people who think the band owe it to those who see more than one show to change the set list - the majority of people will only see one show, to change what they play on an ongoing basis just to please the few doesn't make sense to me.

By the way, I recently saw a music blog post on another site that was one in a series about favorite lines of lyrics, and it got me thinking about some older songs in new ways. I have at least 2 or 3 blogs about 'Illuminate The Sky' in mind as a result, hopefully I will have time to get them written soon. 
 
 
11 June 2018 @ 08:06 pm
The summer tour is underway, so that means pictures and videos from the road. Here's 'This Is Our Home' from Yeovil - so glad this song is in the summer set list so more people can hear it :-)

 
 
20 May 2018 @ 09:59 am
Today Magne had a live Q&A on Facebook. He spent about an hour answering questions about all kinds of things - and it seems there is so much to look forward to from him in the coming year(s) (he mentioned something in 2021 already, so that's quite a pipeline..!).

I am not generally a patient person, but by now I know that in Magne's world good things can't be rushed - and that they are always worth the wait. Waiting for something you know will make you happy is great; anticipation feeds the imagination and makes you reach forward instead of looking backwards, both of which I absolutely need more of in my life. It's when you don't know something good is on the way that waiting is so difficult ;-)

Too much to summarize here, you can catch up by reading the thread here. You know me enough by now to know which answers made me happy, I hope you find things to make you smile, too :-)

p.s. Wearing blue again!

p.p.s. It took some time, but I am now firmly on Team Beard. I know this is an unpopular team to be on, but I can't help it! When I see the beard, I know he's in 'art mode' and/or just doing his own thing.