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22 February 2019 @ 02:52 pm
This post is about Spotify, so if you don't have an account there, just disregard :-)

Every year Spotify creates a personal annual Top Songs playlist for members, which shows up in your account sometime in December. I didn't save my 2017 playlist, which I am bummed about because looking back I realize it's kind of an interesting musical time capsule from a year of listening. I did save my 2018 playlist and made it public - you can find it here.

One thing I learned from my 2018 playlist is that I have become pretty lazy about finding new music. So many of the songs on there were not released in 2018, and had been on one of my two main private playlists for some time. My habit has been to keep the same playlists going and just add a new song here and there, when the mood strikes me. But here I am paying for a premium account, where I can listen to thousands of artists from around the world - teenage me would have *loved* this, and devoted a ton of time to exploring diverse music - and I am listening to the same relatively few artists and songs over and over.

I was surprised to find that there are only three a-ha songs on my 2018 playlist, until I realized that I usually listen to a-ha on Apple Music because I have their entire catalog there. Same with Magne's music, and Martin Halla's album (three of my favorite albums, 'PPFT', 'Musikk fra filmen Beatles' and 'Winter Days' are not available in the US, sigh). And now that I have a new car that doesn't have a CD player, I stream all my music when I'm driving, which means mostly Spotify. So there is a lot of music I love that I don't listen to as often as I'd like to, and is not on my 2018 playlist.

However! There are some awesome outliers in my 2018 playlist, songs that I re/discovered in various ways; it's also super fun to have songs I played to death in early 2018 show up here after some months out of rotation - like old friends :-) 

As 2019 goes on, I plan to spend more time exploring music on Spotify (I think I may have to become a Deathcab for Cutie fan), diversify what I listen to (I was gratified when Spotify produced a Daily Playlist with almost entirely 70s/80s R&B for me recently), find great songs from the past ('Lean on Me' by Club Nuveau is a new old favorite, as well as 'Power of Two' by Indigo Girls), and basically make my Top Songs 2019 playlist KICK ASS when it shows up in December. I don't want a bunch of songs I've played to death for years on there, I want it to be full of interesting stuff.

Also I'm happy that depending on when 'White Xmas Lies' drops, my 2019 playlist will include new Magne F tracks :-)

If you want to join me in my musical explorations, my first suggestion would be to use the personalized Spotify 'Tastebreakers' playlist to help you find new music. I found Sondre Justad that way, and a Birds of Tokyo song I would never have found otherwise, and so much more. Spotify has a hive brain that can predict what kind of music you might like, and the more you listen, the smarter it gets about this.

Here is the on topic part of this post (wake up! lol):

When you play the music you like, and respond to the Spotify suggested songs for you, you are helping Spotify to build associations in their database for song styles, lyrics keywords, genre classifications, and all kinds of other things - and when Magne's album is released and you listen to that to death (like I will), Spotify will know how to connect other listeners to Magne's music via all these database markers. People who have no idea who he is will log in and find his tracks in their 'Tastebreakers' playlist, hopefully give them a listen, and move on to discover more of his music.

So yes, you can help Magne's future album success by listening to a ton of music all year - what's not to like about that? Win/win :-)

Two more tips:

- Search for Magne's profile on Spotify, and follow him. The more people who search for and follow him, the more his music will be suggested to other people who like artsists similar to the artists you also like. Right now, Magne has 577 followers, and that is total bullshit - sorry, but there are so many more of us out there! Follow. Now.

- Create your own public playlists and include your favorite tracks. The more playlists your favorite artists appear on, the more their music is suggested to others. Also the artists can see what playlists their songs are on, and I can promise you that they appreciate this :-) a-ha's music is on over 2 million user playlists. That is impressive. Let's do what we can to get Magne's music on more user playlists.

P.S. I just created my own 'Dark Music Playlist' in honor of the upcoming dark xmas album. I have no idea what Magne's dark music will sound like, but I do like the concept of 'dark music', so this will include tracks that fit my impression of what that means. You can find it here. 'Pit Viper' is the first song that came to mind when I saw the term 'dark music' - great old tune. I'll add to this over time.
 
 
07 January 2019 @ 12:57 pm
As we wait for news about Magne's new solo album, here are a couple of Instagram posts to catch you up on, in case you missed them. Click the image to go to the source post.

Edited to put the images behind this link, because they are larger than I expected (but I don't want to reduce them because they're awesome :-)) -->Pictures back hereCollapse )



On a side note, I just went through the process of changing my web hosting plan for the first time in 10 years - I remember setting it all up while watching President Obama's first inauguration - and made the decision not to continue building my Magne F Archive site in its current version. It will be moved to a new, faster server pretty soon, and I'm looking into some interesting new themes and post options on Wordpress to change it up. With the new solo album on the horizon, I want something that lives and breathes a little more ;-) Stay tuned.

EDIT - JANUARY 21:

Magne has just posted an awesome clip on Instagram, announcing his new album 'WHITE XMAS LIES' coming out in December 2019:

https://www.instagram.com/p/Bs51H_cnc_w/

Let the countdown begin! Also this is cool to read: "15+ original songs so far" (!!).

Interesting that it's 11 years almost to the day since the ADOBITBOYB album cover painting and digital album release, but probably just a coincidence ;-)
 
 
28 December 2018 @ 03:37 pm
Coming back to this topic at long last. See my previous post of July 25 for context!

"I wish you'd stay / I wish you'd stay"

Why does this line mean so much to me? It's a simple statement/request, doesn't seem too deep. And yet I - as I often do - read so much into it.

First of all, to wish for something seems to imply it's a far-off thing, something not likely to happen, or something that rarely happens. Wishes are often hopes, dreams or ideas that come straight from the heart; a wish is something you feel deeply about and something you value. Wishes take flight in your imagination, they can carry you along, and they can help you see what is possible. You don't wish for something you're ambivalent about, you don't wish for something that you don't think would make you happier in some way, you don't wish for more contact with someone you don't care about - you wish for something or someone that has an importance or deeper meaning for you. In short, this is not a random passing fancy, it's an appeal for something solid and lasting.

To tell someone you wish they would do something - rather than saying you want them to do it or asking them directly to do it - also seems to be a supplication of sorts, an acknowledgement to another person that the ball is in their court, or that they have control over the situation. This isn't a mutual decision to part, the subject clearly wants to maintain the contact, but doesn't know if the object does. It can be scary to expose your uncertainty and give another person the knowledge of their 'power' (sounds like a stronger word than I intend, but I can't think of a better one just now) over your happiness in this way, which to me makes this line brave, beautiful and even hopeful.

Secondly, wanting someone to stay means that you have found a connection with them, and you want to maintain that connection. The connection itself is what's interesting to me, because it takes mutual effort and interest in order for a real connection to move through the stages of acquaintance and friendship that build in closeness towards a real and lasting bond of some kind.

I also find it interesting that in asking her to stay, he doesn't address the cause of that hesitation; he doesn't assume anything or try to convince her that her reasons are invalid or give her justifications, etc. This is so common in real life, that when met with opposition to their wishes, people try to convince others by breaking down their objections, sometimes in forceful or belittling ways. For example, one time when I was at an afterparty in Norway, a man I know invited me back to his place. When I said no, I made the mistake of softening it (since I know him) with a reason - and then he came up with an excuse, which I had to find a way to decline without offending him, and it took him about four attempts to finally accept my answer. (And I'll just say that in my experience, telling Norwegian men you are married has almost no effect LOL) That kind of thing is frustrating (and a bit scary, if I am honest) on several levels, and it demonstrates an entirely selfish interest. However here in the song, there is none of that game playing or negotiation when the subject is presented with a romantic situation he isn't in control of. I can think of quite a few songs which seem to be entirely about breaking down a woman's objections, and they're all aging poorly (see 'Me Too'). 

Altogether this line seems to be about the experience of realizing the person you feel a connection with is about to walk away from you, and you desperately want them to stay in that space and time with you, but you're not confident that they feel the same way. It's not (entirely) about seduction, it's about maintaining a real connection. It's a direct and raw appeal for closeness, without any ego, pretension, calculation, selfishness or any of the other complicated behavior that often gets in the way when people are getting to know one another. I love the honesty and courage behind this line.

~~~~~~~~

As you know, I quickly wrote the post on July 25 as I was preparing to leave for a weekend in Copenhagen to see a-ha. I was intrigued by this idea I'd seen on other blogs of writing about two favorite lines from a song and what makes them so important to me. This post is about just the first of those two lines, and I will probably write separately about the second one sometime when inspiration strikes.

Strangely enough, this writing exercise turned out to be instrumental in learning something important about myself. Although I had 'enough' reason to love the song and this line in particular, I had the strong feeling that there must be more to it somehow, so I just let it sit with me for a while. I've been too busy to write over the past couple of months, so I didn't press myself, and eventually some connections came together in a surprising way. The reason I am telling this next story is that you can always learn more about yourself, and I think that it can be important for your self-understanding if you try to look deeper for meaning when your heart tells you to. Anyway, maybe this exercise could be helpful to you in some way, as well.

~~~~~~~~

A couple of years ago, I met up with an old friend who was passing through town that I hadn't seen in more than 15 years. We had a good long chat about so many things; we grew up together, so there was a lot of family news to share and many great memories we rehashed together. We talked about the games we played as children, together with her two brothers and my two brothers and sister. Seemingly out of nowhere, my friend asked me seriously how my relationship with my sister is, all these years later.

The question took me by surprise - I mean she's my sister, we are close, we've always been close. My friend considered my answer and said doubtfully, "The way she treated you back then, I can't believe you're close now. I always thought you'd avoid her as soon as you were out of the house and able to choose who you wanted to spend time with." Sometimes people close to us can see things we can't see. Or don't want to see. That night, my friend told me something I had never understood about my own history. "She bullied you. You admired her so much and wanted to do everything with her, and she hurtfully excluded you every chance she got. Some of the things she did back then would be considered abusive today." She reminded me of a couple of specific situations that with the benefit of hindsight, I could suddenly see in a more accurate light.

The truth of it hit me hard. Back in the late 70s, we didn't have the social understanding about bullying that we do today. Bullies were bigger kids who threatened to beat you up if you didn't give them your lunch money or let them cheat with your test answers or whatever. Family members couldn't bully each other. Back then people just said about us, 'they're siblings, siblings fight', even though the ‘fight’ was always one-sided. No one would have identified her treatment of me as abusive or something that a parent should take steps to stop, something that could have a lasting emotional or psychological effect on me. Kids will be kids, they love each other, they'll grow out of it, etc. - and point to the good times (there were good times) and my unwavering admiration for her and say, see, nothing wrong here.

Initially I struggled with the idea that I had been the victim of bullying, when I had never once thought of it that way. I read up on the types of bullying (her tactic was 'exclusion' mostly, although she did physically threaten me until I grew taller than her) so I could better understand what happened, confirm for myself if my friend’s assessment was an accurate view of it all, and most importantly try to identify what kind of impact all this may have had on me.

I am still kind of working through this as things come up, but knowing the cause of some of my bigger insecurities and fears likely stem from my sister's early treatment of me has actually been sort of liberating. I now understand the reason why I sometimes am anxious about whether I am welcome at a social event or whether people I like or admire want to spend time with me. If I don't feel confident about this, I usually default to assuming I am not welcome without some obvious sign or express invitation. Recognizing this now as a self-protecting response because of past harm, I try to be conscious when this is happening and not allow myself to miss out on being with people I care about and want to spend time with. Or if I can't overcome my worry, I allow myself the space to back away and don't judge myself as harshly as I used to.

~~~~~~~~

Fast forward back to this summer, when I was considering this line from 'Illuminate the Sky', and why it means so much to me. It's so clear now, isn't it? 'I wish you'd stay' is probably one of the best, most kind things someone could say to me. It always makes me happy when someone lets me know they want to talk longer, to spend more time together. I am always very grateful when someone makes the effort to welcome me, to make me feel included, to explain what's happening, or to somehow keep me from finding some random excuse to walk away because of an anxiety that up until recently I never really understood.

To bring this back to more on topic, I've written about these things happening in the a-ha world over the years; maybe you remember the wonderful young couple who let me hang around with them for hours during the Moods of Norway fashion show in Oslo in August 2010? Or the guy who quietly explained some of the acts and Norwegian introductions in the program during the opening night at Fosnavag konserthus? Or the woman who shared stories with me about her home in Giske? Or the time Amanda, who has become one of my dearest friends, introduced herself to me before the concert at Ullevaal in 2001? :-) I will always treasure these kindnesses.

Conversely, there have been times when I have missed out on being with people during a-ha trips because I was anxious about being unwelcome. There was the time after the iTunes festival show in 2009 when some friends were going out for drinks, and I got up the nerve to call out to them as they walked by me, but they didn't say I could come with them, so I stayed where I was. The next day one of the girls texted me, "Why didn't you follow us?" and I felt really stupid for not knowing I was welcome to go along, and missing out on spending more time with them. There was the time my friend was planning a party after one of Morten's shows in 2014 and I really wanted to be invited, but didn't have the confidence to ask if I could go. Another friend later asked me why I was so worried about asking to be included, "The worst thing she could have said was 'no'." I understand that to be objectively true, people say this to me all the time when I am doubtful, but when someone you love - and who loves you - has hurtfully excluded you many times, a 'no' from someone you admire carries with it much more pain than you'd think, even if you know they don't intend it.

There was even one time when Magne gently chided me for not taking the chance to meet Hugo Opdal when I went out to Flo before the opening concert at Fosnavag. We were talking after the show, and I had mentioned that I went out in hopes to see the gallery that day, but it was closed. He asked me, "Did you meet Hugo?" and I said I'd seen him through the window but he looked busy and I didn't want to disturb him by knocking on a day when the gallery was closed. Magne simply said with a smile, "You should always knock." Mind you, he is someone who is probably welcome everywhere he goes, but still I think it's good advice that I will do my best to take seriously, especially now that I have a better idea what has been keeping me from knocking (so to speak).

Anyway, by thinking purposefully about some lyrics that I love, I somehow - with time and introspection - discovered an important truth about myself. In this way I think art is so very powerful, and so essential in my life. There are some dots I would never have connected over the years if it hadn't been for certain songs and poems and music.

~~~~~~~~

Long story short, I can definitely relate to the woman in this song. It's not clear why she is shying away, why he needs to implore her to stay. There is obviously a connection there, so what could be making her leave?

I find it interesting for example that he says 'I'll hold you like a child'. This is so kind and gentle, and we can only infer that he's saying that because he knows that's what she needs, that she is sensitive and/or hurting, or that she needs to feel cared for. I don't want to go too far into this topic, though, because it touches on what I want to say about the second line. But anyway, she is hesitant and needs reassurance, and it starts with him wishing for a chance, wishing for her to overcome whatever is drawing her away.

The heart holds infinite possibility, which is amazing; but if the heart has been trained to consider rejection or a bait-and-switch as the most likely outcome, it will probably take steps to protect itself over time. Even the draw of the most wonderful connection could be insufficient to hold someone in place and time, when they have trouble knowing if they can trust it, or they have learned to expect disappointment. 

What I shared here is only one possibility for her motivation, there could be so many others.

~~~~~~~~

I want to close by saying that when you know people online over months and years, you can feel very close to them, and then meet them and feel like strangers. Despite the good will, loyalty, kind thoughts and friendship you've built up for each other (and hopefully expressed to each other in some way), and the funny/serious/interesting/personal discussions you've had via e-mail, SMS or online chat, and the special feeling of being close to someone even though they are far away, you can still see each other in person and feel anxious and uncertain. I don't know if that's just me, and caused by my own backstory, or if many other people experience this, too. But if you and I are friends online, and I have met you in person and not seemed as 'connected' with you as you expected, chances are I felt the same way and I am sorry if I caused that. I am not one of those people who is one way online and another way in person, I may not show it all the time or in the best way, but if we are friends online know that I want to be that way in person, too :-)
 
 
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.