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12 September 2017 @ 11:36 am
'Look through that window, it's over there,' the woman in the row in front of me said. She, David and I had been talking and getting to know one another a bit to pass the time before the performance on Friday night began.

'Which one, the one with the black horse outside?' I had noticed the horse grazing in a fenced yard beside a large, white house as our bus made its way down the lane towards the venue in Giske earlier that evening.

'Yes, that's where I live.' Her house was perhaps 100-150 yards from where we sat; out of all the people who were gathered there, some from as far away as Japan and Australia, she had undoubtedly traveled the shortest distance to be a part of this special event. I marveled at how lucky she was. 'I couldn't be so close and not come,' she assured me. I couldn't argue with that!

The conversation had started when she expressed surprise at hearing an American and a Scot talking about the performance the night before. 'You're here from America and Scotland? Why?' It happens all the time when I go to a-ha concerts in Norway, the natives are often surprised to meet fans who travel such a long way to see the band. The irony is that all Norwegians know who a-ha is, and they all have a measure of pride in what they have accomplished in their career, or at least that has been my experience over the years.

So why the surprise when Norwegians hear about fans coming from abroad? It seems like a mix of pride and humility; they can absolutely tell you with confidence how great a-ha is, but then they are genuinely surprised to find out that you know this, too ;-)

I wish I could remember her name, but unfortunately I can't recall it. Anyway, we talked for a while about her family and the island of Giske, and then she told us a story from earlier in the week.

Apparently the documentary producers were scouting locations to film some interviews with the band members near the venue and studio, and they wanted the environment to be comfortable and homey. In the end, it was her mother's living room which was chosen for filming. 'When you watch the interviews, you will know that they are in my mother's house.'

It was such a special moment, I could tell how proud she was of being involved in the production somehow, and it was wonderful of her to share that with us. 'I went around on Monday to see if I could meet the guys, maybe get a photo with them," she told us. Sadly she didn't get to meet them, but still it's no small thing to have national heroes sitting in your mother's living room for all the world to see, after all ;-)

This was one of those glowing moments I mentioned in my post in August, and within seconds of watching the very first live video from the DVD, it was unexpectedly brought back to me - amazing:


As soon as I saw this, I felt a spark of happy recognition, and immediately wanted to share this story with all of you. 'This Is Our Home' already has many associations for me, and this is one of the more powerful ones. I'll never meet this lady again, but we shared a few moments of connection and anticipation and happiness, and now I know I will see her home - and her mother's home - and think of her many times in the future.
08 September 2017 @ 11:26 pm
I'll continue with my 'finding home' thread another time soon, but for now I wanted to hop over here to share these two things you need in your life right away:

~ 'This Is Our Home' is the first single from the upcoming acoustic live album, and if you haven't seen it yet, you can watch the video here.

~ While that link has been shared many times in the community today, here is one link that perhaps might have gone unnoticed by many - a wonderful video of highlights from the Apparatjik show 'Day of the Dead' at Festspillene i Bergen in June 2016 here. So glad to get this more detailed look at the experience.

That's it, two things is all I promised today ;-)
12 August 2017 @ 11:07 pm
You guys, I can't wait to hear/watch the MTV unplugged concert. According to a press release making the rounds, the release date is October 6th.

By the time it comes out, the sharp and rough edges of some of my memories will be smothed a bit by time and distance and perspective; and the glowing, bright, heart-filling moments will be brought back to me - to all those of us who were there - to experience again. I hope the finished product meets the expectations and hopes of those who were there and those who weren't, equally. Not sure how realistic that is, my guess is those of us who were there have built up so many personal impressions and associations that it's possible we may wind up disappointed. I'm trying not to worry too much about that, though. After all, it's completely out of our hands. We have to trust the guys to reflect the real experience we shared with them, and I believe they will :-)

I have so much to say about 'This Is Our Home', but I want to hold off on that until people have a chance to hear it first. But if you're like me, you might have heard the title and thought, 'Magne has written some poems about home..." And maybe you went to go look for them, to bring them back into focus while you wait to hear the song? Maybe there is some connection, a thread or theme you can pick up on when you put the song and his previous writings about home together in October?

When David and I chose our seats on the first night of the recordings, we were in the front row of chairs behind an aisle where a large camera moved back and forth to film the show. We noticed as soon as we sat down that the camera had a set list taped to it, and I felt rather than knew that the first track must be written by Magne.

My mind immediately went back to a poem Magne posted on MySpace in October 2006: 'This is you, this is yours, you are home.' Here is the full poem:

re-open the door
you have been here before
so enter the room
walk up to the window
look out at your life
sit down in that chair
it has always been there
for your thoughts
climb up the stairs
slow, like a dream
do not faint or you fall
walk on down the hall
you know every picture
that hangs on this wall
lie down on the bed
of memories made
and of words that were said
think back to before
this is you, this is yours
you are home

If you are thinking this song will evoke in the listener any of those memories or sentiments (from the time or as above), I can only tell you that it doesn't for me. It seems completely different, although I didn't have the poem in front of me of course, and the lyrics of the song are fading in my memory, so who knows?

Magne has written about home a few times, in fact you can do a term search on that URL I posted from the MySpace blogs and find six poems with the word 'home' in them, if you're interested ;-) All worth reading again if you haven't seen them in a while. But IMO none of them will give you a clue as to the main theme of the new song, it is just an interesting way to look back at the poems, by searching for a particular concept or theme.

More on home soon. In the meantime, best wishes to Magne and Heidi on their 25th wedding anniversary, which they celebrated this week in Italy. Their sons posted some wonderful and very personal pictures of the couple on Instagram, and I can't help thinking this could be their home. Home isn't only a place, it's a feeling, and this looks a lot like home. Beautiful <3
01 July 2017 @ 03:25 pm
You've probably seen by now that a-ha opened their two acoustic shows last week with a new song written by Magne called 'This Is Our Home'.

Don't worry, no real spoilers here - but I will share the reactions I heard from those I spoke with in Giske, to give you some context. It seemed everyone liked it well enough, although what normally happened in conversation was a comparison between Magne's new song and Paul's new song, which I guess was natural. And unsurprisingly, those who are known Magne fans liked his song better, and those who are known Paul fans liked his song better. So....that doesn't help much at all, does it? ;-)

I loved it, of course. When the first show opened with an unfamiliar song, and none of us knew what to expect, I think we were all on the edge of our seats - it was a brilliant choice to open the set with a new song for this reason. If they'd opened with a known song, they would have had to figure out which known song would most effectively set the tone for the whole set. New was good, definitely.

I had a feeling pretty early on that the song was written by Magne, but others confirmed this hunch after the show. A few people pointed out, 'Of course it was Magne's, Paul barely had anything to do on that song...' and clearly the other new song had to be by Paul, because he was totally involved in it.

The lyrics of both songs were also dead giveaways for most people. Particularly the refrain of Paul's song reminded me of 'Half of the Time' from Savoy (although it took me days to figure out that was the song that was nagging the back of my brain..!). Some people said Magne's lyrics were 'simple' but not in a bad way; more like they were easy to pick up and the melody was more moving for them than the words.

So, having seen the first night's show, I knew that I really wanted to listen closely to 'This Is Our Home' on the second night, to absorb as much as possible of the song and how it made me feel, to tide me over until I can listen to the album in 4-5 months' time. I sat very still and paid very little attention to anything around me, which is a good thing because my friend David (who was sitting in front of me) said that there were several cameras recording nearby - and one of them was focused on the row I was sitting in, because the people I was next to were interviewed for a documentary. The director probably wanted to capture their reactions to the music to include in the piece he was doing about them, and depending on how he edits it, the whole world will see my honest reaction to the song, as well. Weird.

I can't wait for everyone to hear the new songs and particularly 'This Is Our Home', which I think will go down really well in the larger live setting during the tour. Just a few months to wait until I can listen again, and people will share their reactions to it :-)
22 June 2017 @ 02:55 am
I was in the lobby of Brosundet hotel waiting for a couple of people I was meeting this morning, and wandered around a corner to see this amazing work from Texture on the far wall of a sitting area/lounge facing the street:

It was sort of like meeting a good friend in an expected place - I was unprepared but delighted to see it :-)
09 May 2017 @ 11:21 pm
I don't have time for a regular post right now, but I can promise a longish post soonish about Payne's Gray/PPFT in Edinburgh because Nostalgia and Reasons. It's only about half drafted in my brain, needs more time to develop :-)

In the meantime, some quick diversions! Here are two ways to find some gems about Magne's art and music:

~ Visit issuu.com and with Magne's name in the search box, you get tons of publications which have features about his works. Try it, you'll have hours of interesting reading and viewing there. The most recent addition is from TEXTURE at Gulden Kunstverk. Sometimes you have to dig a bit to find a very small reference, other times there is an entire publication about his work.

~ Log in to Facebook and search Magne's name, and then click on 'Top' to get the most discussed content about him, that's an easy one - but I also recommend the Videos tab for some really interesting variety. There are fan tribute videos with personal footage from events, music covers, official videos from Magne's creative and professional partners, mass media reports, etc. And if you go to Events, you can easily find the live Q&A Magne did on his Facebook page back in 2014 and relive that awesomeness :-)

Also, a German fan found this Amazon.com listing for the upcoming book about Imprints. It can't be pre-ordered - at least not in the US - but you can sign up to receive an alert when it is available.

OK, that's it for now except to say I am going to Giske! Not only will the a-ha shows be an experience of a lifetime, but I will also spend some time with one of my former Norwegian classmates, who moved to Norway and got married last year, and I may even get down to Flø and see Hugo's gallery and the Moods of Norway store at last ;-) The gallery is 10 years old this summer, that's pretty special. I hope this time it's sunny! And there is a wonderful little street of shops I want to amble through again, located near the ferry landing. I'm also sneaking in a Coldplay/Mew show in Sweden on my way home - that 'just in case' ticket will be used after all!

30 April 2017 @ 12:19 am
Already I'm liking this new post title format, because it gets me to focus on things that make me happy :-) The 'disconnected randomness' title series was good for a while, but words are important - labeling something 'random' can have the effect of diminishing it.

~ Somehow I spaced on the fact that Magne and Queen Sonja were opening an exhibition of 'TEXTURE' today at Gulden Kunstverk in Steinberg, Norway. I woke up to notifications from Facebook that the gallery had a Facebook Live feed of their entrance and remarks, what a wonderful surprise that was. If you missed it, you can watch it here. The space looks very distinctive, I bet it is striking to see the works in that setting. The exhibition runs until May 28. Check Instagram for some nice photos from the opening, like this one.

~ I told my boss about a-ha's acoustic performances this June, and he assured me right away, 'If you have the opportunity to go, you should do it!' Maybe it's because he's kind of a geek himself - he's into WoW, Star Trek, pop culture, and more - or maybe it's because he's young, or basically just a cool guy, but he actually got it. It was so nice to share my excitement about the possibility with him and not be made to feel silly or crazy or selfish. You don't need to be best friends with the people you work with, but it is nice when your coworkers value not just the work you do but who you are and what you bring to the team. My new boss took pictures at the Norway pavilian at Epcot last weekend just so he could show them to me - it was a small thing, but it made me happy he thought of me on his vacation and wanted to share part of it with me :-)

~ Recently someone posted a Magne F live video from 2008 and it got me thinking about great shows I've been to, as well as the ones that got away. One of the shows I most dearly wish I had gone to was one I didn't even know was happening until it was over - Magne's debut as a solo musician at the Henie-Onstad Kunstsenter in September 2004. He introduced the performance by saying 'Welcome to the most important night of my life,' and as such it was extremely special of course; but I can't help thinking about all of the important and amazing things he has done since then and wondering how he would rank that night in comparison now in retrospect. No matter what, I would have loved to have been there. There are no videos available from that night (that I know of), but this playlist is from a couple of weeks later - it makes me smile to remember how exciting this project was and the world it opened up for me (and obviously him):

14 April 2017 @ 09:54 pm
In keeping with my last post, I'm going to try to share more things that make me happy, and are at least loosely on topic ;-)

~ Thanks to Jakob, we know that Magne played synths on the song 'I Natt Blir Du Fri' on Janove Ottesen's new album 'Artisten & Marlene'. The album is really good overall, and this track is one of my favorites, it makes me happy every time I hear it. Random aside: I saw Janove perform at a Norwegian church in NYC on May 17, 2013 with some friends, I was standing behind and to the left of the person who filmed this clip. He's an amazing piano player, and a very talented songwriter.

~ Have you ever bought a concert ticket for a show you aren't even sure you can attend, but the possibility alone is enough to make you super happy? Well I bought a ticket for one of the Mew/Coldplay shows in Sweden in June, just in case I happen to be in Norway around that time and can manage to make it over to Gothenburg that night. How cool would it be to see both Mew and Coldplay in one night?! It's a bit of a stretch, I don't really expect it to work out, but I am happy to have a ticket in case the planets align.

~ I saw that Janove is performing at Over Oslo that same weekend, but when I went to buy a 'just in case' ticket for that, I found out it is sold out. But that's ok, it was fun to imagine having the possibility of the chance of seeing him within a couple of days of Coldplay and Mew :-)

~ In an interview in Krigsropet, Magne said of the sculpture park in Fornebuporten, "This isn't a park that shows itself off, instead it's hiding. Sometimes we have to walk around and search for things. It's a journey of discovery, and I hope it triggers a sense of wonder." That's exactly how I feel about the park, and I'm interested to read that even more features have been added since the opening in June. There will be a lot more for me to experience the next time I go there.

More to come ~
07 February 2017 @ 12:54 am
Several works of Magne's have been selected to be translated into hand-knotted rugs for a limited collection with Urban Fabric Rugs, which will be launched at the Stockholm Furniture Fair later this week:

You can find some posts about it on Facebook and Instagram, including some behind the scenes photos and video clips.

where do you take your
confidence from? and if energy
is a constant then whose confidence
is gone? if 98% of the atoms
in your body were not even there a
year ago what makes you
insist again and again
you are you? what tells
you what compels you to make
spectacle of everything you're about
memory is meant to make you stronger
not wipe your sense of self out
with confidence gone
learn to love doubt

While all three of the chosen works are stunning - and so well suited - in this new medium, this one stood out for me in part as yet another case of Magne expressing something I think many people can relate to.

Two lines really strike me: 'memory is meant to make you stronger' and 'learn to love doubt'. The former is self explanatory, yet prompts you to think of your own past and consider whether you've somehow allowed memory to weaken you instead; a perfect device to spark introspection in every viewer. The second invites you to dig much deeper, just as the poem is ending, to not only identify your doubt (difficult enough at times) but to embrace it.

Life is full of doubts, and this may simply be saying we'd get through our days much better if instead of ignoring, resisting or hiding from doubt, we face it, get to know it, develop a kind of affection for it, and thereby not merely lessen its power over us, but use it as an impetus to continue to move forward. Basically, you can find a way to make something unpleasant and defeating into something positive, or at least to accept that some things can't be changed, and you are better off approaching them from a place of strength. What's stronger than love, after all?

Surely that is enough to like about this poem: a common wisdom expressed in a unique way. However two other lyrics come to mind unbidden, and make me consider this theme in a couple of different lights.

From 'Undo my Heart' (which Magne is a co-writer on, so this may or may not be his contribution):

'They say that love's a catapult to throw out your doubt / it flies for miles, through the clouds, and lands without a sound.'

I always liked these lines because they express an active, immensely helpful and selfless aspect of love: to break down your love's doubts and hurl them with all your strength far enough away that it's as if they never were. One helps the other in conquering doubt, so the mind and heart are clear and not weighed down anymore, which allows both people to love more deeply and freely. It's such a beautiful idea. I think too many people carry their doubts like obligations, not to mention as deep, dark secrets, as if to say them out loud gives them more power than they already have. However with the right person, you can share your doubt and know it will be respected and understood, not dismissed or trivialized, or intensified, or somehow used against you to hold you captive. The right person will want to know what your doubts are so they can help you deal with them and get free of them.

Makes sense, right? But 'learn to love doubt' seems to be saying the opposite: doubt is here to stay, so you might as well find a way to love it. On one hand, I don't like that idea because I'd rather believe you *can* be free of doubt; but on the other hand, I have to acknowledge that it's human nature to have doubts, and therefore the wisdom of learning to live well with them is a more realistic goal.

From 'Time and Place':

'Your heart does what it's told'

This lyric is one of my favorites from Magne's solo albums. It refers to the theme of conflict betwen the heart and the mind. The heart is the seat of emotion of every kind, not just love but anger and sorrow and every other feeling that makes us human. The heart should be free, it yearns for connection and inspiration. Meanwhile the mind has great power; at times it is difficult for even the most open heart to argue with logic.

How often do we convince ourselves that we're happy with how things are? Or patiently wait when we want to be off and running? Or downplay our ideas and creativity because we don't think others are receptive to them? How often do we love where we think we shouldn't, or yearn for friendship but something stops us from taking that important first step? Why do we hide a delighted smile when we see someone we love? Why do we keep people at arm's length even when we know they want the best for us? Doubt. Uncertainty. Lack of confidence.

It may seem better to believe what your mind tells you to believe - or to believe what others tell you is the logical thing to believe - than to risk allowing your heart to show you the way. By letting reason have sway, you can defend any choice with logic, and never deal with doubt of the heart. We're told that it's better and safer to have a plan than to follow your heart, and if we're not careful, we can wind up convincing ourselves to feel what we *think* we should be feeling. In this context, 'learning to love doubt' seems like it could be another example of this, a kind of advice to the mind for the protection of the heart.

Yet...no matter what reason or knowledge our minds have, our hearts don't want to be told what to feel ;-) Even if you hide that smile, your heart is still doing flips at the sight of your love. Even if you tell yourself an idea isn't going to fly, the really good ones will pester you on the inside until you find a way to share them and allow them a chance to develop. Despite the benefits of logic, our hearts are happiest when they lead the way.

And...I honestly don't know which is worse, the feeling of doubt itself, or the understanding that because of it, we are holding back or missing out on something essential and important and true. Is it possible that in loving our doubt, we take away its power over us?

Long story short: another great poem. Hopefully Magne publishes more poetry in book, digital or other form soon.
31 January 2017 @ 10:31 pm
For those who haven't been able to listen to the 'Beatles' movie soundtrack yet due to geographic, financial or initiative reasons (no judgement! ;-)), you can now listen to four of the songs on a new YouTube channel:

The channel was created a couple of days ago and so far there are only four tracks available. Hopefully all the tracks will be added at some point..? Anyway, get on over there in case it's not an official channel and the songs get taken down ;-) Easily one of my top three favorite albums of all time, it has a very special place in my heart.