romanglass (romanglass) wrote in magne_f,

you can't have it both ways

Where did three weeks go?!

Ok, you knew a blog about this song was coming, especially since it was written by Magne. This time there is a little pre-work you have to do before reading any further, otherwise the rest of this will make little sense (or less sense than usual?).

Watch this clip, it's one of my favorite scenes in one of my all time favorite movies, The Fisher King (1991). (sorry it's not embedded, the person who uploaded it disabled that option) This scene often makes me cry, because there is so much going on emotionally between Parry and Lydia, and the acting is just brilliant:

Why am I connecting this scene with Tini's song? In the scene, Parry is only able to convince Lydia of his love by giving her a true reflection of herself - her frailties and her loneliness, and the meaning behind all the small nuances of her solitary daily routine - all of which clearly cause her some pain and surprise to hear about, particularly from someone she just met. However he recounts all of this in a kind way, certainly not sugar coating anything, but accepting and even cherishing these differences in her nature which set her apart. Still, it's heartbreaking to see her disbelief at being the object of anyone's affection, and the struggle inside her as she decides whether to open herself up to him. 'You're real...aren't you?' His devotion and tenderness win her - and us - over, but it is only possible by showing her that he truly knows and understands her.

The song expresses a similar, honest reflection as well. Her offer of love is so beautiful and tender, yet she doesn't sugar coat about his nature either: she knows he is only acting as if he is happy alone, and that he actually longs for safety and belonging; she knows his heart is leading him in one direction, while doubts and insecurities might be leading him in another. (on a side note, this song reminds me a little bit of Magne's poem which includes the lines, 'if I could beat sense into a head / yours would be my first choice' - it is both kind and very blunt)

you can be free, you can be single
you can pretend that it makes your skin tingle

or you can be loved, you can be cared for
you can be warm, honey, that's what I'm here for

you can feel safe, you can feel wanted
you can be offside (I think?) or hopelessly on edge

you can have me, or you can have choices
follow your heart, or listen to those other voices

Even though it may be painful for him to hear the truth about himself, like in Lydia's case, it may be the one thing he needs to hear in order to believe that she truly loves and understands him, and be able to open himself up to her. She is reflecting his heart back to him, still making the offer of love despite any pain his past actions must have caused her.

Where the similarity between the movie scene and the song ends is the chorus; from her perspective, it seems that the only thing keeping them apart is his indecision ('you can't have it both ways, so make up your mind'), and her pain and frustration are exposed right there beside her longing and devotion. She is willing to risk everything for him, but not without making it clear she has been hurt in the process.

Unless I have misunderstood, it sounds like an ultimatum, as if they have been through this before and she is about to give up, and that makes the song as painful as it is beautiful. Honestly, that seeming ultimatum - and the stuff about karma, which I don't really understand - bring me up short every time. I want it to be a happy song, I want it to be the beginning of a wonderful love story, but the way it's written, it is impossible to tell if it is a beginning or an ending. Because of that, it's very bittersweet to listen to, and classic Magne F songwriting - nothing can be taken at face value and there are often several possible meanings to his lyrics and poetry.

It will be interesting to hear the final version of the song. Tini's voice is so expressive and clear, I don't think there could be anything done to make her part any more perfect. Maybe the arrangement could soften a bit, and as some people have pointed out, the chorus repeats a little much at the end, but otherwise I think the song is quite good. In fact, it has most of what makes 'Nothing here to hold you' such a brilliant song - but as you know, I know nothing about songwriting, so this is just my opinion :-)

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