Although I generally avoid talking or writing about politics, since the song was inspired by a political situation, it's important to consider the lyrics in that light.
'It matters what you do
It matters what you say'
Leaders and politicians should know this: what you do and say are important, they can set precedent, they can inspire confidence or instill fear, they can demonstrate capability and knowledge or utter disregard for established protocol and procedure, and open facts up for debate and devaluation. And though some people think it is enough to *say* the right thing, most people know you must also *do* the right thing. These two should go hand in hand for any public servant, anyone who claims to work for the benefit of the people they have been elected to represent.
'It matters that you lead the way'
What we're dealing with now is a distinct lack of good leadership; just having the role of 'leader' doesn't make you a good one. Leading is an active pursuit for the benefit of those who follow, and should be undertaken with others' needs in mind in precedence over your own ambitions and goals. 'With power comes responsibility' - you don't get the job without the work that comes with it.
'It matters what you think
It matters what you know'
So much has been said about people in positions within the government who are not in any way qualified, or in fact have professional and personal experience which are diametrically opposed to the goals and objectives of their office, that I don't need to spend time on this here. We see almost daily evidence of ignorance about facts, protocol, procedure, standards, ethics and even simple manners and basic human decency. Sigh.
'This is our home
This is the place where we belong'
We have one world. This world is threatened now on levels I don't care to spend time writng about and couldn't pretend to fully understand. What is happening is real, the effects are far-reaching - not only in space, but in time. Our government's actions impact the world, for now and into the next generation. It will take years to undo what has been done in the past ten months.
This is all important, the message is simple but powerful. And while some artists and musicians - and journalists, entertainers and many others in the public sphere - have found ways to protest loudly, vehemently, frequently and eloquently, what Magne has done is to use his considerable talent to say all that he has to say in quite a simple and beautiful way. As I said before, he doesn't hit you over the head with a big statement, he uses lyrics that would resonate with anyone on a personal level (see below), composed a thoughtful, yearning and warm melody to go with them, and presented a song that focuses on encouragement and reassurance rather than on recrimination and judgement.
Maybe *that* is what shocked me most about learning the inspiration for the song - that a song that invokes togetherness and a deep personal bond could be about a global societal danger we face as human beings. The scope of the latter line of thinking is as broad and impersonal as you can get, I suppose. And yet...when I hear the song, I feel calm, contentment and belonging. In this context, I feel it as both a caress and a kind of warning. How does he do that?
I looked at it all wrong before when I said 'What else could DT ruin?' I should have looked at it in terms of how amazing it is that our dire political situation could have inspired such a beautiful song. I should have considered that at least one wonderful thing has come from this time we're living through, and - dare I say it? - that there is something to be grateful for in all this. And when there is one thing you can be grateful for, you can certainly look for others - and for hope. People are doing amazing things, and we are experiencing change.
Home as a relationship
Getting off the politcal and back to the personal, yes home is a place, but it can also be a person and/or a relationship. There are some people with whom we are totally at ease, who we trust completely, who lift us up and help us to become the best versions of ourselves, and who miraculously accept us as we are at the same time. This could be a spouse, parents, siblings, children, close friends, etc. - this is not about romance necessarily but about relationships for sure. Some people make us feel at home no matter where we are, and those people and feelings should be cherished. We should also strive to provide that home for those we care about.
Every relationship has its balance, and 'It matters that you lead the way' could refer to one kind of balance. Having two leaders can create tension and conflict, having two followers can mean that nothing ever gets done, so it is important in any relationship to have someone who leads. Maybe not in all things; we each lead in different areas and follow in others. The important thing is to respect, value and acknowledge each person's part in that balance. Leading is difficult, and sometimes can feel like a thankless task. This kind of validation is so essential in any relationship, whether it's expressed in words or in deeds.
'It matters what you say
It matters what you do
It matters what I put you through'
That last line is the only one I can't seem to reconcile with the political meaning of the song, because it really doesn't fit IMO. But anyway, in relationships I guess we all make demands on one another, we all have needs and quirks and insecurities and lapses and...imperfections in general. Those we love often pay the biggest price for these aspects of our personalities, we rely on them and need their help and request acommodations from them and more. This is yet another balance thing, though, it's (hopefully) not just one person but both people in a relationship that put each other through challenging situations in life in addition to all the joys and happinesses they bring to one another. It's so basic and universal that it almost doesn't need saying - and yet we're human and we all need to know the person we love and support is aware of what they ask of us, that they appreciate what we do to try to make/keep them whole every day.
What I like about this framework for the song meaning are those aspects of balance and mutuality - while you hear the words, you can imagine being on the receiving end and being the one to say them, there is a unifying truth to it. This song reminds me of what I need to hear and what I should say to others. And of course we all long for home, no matter how we define it or who we share it with. Again, the concepts are so simple and universal that I think people may miss the profundity of them.
And I am not sure where best to put this musing, but I think this is the closest place for it: On the day(s), hearing Magne's new song and Paul's new song, what struck me most in the comparison is that Magne's song is about belonging and reassurance and building someone up, and Paul's song seems more introspective and...unsettled and/or angsty ('I'm hiding more than I show', 'making up the story as we go'). Also, one of my favorite lyrical devices is chiasmus, I'm a total sucker for it - when it adds complexity to the song meaning. Here it seems merely the device it is, I don't get any additional meaning as a result of its use. Not sure if I am expressing this right, and maybe I am just at a point in my life where I prefer less angst and more clarity.
Home as shared digital space
Those of you who read here regularly may remember that in the spring I wrote a long-ish post about missing the old days in the fan community, the loss of many of the forums and fan sites, the lack of connection via Facebook and other social platforms, etc. I ended up moving that post to my private blog, because it seemed a bit too personal and/or off-topic for here. (Often when I remove posts, that's the reason why, not a change or heart or so.) For anyone who spends as much time online as I do, and who has found lifelong friends via the sites you frequent and participate in, I am sure you can relate to this level of meaning for the song, too.
I won't go into detail here, because I did write about this before and I don't want to wind up self-editing again - suffice it to say that in the context of an a-ha concert, sitting among some of the dear friends I have made online and through the sites I manage and participate in, I couldn't help but think about our shared digital homes and the time spent experiencing all this together with others. They were kind of 'group hug!' moments.
'It matters that you lead the way' can refer to anyone who runs a fan club or site/forum/page. It takes a lot of effort to come up with music-related discussion topics day after day, to research breaking news and share what you learn, to find ways to help your members and visitors get the information they need and maybe find friends while they are at it. There are a number of us, possibly hundreds, who have managed fan groups of various kinds in support of the band, and any of us may feel at times this is a thankless task because so much of the work and effort involved is invisible to the community, not to mention impossible to quantify. In this context especially, because of the sheer amount of work and hours and the passion involved, it's wonderful to hear this line.
A web site or forum can absolutely be like a home, as I mentioned in my previous post. 'This is where we belong' reminds me of the many hours spent comfortably chatting with friends in our digital homes, the feeling of community and kinship is so very special. The bonds you make with people in this context can be like a 'chosen family', and this kind of belonging is in some ways all the more special because you take a risk and open your heart within a limited envirnoment (not IRL or face to face).
I doubt this meaning was anywhere in Magne's intentions for the song, but it's a powerful one for me and one I am very grateful to have.
I think that about covers what I wanted to say about the song. Including my other posts, I've shared at least four distinct frameworks for understanding the meaning behind the lyrics, there may be more of course, showing yet again that Magne has a knack for writing songs and poetry that can be interpreted in many different ways. This was a long one, thanks for reading to the end :-)