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)