When Everyone In Your Life Knows You’re A Massive a-ha Fan…
…you’re going to be sent the latest acoustic performance of “Take On Me.” A lot. Not that you’ll complain. In fact, you’ll be very grateful to your considerate friends. But you’ll have a lot of thoughts and other a-ha tunes to share!
I’m reluctant to call myself an uber fan of a-ha, but I may qualify: Hunting High and Low was my first tape and I have been a fan since 1985!
I have had the enormous good fortune to see a-ha four times, including flying to London in 2010 for less than 48 hours to see their one-of-a-kind performance of Hunting High and Low followed by Scoundrel Days at Royal Albert Hall.
I had been up for 36 hours, having flown in earlier that day from Austin, Texas. In my hazy jet-lagged state, hearing two of my favorite albums back-to-back with an accompanying orchestra was almost too much for my heart to withstand. I know I got teary-eyed hearing “Hunting High and Low” that night.
At the 2016 O2 show in London it was “Stay On These Roads” that brought small tears. I’m not prone to much crying, but it’s a moving experience to hear ones favorite band perform live!
Over the years, I have remained steadfast in my devotion and converted a few friends along the way. I couldn’t be MORE pleased for Morten, Pal, and Mags to be recognized for their recent acoustic performance of “Take On Me.”
(Amusingly, quite a few friends of mine sent me links to this lovely take. I’m blessed to have so many friends who acknowledge and celebrate my love of a-ha!)
Like many other long-time fans, though, I know that a-ha has been performing intense, personal, intimate songs since their debut.
I am new to Medium, but one of my primary motivations to creating “Bonnie’s Mixed Tape” was to move my casual music postings on Facebook to a format that allowed me the ability to communicate in a more thoughtful manner.
I have so many posts about a-ha (and other groups) that I have made over the past four years and very frankly I have not determined how I will share all of them with this new forum.
Today it occurred to me to highlight some of my favorite songs that share the intimate feel (whether lyrically such as “Manhattan Skyline” or melodically like “There’s Never a Forever Thing”) of the acoustic “Take On Me” version that resonates with so many right now.
I’m thrilled to share these special offerings and look forward to crafting future stories about a-ha’s music.
“There’s Never a Forever Thing”: One of the BEST aspects about posting music is stumbling upon a new-to-me version of a long-time favorite.
I serendipitously discovered this one just 18 months ago.
Within a few seconds of hearing this acoustic version of one of a-ha’s lushest, most haunting, most beautiful songs I had goosebumps. That little unexpected harmonizing moment at 2:12 had me literally yelling out “Good, God”.
I’ve been listening to the original version of this song for 29 years, but remain grateful for this wonderful acoustic gift from 1988’s “Stay On These Roads!”
“You’ll Never Get Over Me”: A-ha are best live and here’s a great example from their comeback album “Minor Earth, Major Sky” in 2000.
It starts off as a low-key beautiful song that builds up to a jangly, rollicking helluva performance.
“Cast in Steel”: 2015 marked a-ha’s 30th anniversary.
Although they officially broke up in 2010, they opted to release one album in honor of what would have been their 30th anniversary accompanied by a small tour.
The eponymous track off of Cast In Steel has REALLY grown on me. I have come to adore the chorus.
As I get older, as I experience the flightiness and capriciousness of others, I appreciate even more the idea of words meaning something.
“Set in stone and cast in steel.” I know I try to live my life this way and admire the heck out of it when I see it in others.
“Angel in the Snow”: A beacon of lightness, goodness, and sweetness during the grunge hey-dey. I was a fan of it upon its release in 1993 and I think it’s held up beautifully.
Clearly this performance was inspired by MTV’s Unplugged series. It works here and is as charming as ever.
And isn’t it an amazing turn of events that MTV Unplugged finally paired up almost 25 years later with our favorite Norwegian trio?!?
“Manhattan Skyline”: I always loved this song off of a-ha’s spectacular sophomore effort, Scoundrel Days, from the fall of 1986. So dramatic, sweeping, and moving!
A bombastic live performance which highlights a particularly emotional vocal delivery by Morten and some riveting musicianship by Mags and Pal.
My understanding is that the band has permanently dedicated it to New York City.
“Hunting High and Low” snippet: Last but not least, a rare find! This is one of my very, very favorite few seconds on youtube.
Morten’s voice is in a league of its own on this random day while riding on a train. Just a snippet, but utter perfection.
It is an honor to share something that is so personal and beloved to me and to so many others. As ever, thank you to Morten, Pal, and Mags!
(I secured my tickets for the Valentine’s Day acoustic London show in a few weeks. Plus, I scored a couple for the “electric” tour this summer. I remain grateful for these last opportunities to see my favorite band of 33 years, a-ha!)
If you enjoyed this story, you might also like:
Thank you for reading this story
I know you are busy and have lots of ways you could be spending your time. You using your time to read my work means the world to me — my sincerest thanks!
If you liked this story, please press the 👏 applause button as generously as you feel called (Medium allows up to 50 claps)! It will help other people find my work.