The Adventures of Morten Harket (not that one): Part 5

Part 1 – I’ve Been Losing You

Part 2 – The Blood That Moves the Body

Part 3 – The Sun Never Shone That Day

Part 4 – Sycamore Leaves

Shapes That Go Together

Morten Harket stood at the bus stop across the street from his modest suburban home. Autumn was kicking in now and leaves of different persuasions filled the pavement. Not sycamore ones. Well, some were. And when I say persuasions I don’t mean that there were any gay leaves.

Ok, back to the story.

Morten Harket stood at the bu…oh, I’ve done that bit.

ANYWAY…Morten guitar

The bus was late. “Nothing new there,” Morten grumbled as he checked his watch for the fifth time in a minute. He glanced at the shopping list, bemused to find Smash on it. He hadn’t had Smash in years. But times were hard and savings had to be made wherever they could.

“Hello, Morten!”

Morten swiveled and smiled instantly.

“Joanne! It’s been a long time,” he said, extending his hand.
“Oh, enough with the hands,” she said, getting him in a bear hug.
“Look at you!” he said, smiling.
“Look at you!” she exclaimed.
“Oh, no,” he said. “I’ve put on a few pounds.”
“I know,” she nodded. “I was about to say that. You look pudgy.”
“Oh.”

He glanced to his left but still no sign of the bus.

“So I haven’t seen you since…”
“1994,” she said, finishing his sentence. “Yeah, I remember that night.”
“Me too,” he said, sounding distracted. “So, how is life for you?”
“Great,” she said, flashing an obnoxiously-sized wedding ring in his direction. “Married a doctor, fantastic complexion. Huge salary. And you?”
“Yes. Married about three years ago. Yeah.”

“I’ve got three kids,” she smiled, taking out a sheaf of pictures so heavy they would undoubtedly squash an unprepared boy scouts division. “Yep,” she said, flicking ridiculously fast through a collection of banal shots of kids in various embarrassing poses including, oddly, one where they created a human pyramid. You?”

“No, no. We have tried but no luck yet. I’d love a child but…”

“And what do you do for a living?” she said, cutting across him.
“I’m between jobs at the mome…”

“I’ve opened my own coffee shop. It’s doing really well,” she emphasised. “Of course it’s uptown – not in this area,” she grimaced, eyeing the passersby with the sort of contempt held for common criminals.

“That’s my house over there,” he pointed. “It’s not a bad area here but the badgers have an attitude problem.”

She looked at him oddly.

“Do you remember the night we broke up?” she laughed. “What was that song that was out at the time? Do you remember the guys were singing it to you when they found out your name?”
“Yeah,” he nodded, glancing in hope that the bus was pulling up. “It was ‘Shapes That Go Together’.”
“That’s it!” she shouted. “Your name was the same as the band’s singer! Oh that was classic.”
“Classic,” he said with a false smile, driving his hands further in to his pockets.
“When I heard it at the beginning I thought ‘Ooh that’s a bit of fun!’ I liked the vocals and it had a cute melody. Bit of a 7/10 song I thought.”

“Very pleasant,” he agreed. “Brings back vivid memories of that night alright.”
“I heard a live version of the song about 2 years ago would you believe. Oh, my husband – who is quite a rich, successful doctor – is a big a-ha fan. Anyway, he had this great version live from Oslo. A few notes are off at the beginning and Morten’s vocals are a tad raw in parts but the electric guitar part in the middle is funky. Probably worth an extra point at 8/10 if this was some sort of strange scenario where one had to rate songs.”
“Right.”

“Oh,” she said, snorting. “That’s the night you proposed to me and I turned your down! Ahhhh, you were so cute! You’d bought that beautiful ring. I still have it by the way!”
“I never did get that back, did I?” Morten asked, knowing full well what the answer was.
“Ahh, well you were very good to give it to me. But you were like totally obsessed with me. Sure didn’t you walk 25 miles to hold me that night…”
“…just to find you had moved away.”
“That’s right!” she laughed. “I had moved in with my new boyfriend a month before but hadn’t told you. Ahhh, and you took it all in good spirits. But seriously, Morten, I mean I just couldn’t take those jokes about your name all the time. It was never going to work.”

“You know,” he said, looking at his watch, “I have to go.”
“It was great to see you,” she said, grabbing him in a hug. “You’re a lovely bloke. I’m sure you’ll find that job, get a better place to live and lose weight soon.”
“Thanks,” he muttered as he turned to cross the street back to his house.
Morten turned the key in his front door and was met by his expectant wife.

“So…?”

“No joy,” he said, vaulting the homeless waif in the hallway. “It was the a-ha curse again,” he said, tears filling his eyes as the memories flooded his brain.

“Never mind, darling,” she said, embracing him. “Maybe next week we’ll be able to get some groceries.

Come on,” she said, taking him by the hand. “Let’s see if our shapes go together, you and I.”

And with that, adult time began.

Advertisements

The Adventures of Morten Harket (not that one): Part 4

Part 1 – I’ve Been Losing You

Part 2 – The Blood That Moves the Body

Part 3 – The Sun Never Shone That Day

Sycamore LeavesImage

Morten Harket stared out of his bedroom window at the sycamore leaves gathering on the street. “What if a-ha had written a song about these leaves?” he said, half-joking. “I wonder what sort of situation I’d get myself involved in this week.”

“Would I walk by a street sweeper shouting stuff like ‘7/10 for the studio version! 8/10 for the NRK version!’?” I bet I would.

“Darling?” came a voice from behind him. “Come back to bed.”

His wife lay there with just a mink coat on. “Maybe next week you’ll be able to encounter that road sweeper.”

“I know,” he said, turning towards her. “I just can’t stop…thinkin’ ’bout it.”

She smiled. “Why don’t you fill me with unease?”

And they indulged in some ever-popular adult time.

The Adventures of Morten Harket (not that one): Part 3

Part 1 – I’ve Been Losing You

Part 2 – The Blood That Moves the Body

The Sun Never Shone That Day

Morten Harket stood in the men’s department of famous international superstore, Bloominghell’s.

“Welcome to Bloominghell’s!” enthused a dapper young man who was clearly making a rather embarrassing attempt to grow a mustache years before it was feasible. “I’m Nicky!”Morten 2000

“Um, hello,” Morten said tentatively, trying to work out if it were fluff or a shadow on the boy’s top lip. “I’m looking for a suit.”
“Wonderful! Well we have plenty of suits. We have black ones, navy ones, grey ones…”
“Great.”
“Dark blue, red ones, green ones…”
Morten winced. “Are you just saying colours now?” he asked.
“Yes,” admitted Nicky.
“And isn’t navy and dark blue pretty much the same colour?”
“To all intents and purposes, yes,” Nicky nodded. “Now what size jacket are you?”

Morten glanced at his chest and then back to the boy. “I have no idea.”
“Ok,” beamed Nicky, exposing a rogue piece of meat stuck between his front teeth. “Let’s get out the….” He paused as he stuck his hands down his pants before revealing a long object. “…measuring tape!”
“Hmm,” Morten sighed. “If you must.”

Nicky wrapped the tape around Morten’s chest. Muttering numbers to himself, he did some mental arithmetic in, um, his head.
“We have all sorts of sizes,” he continued. “36, 38, 40, 42, 44…”
“It’s just an increment of ‘2’ isn’t it?” Morten interjected. Nicky just nodded intently.
“You’re a 42!” he said excitedly, squeezing his hands in to fists. That’s a great size!”
Morten frowned. “Yeah, sounds like it,” he grimaced, almost slipping in the sarcasm dripping from his words.

“And shall I measure you for your waist and inside leg?” Nicky asked, hopefully.
“Let’s skip that bit,” Morten suggested. “I’m 36-inch waist.”

“I quite fancy you in a black,” Nicky said eyeing Morten from head to toe.
“Then get me a navy.”

The assistant ran off to a nearby rack and came back with an attractive navy suit.
“If you can put that on, sir! Do you need a han…?”
“NO!”

A few minutes later Morten returned from the changing room and Nicky made some measurements for the alterations.

“Superb! It looks great, sir. Is this for your job?” he asked, making polite conversation.
“Um, yes…well…no…I’m looking for a job right now,” Morten explained. “I like this…I think I’ll take it.”

“Great!” smiled Nicky as he jotted down some notes. “We’ll have this suit altered for you on Friday. Now if you would like to change out of it and join me at the cashier point when you’re ready.”

Morten returned to the cash register and handed over his credit card. Nicky did a double take as he looked at it.
“Morten Harket?” he exclaimed, wild eyed. “Oh … my … GOD!! You were like my favourite, ever! I thought you looked familiar!”
Morten smiled weakly. “I’m not him actually. I just share his name, but thank you.”
Nicky looked puzzled. “You share? So…on weekends…he…takes it…?”
“I didn’t mean that literally,” Morten explained.

Nicky tapped some keys and started humming everybody’s got to go, everybody tells you so.
“Is that an a-ha song?!” Morten snapped.
“Ehh, no. No, it’s Supertramp.”
“I’m a big fan of Supertramp,” Morten lied, “and I don’t remember that one. What album was it on?”
“It was … on ‘The Sun Never Shone That Day’ album. Um, it was rare. From Japan. They did a live version too.” Nicky cleared his throat.

“Really?” Morten said, disbelievingly. “And how would you rate both of those albums out of curiosity?”
Nicky nodded. “Probably 7/10 for ‘The Sun Never Shone That Day’ album. I like the rhythm and the bridge is groovy even if the lyrics are a bit grade school.”
“This is your view of the entire album?” Morten asked, fascinated by the still-visible beef between Nicky’s central and lateral incisor.
“Yes…” he said slowly, “that is my view of…the whole album. And the live one…”
“Oooh, tell me. Tell me what you think of the live one.”
“Oh I’d give that 7/10 too. I think it’s very…”
“Groovy?”
“Yeah, groovy,” Nicky said nervously as he looked at the credit card Morten had handed him.

“Mr Harket, I’ve tried this card twice and it’s not working.”
“Try it again,” Morten said, looking worried.
“Ok…” He swiped it again and pushed some buttons. “I’m sorry sir, it’s saying ‘denied’.”
Morten took the card back. “My wife probably didn’t pay the bill,” he said without making eye contact with Nicky. “I’ll come back…”
He turned and left the store.
“He won’t be back,” Nicky said looking at the Morten’s hunched shoulders as he left the store. Nicky hung the suit back where he found it before picking at his teeth.

Morten turned the key in his front door and was met by his expectant wife.

“So…?”

“No joy,” he said, staring at the family of rats who were using a handkerchief as a massive rodent hammock under the hall table. “It was the a-ha curse again,” he said as he checked his own teeth for beef. “And our credit card is maxed-out.”

“Never mind, darling,” she said, embracing him. “Maybe next week you’ll be able to buy a wonderful suit.”
“I should have known that today would not be the day. From the early dawn the sky was grey.”
“But the sun might shine tomorrow,” his wife said squeezing his hand.

And they went, hand in hand, to the bedroom to see if adult time would be fun. And, of course, it was.

The Adventures of Morten Harket (not that one): Part 2

Part 1 – I’ve Been Losing You

The Blood that Moves the Body

It had been a full week since Morten Harket’s unsuccessful job interview at the Acme Bank Company. The Morten Harket words of the bespectacled manager Ron McDonald echoed in his brain: “how can I stop now”…

“Indeed,” he thought to himself, “how can I stop now?”

The rain had been bucketing down all day, his flimsy and inexpensive rainjacket barely protected him from its incessant, almost intrusive actions. He stared at the insurance company shop front across the street, the dreary weather hardly lifting his spirits. “Ok,” he muttered.

A bell tinkeled as he opened the door. There must be a bell deployed just over the door frame, he thought to himself.

“Either that or an amazing coincidence,” piped a voice to his left.

“Excuse me!?” Morten frowned, looking towards the man sitting behind a cheap pine desk in the corner.

“If there is no bell deployed over the door frame then it must be a incidental sound that coincided with you opening the door!” smiled a short, balding man.
“But…”
“You’re thinking, ‘how did he know I said that to myself?'”

Morten nodded, looking around him wearily.

“Ah, well, I can read minds. I don’t do it for a living – I sell insurance for a living!” he snorted rather unattractively. “Oh, I’m Ralph Cake.” He extended his hand.
“Morten Harket,” replied Morten.

“Yes, I know. You rang about the job as office manager here at the Acme Insurance Company.”
“I did.”
“Well, please sit down. Your CV was extremely impressive…but I have to say…I thought you would be more suited to somewhere like a bank. Say, a bank?”

“Yes,” Morten smiled. “I did go to the bank but…” Morten paused.
“Yes?” Ralph inquired by raising his left eyebrow – using his finger rather than his facial muscles.
“Well, I just didn’t think I’d be a fit there. The manager was, uh, a bit fixated on my name.”
“Really?”

Ralph Cake pursed his lips. “How odd. I mean what’s in your name that intrigued him so much?”
“There is a singer who shares my name. And Mr McDonald seemed to think it would be funny to talk about the singer all the time.”

“YES!” yelled Ralph, banging his fist on the desk. “Morten Harket!”
“You remember the singer?” Morten asked nervously.
“Of course! Yes, I remember him. Oh, he was great. The blood that moves the body now covers the ground do do do dooo dooo”

Morten stared incredulously at Ralph as he proceeded to sing the entire “Blood that Moves the Body” song.

“I loved that one,” he said excitedly. “Oh, it was so moody. For me it was a direct descendant of that James Bond song. I didn’t like that one. Probably because that guy who wrote all the James Bond songs was involved. I mean COME ON!! How many songs did he get to co-write!!? There must have been about 800 Bond movies. Sheesh!”

The room descended in to silence.

“Anyway, the job…” Morten began to ask.

“The song performed poorly in the charts yet it was one of their most mature works. Makes you wonder what goes on in people’s heads sometimes. I know when that song came out I was a big fan of Sabrina. Remember her?? Boys, boys, boys, I’m looking for a good time.”

Morten stared at Ralph. “That’s the song…”

“Yes, the song, not me recounting my youth,” Ralph reaffirmed. “Wasn’t the background vocal great in that ‘Blood that Moves the Body’ song? The way My love and your love were whispered just lent a mysterious air to the whole thing. I thought it was classic. Definitely worth 9/10 of anyone’s money.”

“Are you finished now?” asked Morten as he started to button his coat.

“I’d just add that they really made an arse of it when they brought it back to the live set in the ‘Lifelines’ tour. Much like the trick they pulled with ‘The Swing of Things’, they slowed it right down and took the urgency out of it. I’d have to say 6/10 for that one.”

“I must go,” Morten said politely, turning towards the door. “Thank you for your time.”
He left Ralph Cake humming the refrain in an annoying, out of tune, high-pitched way.

Morten turned the key in his front door and was met by his expectant wife.

“So…?”

“No joy,” he said, staring at the damp patches that were becoming more prevalent in the walls, as well as his pants. Well, it had been raining. “It was the a-ha curse again,” he said as he brushed away a tear masquerading as a rain drop.

“Never mind, darling,” she said, embracing him. “Maybe next week you’ll find that perfect job.”

“The ironic thing was that as the rain fell and the interiors of the office fogged – my pain didn’t fade. It was sharper and more intense.”

“That’s not irony, dear,” she assured him. “That’s life.”

And they went, hand in hand, to the bedroom to have some more adult time together.

The Adventures of Morten Harket (not that one): Part 1

It seems that about six years ago I wrote seven ‘shorts’ about a man called Morten Harket who wasn’t the Mortenguy from a-ha.

Morten was not complicated. He was a nice man with a loving wife and all he wanted was to work, pay the bills and try and get through a day without somebody bringing up the fact that he had the same name as the guy from a-ha.

I’m guessing I posted these on the very popular Cold as Stone website back in 2007 as part of their “song of the week” threads. These scenes were written as a mechanism for delivering a “rating” for a particular a-ha song every week. To be honest I had virtually no recollection of writing these – I happened across them when going through some old files.

So without further ado, here is the first part of The Adventures of Morten Harket (not that one)

I’ve Been Losing You

“Good morning! Come in, Mr … ”
“Harket.”
“Mr Harket! Sit down, please.”

The office was large and spacious. The oak desk which seperated Mr Harket from the bespectacled gentleman looked like it would take a small town of Eastern European contract cleaners to keep it gleaming.

“I’m Ron McDonald. It’s lovely to meet you,” the gentleman said politely. “So, it’s Martin, is it?” Ron inquired, removing his spectacles temporarily to admire just how beautiful they were. Which they were.

“No, it’s Morten,” corrected Mr Harket.

“Oh! Like the singer from that Swedish band, Haha?”
“Yes, like the singer from that band…it’s a-ha actually and they’re from Norway.”
“Not Iceland?”
“No.”
“You’re not him though?” the gentleman asked, scrubbing furiously at a blackhead on his cheek.
“No, we just share a name,” smiled Morten Harket politely.

“Right, well, Morten,” he winked, “let’s get down to business. You’re interested in the branch manager job here at the Acme Bank Company.”

“Very much so,” Morten replied, adjusting his tie so that the knot was roughly the size of a large Japanese plum.

“Your CV is very impressive. You left out the bit about you being the singer in a rock band though!” laughed Ron grabbing at a nearby handkerchief for fear his sides would split and cause an unholy mess – intestines and the like.

Morten laughed politely and tried to turn the conversation to his achievements in life. “As you can see I have managed upwards of 30 people in my last job.”

“Was one of them Paul Waaktaar-Savoy?” laughed Ron, slapping his own thigh too hard and wincing slightly.

“Look, Mr McDonald, I’d really rather tell you what I can bring to your company,” Morten said. “I once project managed the installation of a foreign exchange system that processed multip…”

“Did Magne have a logon to that system?” Ron guffawed, the eyeglass in his spectacles cracking from his own sheer hilarity.

“Mr McDonald…” Morten began before Ron cut across him.

“What do you think of that ‘I’ve Been Losing You’ song, eh?” he enquired. God it’s bloody marvellous isn’t it?”

“I don’t know anything about it,” replied Morten, eager to recite the EU exchange rates that he had memorised.

“It’s just so moody and rocky – isn’t it?” Ron continued. “I especially love the lyrics, the desperate begging of lines like ‘please now, talk to me’ and ‘how can i stop now’. It’s such a gritty song but yet melodic too. Wouldn’t you agree?”

Morten stood up. “Mr McDonald, I’m not from that band,” he said sternly, extending his hand to Ron. “I’m beginning to think I wouldn’t be such a good fit here.”

Morten turned and walked out as Ron hummed “helpful…ahhhh” to himself, his eyes closed, his foot tapping.

“10/10,” he murmered. “10/10 for that live performane in Oslo too…”

Morten turned the key in his front door and was met by his expectant wife.

“So…?”

“No joy,” he said, turning his face to the cheap wooden floor that adorned their hallway. He slowly raised his eyes to her again, tears visible behind his lashes. “It was the a-ha curse again.”

“Never mind, love,” she said, embracing him. “Maybe next week you’ll find that perfect job.”

“I have lost my way,” he said to her in a pained voice.

“No,” she smiled warmly. “No, you haven’t.”

And they went, hand in hand, to the bedroom to have some adult time together. 

Nearvana blogging in 2012 – the stats

Once again I was a s-h-one-t blogger this year. I think I’ve become far too concerned with offending or rubbing people up the wrong way (rubbing up against people is actually a lot of fun) so often refrain from posting my sometimes-obtuse views. Maybe in 2013 I can shed my tender skin and reveal the scarred, lizard-like guts that surround my skeleton.

Here’s an excerpt:

600 people reached the top of Mt. Everest in 2012. This blog got about 2,100 views in 2012. If every person who reached the top of Mt. Everest viewed this blog, it would have taken 4 years to get that many views.

Click here to see the complete report.

[Album Review] “Music From Another Dimension” (Deluxe Edition) – Aerosmith

Album Title: Music From Another Dimension

Artist: Aerosmith

Year: 2012

Running Time: 80m 38s

Track listing: 1. LUV XXX; 2. Oh Yeah; 3. Beautiful; 4. Tell Me; 5. Out Go the Lights; 6. Legendary Child; 7. What Could Have Been Love; 8. Street Jesus; 9. Can’t Stop Lovin’ You; 10. Lover Alot; 11. We All Fall Down; 12. Freedom Fighter; 13. Closer; 14. Something; 15. Another Last Goodbye [Deluxe CD] 1. Up On The Mountain; 2. Oasis in the Night; 3. Sunny Side of Love

I’ve finally unveiled rock legends Aerosmith’s grand plan for protecting their legacy – subliminal revisionism.  I recall being somewhat underwhelmed by 1997’s “Nine Lives”; a brash, sprawling follow-up to multi-platinum mainstream hit-machine “Get a Grip”.  Four years later it seemed like a minor classic in comparison to the eclectic “Just Push Play”.  Now, in 2012, even “Just Push Play” may be considered under-appreciated when laid side-by-side with “Music From Another Dimension”.

It’s the record that almost never got made what with Steven Tyler falling off stage, Steven Tyler going to rehab, and Steven Tyler becoming a mainstream TV star.  In fact the only time the other band members entered public consciousness was when Steven Tyler was talking trash about them or they were threatening to form some sort of New Aerosmith without him.

And if you thought all that tension and middle-aged angst would translate in to an inspired, angry opus, you’d be dead wrong.  The presence of Jack Douglas – legendary producer of “Toys in the Attic” and “Rocks” – suggested a return to the attitude and swagger of the mid 70s.  But there’s very little he can do with the dearth of strong material and a band that seem at odds with themselves.

It’s part-Aerosmith album, part-Joe Perry solo record, part-Steven Tyler solo album and the deluxe version even features a debut lead vocal from bassist Tom Hamilton. If it sounds like a patchwork, it really is – an overlong one.

There are high moments for sure.  Joe Perry’s infectious, Stones-inspired “Oh Yeah”, enhanced by horns and female backing vocals, finds the group in their element.  Similarly, the seven-minute “Out Go the Lights” recalls the good-time groove of “Get the Lead Out” and “Lick and a Promise“, while Brad Whitford’s “Street Jesus” is a very good 21st century “Jailbait“.  “Lover Alot” – in spite of it’s seven (!) co-songwriters – is an efficient rocker without pretensions and I’m willing to admit that its complete antithesis – Diane Warren-penned ballad “We All Fall Down” – does overwrought sentiment very well.

Then there’s the near-misses.  “Beautiful” combines a punchy rhythm, with Tyler’s menacing semi-rap (‘I was earjacking, eavsdropping/down on my knees so I can hear what she was sayin’ … Now I got to thinkin’/About my high-speed, dirty deeds’), a fantastic guitar section from guitarists Brad Whitford and Perry but just when the song should be exploding with a crescendo, it gets dragged down by an insipid chorus.

Opener “LUV XXX” is a little lackluster in spite of its crunching riffs and reasonable hook, while the formulaic “Legendary Child” walks that fine line – a lazy rehash of “Walk This Way” or a sassy tribute to their own history?

But the ballads, oh the ballads.  In isolation any one of the country-like “Tell Me”, the uplifting but by-numbers “What Could Have Been Love”, Carrie Underwood duet “Can’t Stop Loving You”, or piano-driven album closer “Another Last Goodbye” would be fine.  But there’s five of them.  On a fifteen track rock album.

The end of the record seems almost like it was tacked on when no one was looking.  Two sturdy Joe Perry vocal vehicles (“Freedom Fighter”, “Something”) and the noirish curiosity “Closer” (co-written by Joey Kramer) are okay but don’t seem very necessary.

And if it seems like the album will never end you can make it last even longer by shelling out a few extra bucks for the deluxe edition.  Hamilton’s 80s rocker “Up on the Mountain” is a victory for the popular axeman who survived throat and tongue cancer while Perry picks up the mic again for “Oasis in the Night”.  The eighty minute carnival ends with the “Jaded“-lite pop song “Sunny Side of Love”; a surprisingly good radio-friendly hook – certainly miles better than those “Girls of Summer“.

The album lacks hits.  There’s not really anything as good as “Beyond Beautiful” or “Jaded” and in fifteen years time we’ll still be hearing “Pink” on rock stations.  But for all that, it’s encouraging to see Tyler and Perry writing together again (“Luv XXX”, “Out Go the Lights”) and great to hear meaningful contributions from Whitford, Hamilton and Kramer.

It’s overlong, clunky and mostly average but I’m sure in a decade I’ll wonder how it wasn’t considered for a Grammy.