WARNING! If you have not yet purchased and read The Swing of Things by Jan Omdahl, this review might contain spoilers as to the contents of this book.
The new a-ha book The Swing of Things is like a piece of exquisite candy. Once you’ve tasted it you keep coming back for more, but at the same time you wish it would last forever.
Since I’m interested in psychology, I was thrilled to hear Jan Omdahl was writing a psychological portrait of my favourite band. I ordered the Norwegian version of the book, partly because I take every possible opportunity to read in this language and partly because I didn’t feel like waiting for the English translation. The book, which I ever since refer to as “my preciousss”, arrived only one day after my birthday (which also happens to be Magne’s birthday).
This book has it all for the true a-ha fan. When reading it I found myself completely unaware of time and space. The house could have been on fire for all I knew. As reviewers before me have pointed out, the chapters take quite some time to savour. Even though I have heard the by now cliche Cinderella story of the band before, I noticed I had a lot of catching up to do. Since I’m a relatively new follower of the band (three years and counting), I simply wasn’t around when hysterical fans hunted down the band members across the planet or Magne tried to drink people under the table (maybe he still does?). You older (old refers to the duration of your fandom, not to actual age) fans should know I am slightly envious of you for this reason (no offence).
So it is clear that the book has a fair amount of information. The quality of this information is not for me to judge. I’m certain Omdahl has done incredibly extensive research and I think he has given a versatile and interesting as well as authentic account, and hey, nobody’s ever entirely objective. The book contains social, economical and trivial factors alike. Even a complete reproduction of Magne’s and Morten’s fascinating diets is included! Whether Omdahl is writing about solo projects, the creative process or Morten’s relationship to his healer, the author’s profession shines through in his approach of the subjects, i.e. the guys get to speak for themselves, and what could be a fairer treatment than that?
Much has been said on the topic of the books depressive effect. This, in my opinion, only gives the book more go. And in case you haven’t noticed that Real Life brings its fair share of problems for most people, maybe it’s time you opened your eyes. The point is, three highly intelligent and creative minds such as Magne, Morten and Paul should be able to cope with and conquer their differences of opinion and I think they have every possibility of doing so if they only set their beautiful minds to it.
Apart from the above, the book has many amusing anecdotes too, and the “translation” of “Take On Me” into Norwegian by Pål H. Christiansen almost killed me (by the way I don’t know how that one worked out in the English translation). The comments on all the studio albums in between the chapters are also very interesting.
And, oh boy, I haven’t even mentioned the cd yet! This rare material gives a splendid insight into the process of writing such amazing songs as “Hunting High And Low” and “The Swing Of Things,” to only mention a few. Who said happiness cannot be bought? It’s a virtual goldmine, I’m telling you.
Anyone with a passion for a-ha statistics will be equally satisfied. For example, I found out that the concert I attended at the club Nosturi (please note not the House of Culture, the venue was changed) in Helsinki, 2002, was actually the only concert the band has ever given in Finland!
I’ve never had a chance to talk to Magne, Morten or Paul, but if I ever do I think I will ask them if they know just how lucky they are. I have the reason to think they have the best job in the world, a job that comes with the power of making a lot of people’s dreams come true.
Tags: Books, Reviews