Way back when I lived in Ireland, back in 2000, I discovered this amazing 17-year-old Norwegian singer-songwriter. She had the most delicately smooth voice, an album of charming and catchy acoustical songs with heartfelt lyrics that actually meant something, and all while maintaining a decidedly unique and genuine persona. And perhaps that’s what made her so special — her unaffected, possibly naïve, approach to her songwriting, so personal, so true and naked. I loved her then, I love her now, and I’ll never grow tired of her music.
Her name is Lene Marlin. Between the time that I fell in love with her while in Ireland, through many long drives from Manhattan to Humboldt and back, on countless nights when I’d play her song “A Place Nearby” to lull me to sleep, I decided she’d be namesake to my first daughter. I loved her & her music — her name too, of course — that much.
Around Christmas of 2000, on my holiday back to the States, I imported Lene’s first and only album “Playing My Game” with me and turned a few of my friends onto her music. My girlfriend at the time, Angie, took an immediate liking, as did my friend Bryan, who later bought an import album that included a couple live cuts that my genuine UK version didn’t have. Even years later, still fascinated and in love, I shared her album with my friends Ess and Ell, who each liked her as well. I don’t mean to suggest that she should or could be universally appealing — I think maybe I just chose to share her with the right people. I’ve always coveted my relationship with Lene, as a special, undisturbable, uninterruptible love, where no one could intervene because they didn’t even know she exists. I love that power.
I used to think I loved knowing about musical acts “first” — discovering them as it were — but I’ve come to realize that I don’t. I knew Coldplay long before America, long before many Europeans knew Coldplay. They lulled me to sleep on many nights as well. And when they were imported to America, I gained nothing by my early knowledge. Didn’t matter. And so I worried about Lene — about her seizing fame in America and hundreds of thousands of testosterone-driven teenagers lusting after her, raising her to the heights of the Britney and Christina Slut fame, and how I’d be lost in the fray, lost forever as a true dedicated fan of Lene’s. How I loved her, with the real word l o v e, and here are a million pimply dickheads being rude, fueling a well-oiled paparazzi machine, making her life a living nightmare, when all I wanted was for her to be happy and sing me songs, untainted songs about whatever. I just want her to sing me songs.
But I digress: Over these past few years, each time I’ve put her music on (and I do it surprisingly regularly — she never gets old, I swear), I’ll remind myself to check the internet to see if there is any new news from the Lene camp. I’d click onto lenemarlin.com and be confronted with the same stale site that was there a year, two, three years earlier, with the soft, pale skin of a 17 y/o Lene; news about her various awards, her album going Gold in Europe. There were rumors about an album coming out last Fall, in 2002. But nothing came and the rumors subsided, no news, stale site, over and over.
But then, two days ago, I checked her site — a very routine check, but my first in a month — et voila! A new site. A new Lene. A new album. I’m the happiest guy in the world.
I don’t usually behave this way. I’m not one to act like an obsessed fanatical freak. But in this case, I make an exception. This is something special; this is treasured. This is encrusted with the riches of the world. This is gravitas squared. This is a place nearby — indeed, this is heaven.
The album is called “Another Day” and is not due out in America at all — at least not so far. And for this, I am thankful (as explained above). It is only available as a Japanese or UK import. I have ordered the former from Amazon at a very healthy premium; but I am quite willing. The Japanese version includes a bonus track, too, so I’ll have my own little celebration with that.
I’ve already heard the first single off the album, a cut called “You Weren’t There,” available from a link on her website, and I adore it. I haven’t been playing it much (just twice), though, in order to keep its purity intact for when I can listen to the whole album at once. She’s now 22, like me, going on 23 and so I’ll be interested to see what age has done to her voice, to her lyrics, to her songwriting, to her effect on me. Time has done nothing here-nor-there for her looks, which were always stunning, still stunning, as you can see in the picture above.
The album ships on 15 September, so I’ve got a little waiting to do, but I’m used to that. I’ve waited three long years for this and I’m as ready as ever. I’m sure I won’t be disappointed.
Incidentally, I did some searching and found an interview with Lene that asks the question I wanted to ask: Will we have to wait another three years for her next album? I was happy with her response that she has already written some songs for the next album and she doesn’t think it’ll take so long this time. Gospel!