The birth of a myth | 17 August 2007

On 20 August of this year it will be 25 years ago to the day when ABBA recorded The Day Before You Came. It turned out to be their final recording.

A quarter of a century is a long, long time. And yet, Benny's haunting melody, the brilliant lyrics by Björn, Frida's wonderful operatic background vocals and the sublime lead by Agnetha give me goose bumps every time. It's not often that a pop group's very last recording is a masterpiece of it's own.

More often than not pop groups split up when they should have gone separate ways a long time ago. I mean, when the Rolling Stones will quit, nobody will talk about their final albums or singles. People will talk about their music from the sixties to the early eighties. They live on borrowed time for at least two decades.

ABBA could have done that too. Record an album every three or four years, do a major tour every now and then and profit from exploding concert ticket prices. It would have meant an easy life for all four members.

Instead they choose to split just before their empire collapsed. Because no matter how brilliant The Day Before You Came is, it was the first ABBA single to have flopped in the British charts. It did well in the rest of Europe, but the decline started with this single. And the follow up single Under Attack was even less successful.

And then ABBA took a break which eventually became a full stop. And so in the minds of their fans they stopped while most people saw them as a fantastic pop group. And that's why most fans would love to hear a brand new ABBA song now. That's why the press still write about them. That's why ABBA reunion rumours still make headlines after 25 years.

Another benefit is that ABBA simply never recorded bad singles. OK, not all them are exceptionally crafted pop classics, but nobody noticed a downfall in quality when the evident split was final in 1983.

So in the end moving on from ABBA towards new musical horizons, when ABBA was still pretty hot, probably was the best thing that Björn, Benny, Agnetha and Frida could have done for the business empire called ABBA. It left them a superb legacy, a fantastic myth and an everlasting source of income.

picture belonging to column The birth of a myth

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