Wednesday, 19 May 2010

The Day Before You Came Abba made Joy Division sound like Jive Bunny


From the DC blog:

JoeM said... David E, Mamma Mia still makes me cringe - I thought it was because of all that un-ABBA like sunshine, but of course Priscilla showed you could do the sunny side of ABBA and still be brilliant.

But they are Swedish and I'm Scottish so I just wish someone would do Dark ABBA. So many of their songs are bleak: Day Before You Came, Winner Takes It All, Knowing me Knowing You and of course Tiger.

_Black_Acrylic said... @ JoeM, with you all the way on late ABBA, there's an old Guardian article here puts it nicely: they "made Joy Division sound like Jive Bunny". How true.

JoeM said... Black Acrylic, that was indeed a good article. I like that he points out how unfair it was that The Day Before You Came gave them one of their worst chart placings, just as one of the Pet Shop Boys' best records - Being Boring - did similarly badly for them.

Reading that Agnetha was told to 'sing as though you're bored' perhaps explains one of the strange things about the song. All the lyrics tell us is that the singer has a mundane life of quiet desperation until Someone appears in her life. Now there's loads of happy songs about just such a situation (the fact that I can't name one at this moment is neither here nor there). In them though it's a joyous thing that's happening - life begins from this moment on. So why, when I listen to this song have I always imagined that The Day He Came the singer meets the love of her life who, after an intense difficult one-sided romance, dumps her?

It must be the voice, the beat, the tone.

'It's funny but I had no sense of living without aim' - until now.
It sounds to me like an elegy for a bland but not unhappy life.

_Black_Acrylic said... @ JoeM, this post on the k-punk is also worth a read. Sadly the Marcello post it links to is no longer viewable, but he made a really telling point that the *you* in the song could be something tragic, a disease or a terrible accident.

JoeM said... I never thought of that Black A - cancer or something. It ends with the narrator lying in bed, turning off the light, listening to the rattling rain: it could be death - You = The Grim Reaper.

So it could be a sort of more subtle Eleanor Rigby...

I must have died and been buried along with my name
The day after you came

DC: ** _Black_Acrylic, Ha ha, great Guardian quote about ABBA there. So true. And I've long been in the camp that reads 'The Day Before You Came' as being about death or the death-like. Bjorn or Benny once sidestepped a question about that in a way that basically proved the theory. **

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