Friday, 27 June 2008

Muziek Parade, 1983: I feel better than ever!

An article published in Dutch magazine Muziek Parade, following Agnetha's promotional visit to Holland for the Wrap Your Arms Around Me album.At the big ANWB TV-show, Muziek Parade met ABBA’s Agnetha. Behind the scenes she talked about the difficult time she has behind her. It became clear that Agnetha went through hell, and that the break from ABBA did her good. Full of courage, she’s looking at the future again. And there’s no doubt about it that the future looks promising!

The past two years we haven’t heard much of Agnetha. And probably it was all for the better, because she herself wasn’t motivated to do anything. ABBA was drawing to its close, the hits weren’t as convincing as they once were and the harmony in the group, or rather the lack of it, was perceptible. The energy had been lost and who dared to re-energize the group?
Frida was the first to make some drastic changes. After her divorce she cleared the air. Together with Phil Collins she started a new life. Her solo-album ‘Something’s Going On’ brought a new and daring sound and gave her her first solo-successes, albeit short-lived.
Meanwhile Agnetha kept things quiet. Her divorce was harder on her than many could have imagined. She was upset and nothing seemed to inspire her. The friends she met in those days couldn’t make a permanent change in her state of mind. The time that’s behind her caused her a lot of pain and it seems as if those years are written on her face.
“You know,” she says after a while during the interview we had with her backstage, “in hindsight you wonder why it all took so long. Everything that has happened, was a long time coming. Our divorce had been in the air for a long time. The birth of Christian could not turn things around. Even before that, things hadn’t been good between Björn and me. What do you expect, we saw each other 24 hours a day, ultimately that has to cause problems. In a normal family the husband works and the wife is keeping house. She only sees her husband in the evenings and the weekends, so when disagreements arise it’s possible to let a day go by and let things quiet down, before talking it out. The biggest tension is then relieved, but with us that was different.
During tours we saw each other every day and that wasn’t fun. On top of that we were fed up with being away from home so much and not being able to even go out on the town, shopping or something. All those things can get annoying. And the times we were at home, Benny and Björn had to go out again to write songs in total isolation. That would go on for weeks on end and then it would be time again to get to work in the studio. That’s not a life, is it?”

In the past ten years, ABBA was the leading group in Western-Europe. After their Eurovision victory in Brighton in 1974, they stormed the charts. Not as one-hit-wonders, the following nine years every single would be a top 10 hit. Not bad for a group from Sweden and a group that could equal the popularity of the Beatles and even surpass it, in time-span.
“Yes, getting divorced is a heavy blow,” she says. “Even more so when you are famous. These are aspects you reckon with from the start, and it makes you try to keep a divorce at a distance. But eventually, we had to make the decision. Christian, who will turn six years old this year, was our last hope, but it wasn’t to be. No, it’s not that there were big fights between us, but the love wasn’t there anymore, we didn’t have anything to say to each other anymore. And I’m only human. I cried a lot in those times, it was really bad.”

Agnetha is doing well again. Really well, actually. Together with the English hit-maker Michael Chapman she has recorded a well-balanced album. Not only the single ‘The Heat Is On’, but also the album ‘Wrap Your Arms Around Me’ is of the kind of perfection we could expect from Agnetha. Her eyes start to sparkle when we talk about it and she says: “That album-title says it all, really, don’t you think. Take me in your arms, a feeling I have missed for years and only since recently I know what it means again. It means there’s someone there who loves you, someone to turn to when something bad happens, or when you feel depressed, someone who helps you to get back on your feet again. Sometimes words are not able to express what you want to say. A gesture like an arm around your shoulder can be enough, it speaks volumes. It gets you going again. That’s why I wasn’t able to do this record sooner. I needed someone to talk to, someone who could take my insecurity away. I have someone like that now. I felt relieved of an enormous pressure, I was able to see things in perspective again. The children, Linda and her brother Christian, have had time to recover as well, they are coming back to life again. Finally, I’ve found the right balance between my work and my family. Especially Linda has helped me a lot lately, as little as she is. I really don’t know, where she gets it from. Maybe childlike simplicity is the answer to difficult issues. I know now that the hard work of the past years has left its mark on me. It has worn me out, but it’s very strange, I’ve started again with new courage and when I see the results, I can honestly say: I feel better than ever!”

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