Sunday, 2 November 2008

Studio, 1999: Agnetha's cautious comeback

In the meantime she’s 49-years-old, Agnetha Fältskog, ABBA’s blonde. For years, she lived a secluded life on her estate near Stockholm. But, for the first time in many years, she speaks about ABBA and the life after the success in the documentary The Winner Takes It All.

This year, it’s 25 years ago that ABBA won the Eurovision Song Contest with ‘Waterloo’. To commemorate that event, the BBC has made a documentary about the group in which all group-members get their say. So, Agnetha as well. She explains how difficult it has been for her. “For ten years, I didn’t play, make or listen to music. I didn’t even have a decent stereo-system. The silence has been necessary. It enabled me to catch my breath, process and recover.”

The recovery was necessary after ABBA’s overwhelming success. The band that sold hundreds of millions of records, was working at a maddening pace. It was especially difficult for Agnetha. “Sometimes it was awful. There was hysteria, obsessed fans that gave me the feeling they would never let go of me.” Apart from that, at the height of ABBA’s fame, the blonde singer had two small children with her former husband Björn. “I was torn in two. There was one part that wanted to be as successful as possible in my career, the other part just wanted to be a mother and take care of the children at home.” Due to lack of motivation with all group-members, but especially Agnetha, ABBA called it a day in 1982. The meanwhile immensely rich singer tried her hands on a solo career in the following years. Except for Sweden, that attempt wasn’t very successful.

In 1987, she radically retired from show-business to devote herself completely to her children. Since then, Agnetha turned out to be a popular victim to the Swedish media. “They write a lot of bad things about me. Some papers are saying that I’m hiding in my house like a Greta Garbo. That’s not true. I’m very normal. I simply don’t want people to know everything about me. But I have nothing to hide.” Exactly because Agnetha avoids publicity consequently, everything she does is still news. Agnetha spotted in the supermarket? The next day it can be read in the newspapers. Agnetha getting sushi from a Japanese take-out restaurant? All of Sweden knows about it. Apart from that, the strangest rumours were circulating. Agnetha wouldn’t dare to leave her house, would be severely depressed and unsociable. But she herself claimed to be an ordinary housewife, who took care of her children, took long walks with her dogs and just wanted some peace and quiet for a while. “I’m very happy,” she says in one of the rare interviews from that time. “I have new friends, I feel great.”

In 1990, she – secretly – married a Swedish surgeon. But that marriage wouldn’t last for long. Already eighteen months later, the singer filed for divorce. Now the children have left home. 25-year-old Linda played a small part in one of her dad’s musicals and debuted in a Swedish movie. Her 23-year-old son graduated from the art academy. The time seems to be right for Agnetha to go out in public again. She released a biography and a Best Of-CD and seems to have made recordings in a recording studio, but those are rumours yet again. And now the ABBA-documentary. She still didn’t want to appear on screen talking. The only images are those of her walking on her estate. Surprisingly, her appearance didn’t change much. And for the first time in many years, she thinks about her career again. “Sometimes I feel the urge to do something. A couple of years ago that would have been unthinkable. But I’m aware that I have a special voice and the door is still open for new ideas, possibilities and my music.”


Anonymous said...

just wanna tell u a big thank u for scanning and translating these articles..really interesting ;)

Michel said...

Thanks! Glad you like them.