Sunday, 9 August 2009

Hitkrant, February 1983: ABBA has not reached the finishing line yet - “Persevere until people in the jungle are whistling our songs”

An article from Dutch magazine Hitkrant about ABBA’s ambitions for the future.
“I remain a dreamer, no matter how high on the stepladder I stand. Only after each mountain top is overcome, the vision broadens again.” Or the ABBA philosophy in a nutshell. Björn doesn’t ask himself the question whether it’s possible to reach even higher after a long string of hit singles. “An artist has to keep on looking for challenges. If necessary, create them himself. The musical that we’re working on at the moment is a good example of that.”

The word ‘discipline’ is not often used anymore in our time. Still, strict agreements and an exceptional devotion are the only way to survive for ABBA as well. Björn and Benny look each other up every working day and work on new material non stop for six hours. After a first rough concept, both gentlemen withdraw to take a little off the edges and fine-tune the end result into a unique masterpiece. Can it still be done, ten years after their first success?
“Indeed, it’s getting more difficult to put songs together,” Björn admits wholeheartedly. “After such a long time, it’s inevitable that you get the feeling that you’ve said everything there is to say. Every sentence that I write down, even the most personal revelations, inevitably remind me of earlier work. An iron writing discipline is the only way to escape that. Inspiration for fifteen years of songs can’t be found in a bottle. It has to come from the inside, from your own heart. Otherwise, it’s practically worthless. Even when there’s a day that things don’t run very smoothly, holding on is the message.”
Despite the fact that the criticism on the Swedish foursome was very severe after their almost legendary Eurovision victory, Björn still regards ‘Waterloo’ as one of the most important chapters from ABBA’s collected work. Still, change forces itself upon a person, in order to keep the craft interesting.
“A dream that I’ve been cherishing for a long time, is now starting to become reality,” Björn smiles mysteriously. “Together with Benny, I’ve travelled to London a couple of times to discuss the plans for a musical with Tim Rice. We’ve wanted to do that for a long time, but it could never be done because we were too busy. Tim is the man behind huge successes like ‘Evita’ and ‘Jesus Christ Superstar’. Unfortunately, I can’t tell you more about it at this stage. The negotiations about the production and the casting are still taking place. Only when it comes to the musical part, Benny and I are having a clear vision.”

The areas in which ABBA operates are being expanded every year. Regularly, this concerned risky investments that threatened the future of the group in the past. Frida has moved to London permanently, Agnetha is going to work with Blondie-producer Mike Chapman and possibly star in a movie. It’s possible that the plans surrounding the musical are not final yet, but it’s widely known that both ABBA-singers would love to get up on stage again. It wouldn’t come as a surprise if the leading parts would be assigned to Frida and Agnetha. Despite the successful sales figures, Björn regrets the fact that he will have to miss the contact with the fans for even longer. Isn’t it high time to defrost the touring plans?
“It’s of the utmost importance that you are able to see the faces of the people that you’re ultimately doing all this for. Crying or smiling – it doesn’t matter – but you have to see them. One look at the charts leaves me contented, but artistic gratification is a different matter. I doubt that we will go on tour again before 1984, but I do want to get through to even more people. If something like a record player exists in the jungle, an ABBA-single must be put under the needle. That would be the ultimate goal. Only recently, I was watching Russian television. A programme from the barren East of the Soviet Union. On the screen, a couple of youngsters with some ragged amplifiers, but they did play one of our songs!”

1 comment:

Iris said...

Amazing article , thanks !