Tuesday, 4 August 2009

Story, January 1977: The trolls were sweet to ABBA’s Agnetha

This article was published in Dutch magazine Story in January 1977. The headline referred to the very first song written by Agnetha at a very young age, Två små troll. The black and white picture shows ABBA arriving in Holland for a promotional visit in November 1976. On the occasion, they received an award for being number one in the Dutch Top 40 (a feat they accomplished with all three of their 1976 singles). Note the instructions on the award: face the camera and be happy.
With a self-written song about trolls, the long-haired creatures from the Swedish forests, blonde Agnetha started her singing career as an eight-year-old girl.

In the very early afternoon, the darkness covers the Swedish landscape with its dark veil. In a beautiful bungalow at sea, not far from the capital Stockholm, nanny Karin draws the curtains. Together with four-year-old Linda she waits...
Exhausted after a long day of rehearsing, dancing lessons and trying on clothes, Agnetha Fältskog, the blonde ABBA-girl, gets out of the car. Her husband Björn Ulvaeus, the short guitarist of the group to whom Agnetha has been married for six years already, is completely worn out as well. But when they get into their cosy home, hear the sputtering flames of the fireplace and see the happy little face of their daughter Linda, their exhaustion seems to disappear. And it doesn’t take long before Agnetha is enticed by the little girl to tell a story about trolls.
“The trolls have always played an important part in my life,” Agnetha says smilingly. “I was only this small,” her hand indicates a height of about 135 centimetres, “when I sang a song about trolls in a show. It was my own composition. You might even say that the trolls were the start of my career. They’ve been good to me!”

“Every now and then, it is suggested that we don’t have any time left for a family life these days,” Björn says, “but that’s not true at all. We, and when I say ‘we’ I mean Anni-Frid Lyngstad and Benny Andersson as well, try to have as much time off as possible for a private life, for contact with family and friends and for relaxation. Once in a while, you can see me jogging in the woods.”
Björn does this jogging without Agnetha, since she is far too happy to be able to sit down and relax when she gets the chance. The perfect movements that Anni-Frid, or Frida as she is mostly called, and Agnetha are making while singing their songs, don’t come easy to them. Every week, they are taking four to six hours of dancing and movement lessons.
“We also spend a lot of time on our clothes,” Björn sighs. “Two guys from Stockholm are creating everything for us. We come up with ideas, and obviously they often have ideas as well, that we discuss with each other.”
However, Björn and Benny spend most of their time on composing new hits. “We are working very, very hard on that. Do you know why most people are not able to compose properly? Because they don’t have any discipline! For a good composition, you need ten percent of inspiration and ninety percent of discipline. Boy, if you could only see the way that we are slaving away ever so often!”

“But you shouldn’t think that we’re always dead serious while we're working,” Björn chuckles. “We do have time for a joke every now and then. For instance, it has become a habit that our employees play some kind of trick on us on the closing night of a tour. On one of these closing nights, we came on stage unsuspectingly, grabbing the microphone with a beaming smile, to immediately let that smile pass into weird grimaces. What had happened? Those comedians had thoroughly rubbed gorgonzola cheese all over the microphones. It was a disgusting smell! It took us a great deal of effort to compose our faces again, but we saw it through until the bitter end. After all, we are a show group, aren’t we?”

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