The laws of chance, strange as it seems,
Take us exactly where we most likely need to be
[David Byrne]

quinta-feira, 26 de outubro de 2006

The Day Before You Came (1)

    I have never, ever, been an ABBA fan. Since I was a teenager I’ve always been into English new-wave and electropop (Depeche Mode, Yazoo, Ultravox, New Order...) or indie rock (David Sylvian, The Cure and, above all, The Smiths: up until now I can’t really tell the difference between the singer Morrissey and God). In music stores, my idols have always been in the “Alternative” section.

    So it almost comes as a shock to myself to admit that my favorite song lyrics of all time come from an ABBA song. It’s not even one of their more popular tracks. It is called “The Day Before You Came” and it is actually the very last song that the four Swedes recorded together. At the time of its release, it sold very poorly (for Abba standards). Later on, it was not even included in the famous “ABBA Gold” collection, although it was their musical testament.

    The song is about the average day of an ordinary person. It is nothing more that a list of actions (“I must have read the morning paper going into town... I must have made my desk around a quarter after nine with letters to be read and heaps of paper waiting to be signed… I must have gone to lunch at half past twelve or so…”). You hear ¾ of the song and you think these are the most dull and depressing lyrics ever used in a pop song. And then, right at the end, the miracle happens as the blond singer Agnetha declares: “It’s funny, but I had no sense of living without aim, the day before you came.”

    Suddenly it all makes sense: boring lyrics represent a boring, pathetic life, until it is saved by love.

    It’s a love song in which the word “love” is not even quoted (and that’s already a rarity).

    The musical picture of a life caught in the moment right before sentiment steps in.

    To underline the great power of love, ABBA in their last song chose to sing about its absence.

    Now, this is literary genius to me. The real azimuth of a career.