Silence ever after
Walking through an empty house, tears in my eyes
Here is where the story ends, this is goodbye
Knowing Me Knowing You, ABBA, 1978
Its well known that Joy Division’s Love Will Tear Us Apart (see post below) was written about the collapse of Ian Curtis’s marriage as he fell in love with a new girlfriend. His wife, Deborah wrote a great book about these events; its perhaps the most un-rock’n'roll, rock book ever written – attacking and collapsing the central r’n'r myths of all boys in the band together comraderie, and what happens on tour stays on tour fun.
“I remember when I was expecting Natalie and standing at the door of the Factory, and Tony looking me up and down and it was written all over his face what he was thinking: how can we have a rock star with a six months pregnant wife standing by the stage? It wasn’t quite the thing. Then this glamorous Belgian turned up. I don’t remember seeing her, except in the cemetery once. She was attractive and she was free, and she had a nice accent. I don’t blame Ian. I think most people need a partner, and if you exclude that partner you have to find somebody else. It’s only natural. He must have been very lonely.
He needed somebody there to look after him, he couldn’t look after himself. He wasn’t a grown-up”.
Euro-pop titans ABBA were made up of two married couples. As the years went by and those marriages cracked and eventually collapsed there was plenty of scope for relationship traumas to seep into their music…
It feels appropriate that you have to watch a crappy advert before getting to the song – its part of the aesthetic. The power of ABBA is that beneath the jaunty music, sateen costumes, balloons, Benny mugging like a kids tv presenter, and English as a second language lyrics there is often a real longing, sadness, loneliness and darkness.
There can’t be many pop groups whose fans create threads like this -ABBA’s most depressing songs. The title of this post is a lyric from the incredibly downbeat The Day Before You Came. Other examples include…
One of us is lying / In her lonely bed / Staring at the ceiling / Wishing she was somewhere else instead
I don’t wanna talk / If it makes you feel sad / And I understand / You’ve come to shake my hand / I apologize / If it makes you feel bad / Seeing me so tense / No self-confidence / But you see / The winner takes it all
Strange how dangerously indifferent I have grown / Cold as a stone