The lyrics of ABBA’s lyrics are marvellous. They express exactly the emotional feeling of the music. For ABBA those lyrics are not merely words that enable the singing, they express something essential, it’s a form of art. Music is about emotions and can express all kinds of emotions. It’s important for the lyrics to come as close to the music as possible, as if it were that the lyrics and the music were conceived at the same time. Try for one time not to listen to the words and feel the music. What pops up in your mind? Read the words without hearing the music. What feeling do you sense? The smart thing is those two things are the same. Let’s take the experiment with the following text.
I was up with the mornin' sun
Couldn't sleep so I thought I'd take a walk
I was thinkin' of you and me
And I went to your house 'cos I had to talk
Björn was a master in fluently coming up with new lyrics. The moment a melody occured, he had words for the first try-out. The final version required an almost endless touching up for improvement, until he had found the words that exactly fitted his intention. Numerous trials ended in the trash can. His perfectionism accomplished lyrics that mirrored the atmosphere of the music exactly. Good examples are Fernando and The Visitors. But he went further than the general atmosphere of the music, even on a detailed level the lyrics meet the music. When the music swells out, the words are getting heavier as well. Compare for an example the verse and the chorus of The Visitors. The chorus depicts threat. The atmosphere of both the music and the lyrics are changing simultaneously (‘Crackin’ up’). This is a parallellism that occurs in many songs. The fragment quoted above is about a boy, the words are lazy and so is the music. After the second verse the boy gets angry!
Baby, how could you DO it
You just told me lies
This goes perfectly synchronously with the music. The music bursts out and the word “do” comes on the first beat, with an emphasis, sung exactly the way you would cry out the words if spoken. Everything is in line, the lyrics and the music are like two jigsaw pieces that fit in only one way. ABBA lyrics are not just words, they are word perfect.
Of course there is more to tell about the music of ABBA. The next article will appear at september the 1-st 2014, midnight (Stockholm time).
© 2014 Reinhard Beskers