Saturday, March 29, 2008
I don't know why, but I've been on an ABBA kick lately.
"But Joel," you might ask. "What on earth does this have to do with the overall premise of your blog -- evaluating current events, theology and culture from a Christian Reformed perspective?"
Nothing really, at least not with this particular post. When I can get to it down the road, I do want to address the subject of secular humanism, since ABBA co-founder Bjorn Ulvaeus has come out as a rather vocal spokesman for a European humanist organization. I read a recent interview with him where he expounded on the idea. Seeing some of the things he had to say about Bible-believing Christians and their supposed hostility to science left me a bit sad, because I really do love ABBA and their infectious, meticulously crafted music. But that's for another day. Right now, I want to take up the never-ending clamor for the Swedish foursome to reunite.
I'd love to see it, as would millions of others around the world. Thus far, the group -- with varying levels of reluctance -- has always refused. They even turned down a billion (a bit foggy if it's a billion kroner or a billion dollars) to reform. The reasons given puzzle me a bit, and lead me to my own bit of speculation.
Bjorn has said that they'll never do it, because "we would only dissappoint our fans." He also said it would probably be "pathetic," and that they don't look the same after 25 years.
Now why would fans be disappointed? Possible reasons could include the age factor. But look at the Rolling Stones and other groups still out on the road? Some of them look like they've been embalmed, but the ABBA foursome still look pretty good. So they're 25 years older. Aren't we all? This would be a bit vain, if that really were the underlying reason.
Another reason could be concern over musical performance. Maybe they don't have the chops after 25 years. But no. I've seen recent performances by the two female lead singers, Agnetha Faltskog and Anni-Frid (Frida) Lyngstad. Their voices are undimmed by age. Take a peek on You Tube and you'll see what I mean. Agnetha did a 2004 solo album (with videos) called "My Coloring Book." Frida has been singing with former Deep Purple keyboardist John Lord. Both sound (and look) amazing for their age.
But what about Bjorn and Benny Andersson? I haven't heard any recent performances by Bjorn, but Benny still has an active group. To be honest, I haven't heard Benny's group, as it largely performs in Europe. So whether or not they still have their chops is a question mark. Somehow, I suspect they're just fine.
So that leads us to what might be the real issue. ABBA was made up of two couples whose mutual divorces ultimately led to the group stopping active work together. They never officially disbanded. In public, they all maintain that they're good friends now. The tensions caused by the divorces have all faded with time. They have been together on various occasions such as birthdays and parties for friends, even singing a birthday song on stage at one such occasion. They reportedly rehearsed together in a bathroom before walking out on stage.
But doing brief little "hello" style things is different than reforming for a tour or an album. Most divorced couples don't socialize with their ex-spouses, with rare exceptions to the rule. Christine and John McVie from Fleetwood Mac are indeed close friends, with Christine saying they're more like "brother and sister" now. But relationships such as this between formerly married couples are a rarity. In my view, that is probably nearer to the truth than anything else.
Will they ever do it, given intense public demand? I'm not sure. I know some Swedes, and they can be pretty stubborn when they get their backs up.
For me, I love them. I love the music they made, and I have a Christian love and concern for them as individuals and for their families. Whatever happens, my prayer is that they will find healing for all the tragedies in their lives, and find final peace through saving faith in Christ.
When I next address ABBA, it will be regarding the ideas behind secular humanism, and Bjorn's public advocacy of the philosophy. Something like this is always dangerous for music entertainers. Take up religion or politics, and you alienate half of your audience.