A single line | 27 July 2004
Is ABBA timeless? Or does it have a specific timestamp? You could answer both questions with a definitive YES. It's timeless because the music still has the power to attract a lot of people to buy the ABBA CDs. But there's also a distinctive timestamp in ABBA's music. Some recordings carry some true time weight.
From glamrock to disco, you can pretty much hear when the ABBA records were made. Two albums in particular are very good examples: Voulez-Vous and Super Trouper. In 1979 B&B obviously felt the urge to be hipper than hip or at least the didn't want to be "boring …". So when the recorded Voulez-Vous they added a bit of disco-flavour to the production.
And in 1980, when the synthesizer "ruled", B&B also used that when recording the Super Trouper LP. Listen to the vocoder in On And On And On and in Me And I. And also the sound effects in Lay All Your Love On Me are sooooo 1980.
The dark album The Visitors also had strong time related themes, but the ultimate example of not being timeless is ABBA's very last recording: The Day Before You Came could have been a marvellous example of pure timeless music, but there's one single line that ruins it. That line is "There's not a single episode of Dallas that I didn't see". It dates the song perfectly.
From the early release in 1982 I kept on wondering why Björn used that sentence in particular. He could have known that Dallas would be associated with that era. So why didn't he come up with a more timeless line. Like "There's not a single Nine O'Clock News that I didn't see" or something. But then better of course.
I challenge everybody come up with a line that fits perfectly in The Day Before You Came both rhythmically and in rime. But without the defining time element. That new line should be in the official lyric from now on.
I still haven't succeeded in creating a new line. But then, I've only started thinking about it 22 years ago