Tuesday, July 22, 2008

Long Live ABBA!

I have long had a love for ABBA. I will never be ashamed of it, I will never regret it. It's something my sisters and I all grew up listening to, singing along to, dancing all over the room to. Most kids would listen to kiddy songs and artists growing up - we had ABBA, the Beach Boys, and Peter, Paul, and Mary. The two cassette tapes that would always be in the car for commuting to elementary school were ABBA - The Album (which ABBA - The Albumhad a very scary cover to me), and Voulez-Vous.

Our tastes have always been pretty eclectic, but my family has always loved music, and we would often put on tapes, CDs, and records in the family room or upstairs in our room, blast the stereo, and dance and sing as loud and crazily as we could. That was pure release, something I rarely allow myself or even feel comfortable doing anymore. However, ABBA is still a staple in my car, and will always be my music to crank up and sing at the top of my lungs to. ABBA lifts my spirits if I'm tired or depressed or angry. When I'm happy and giddy, they help me celebrate and maintain that feeling. They will always take me back to a time of innocence and purity, a time when I could turn off whatever other people were thinking about me, whatever else is going on in my life, and just have the music.

classic ABBA outfits

I can't pick one favorite song. There really are so many. When ABBA Gold came out, my sisters and I knew all the words to every single song on that album - and we were disappointed that certain songs didn't make the cut. But some classics we all love? "Does Your Mother Know", "Take A Chance on Me", "Chiquitita", "Super Trouper". Some lesser-known, but personal favorites? "Kisses of Fire" (as a kid, I knew nothing of the passion they sang about, but the idea of kisses and fire together, as a good thing? I was sold. I think my obsession with fire started pretty early.), "People Need Love", "Nina the Pretty Ballerina" (the step-sister to Dancing Queen, although Nina has her own charm and appeal), "Happy Hawaii". And a dating-gone-wrong favorite - "Gimme Gimme Gimme (A Man After Midnight)". Really, I feel like I've left out so many that I love, but otherwise it would be a very long list.

This weekend my youngest sister (there are four of us all together, and my poor father never got a boy) drove down for a visit from Tahoe. She's moved up there and works year-round at one of the ski resorts. Especially with these crazy gas prices, it's hard for her to come down as often as we'd all like, but she manages to make it down every few months or so. Her birthday is mid-June, and we hadn't gotten to celebrate it with her, so we took this weekend to do so with a little family party, topped off by an impromptu trip with us 4 girls and my mom to see Mamma Mia. It was the best way to see that movie, and of course we had to listen to ABBA in the car on the ride back to my mom's, as well as our respective car rides to our homes. Like I said, there's nothing better to keep you awake and happy than blasting ABBA and singing along at the top of your lungs. It's one of the few times I wish my ride was longer than 40 minutes!

I also discovered that my youngest sister has a few DVDs and an extrememly large collection of ABBA CDs. We're so proud! We worried for awhile that she would pick up bad music habits since she's "so much younger" (6 years younger than me). She's done us proud in that respect, many times over. She laughed at me when I couldn't remember the name of the other male in the group (Bjorn and Benny - Benny's the one I forgot). And I had no idea what the women's names were. I'm so embarrassed (Frida - short for Anni-Frid - and Agnetha). Did I mention that we loved the Swedish connection as well? Yes, we've got Scandanavian running in our blood (one day I'll write about ebelskievers and how they've now been reduced to donut puffs on infomercials); we're proud of our Viking heritage.

I digress (it doesn't take much, and it's late). Mamma Mia CDWhat's my point again? Well, if you don't have any ABBA, get some - for those cases of emergency, or just to dance around the house. And the movie? Well, what I love about it is that they maintain the joy and fun of the songs really well. I mean, Bjorn and Benny know what they're doing - and they were a major part of the musical as well as the movie. So yes, go see it with friends you can sing with, or by yourself and sing and dance as much as you want. If you have the opportunity, though, go see the musical. Because there is nothing like having that experience of an orchestra playing those fabulous songs, and live people singing them in front of you. Plus, the performances at the end where the audience gets to dance and sing along -well, it's all worth it. And the story really is fun and endearing (talk about being a little weepy)... And if you know the songs, it's so interesting to see how they've kept almost all the same words and made them work for the story. There's no way you can come out of the performance or the movie in a bad mood. (And for the record, I was prepared to be disappointed by the singing in the movie, and overall it was much better than I expected. But I'll take the original songs any day).

I'm not sure I've relayed the joy and importance that ABBA is in my life and with my connection to my sisters. But know that you can't discard that as one of those 70's disco bands, or just a passing phase. I'm sure it's not for everyone. It doesn't have to be. But it sure is for me. I'm so happy they're having so much success and recognition for their music. And for those fans, here's the official site (warning - this site does automatically play music).


Clau said...

Awesome. You should always make the time to dance wildly around your room with no inhibitions. I did it the other day, in front of a mirror, and died laughing. I suck!

Anyway, I had similar thoughts about music and what it means to me/makes me feel. Except for me it was about Bruce Springsteen. Now, I don't have the history of having him be a part of my childhood memories (that would all belong to Rick Springfield), but he's been there providing the soundtrack for my early adult years.

This deserves it's own post very soon.

vivzan said...

hahahaha, ABBA. The group people love to hate. I never really understood why though, since they're such a happy group and the emotion behind their music seems authentic.

I love "Chiquitita." I used to play that song and do this whole dance routine for my parents. You know the ending to that song? That was my favorite part and I would leap around all over. They used to play it and ask me to dance to it.

I should download some ABBA!

Chelc said...

Clau - Isn't it funny that our posts go in cycles? I hadn't planned on blogging about dancing, it just came out! If I decide to dance around crazily, there is no way I'm doing it in front of a mirror! I'm just not that brave - it would be more about letting go, and not judging myself. That's the hard part.

I have a special relationship with Bruce songs as well, but it's very different and didn't really start until I moved out to Brooklyn/NJ. That definitely deserves its own post!

Viv - I don't know why so many people hate on ABBA, but I'm fine with that - because I have my own special relationship, obviously! My sisters and I would totally come up with dance routines to songs and perform them for our parents - that's awesome you have that memory! So cute that your parents would ask you to perform it for them! ABBA love! I'm obviously a child of the 70's!

Anonymous said...

I got so excited reading this post. It's so great to read the words of a fellow ABBA fan. I had barely listened to ABBA at all until about a year ago, but suddenly I was hooked. I admit it's partly just Scandinavian pride. But there's also something special about ABBA. They made me give the 70's a chance.


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