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 had 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.
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). What'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).