You are sending a link to...
Hugh Fitzgerald writes below:
It is the Arrival, and not the Journey, that matters.
Was he thinking of Abba? Unlikely from the context, but you never know, especially as “Arrival” has an initial capital. When I read the final sentence of Hugh’s post, I immediately thought of Abba, cheered up, and forgot all about Sharia law and the impending Islamisation of Europe.
"Arrival" is, of course, the title of an Abba song and of their best album. As well as the wistful title track, there is “When I kissed the teacher” – move over, Nabokov – “Dancing Queen”, “Fernando”, “Money, Money, Money” and my favourite, “Knowing Me, Knowing You”, with its laughter-through-tears “A- ha-a”. Most albums have a dud track, and Arrival is no exception. A reviewer on Amazon tries to praise “Dum Dum Diddle”, but so faintly as to damn it:
I've never heard a song about someone's violin practicing paying off and wishing for the same kind of attention to the point that the girl wished she was the fiddle so she'd be noticeable. That about sums it up for "Dum Dum Diddle." The synths here somewhat mimic the fiddle, but not that much.
Arrival is also the name of an Abba tribute band, described by none other than the Stoke-on-Trent Police Force as “like a beacon in the fog of tribute acts”. But the best and most famous Abba tribute band is Bjorn Again:
Originally from Australia, this tribute band – technically a franchise, but let’s not get boring – has lasted longer than Abba itself. I have seem them three times at open air picnic concerts, twice at Kenwood and once at Audley End. Everyone, young and old, gets up to dance, even when it rains. It rained on Saturday through “One of Us” and “Winner Takes it All”. Thousands of umbrellas bobbing up and down defied the elements.
It is now cool to like Abba, provided you like them in an ironic way. I have never been cool, except purely by accident, rather as a broken clock tells the right time twice a day. Unless “uncool” becomes “the new cool”, which is not impossible, I am unlikely to be cool in the foreseeable future. You see, I don’t like Abba in an ironic way; I just like them. I laugh at them too, agreeing wholeheartedly with Hugo Rifkind when he says:
Two things immediately strike you when you pay close attention to the lyrics of an Abba song. One, they are drivel. Two, you don’t know them nearly as well as you thought you did. However many times you’ve wailed along to it in a nightclub, you still probably don’t know where to put “my, my” or “why, why” in Mamma Mia. That rousing bit in the middle begins “Yes, I was broken-hearted,” not “Years”. And it’s no use looking for hints in the general narrative of the song because they’re all written in such crazy, half-baked Scanglish that, invariably, there isn’t one. Who crosses a stream because they have a dream? Why would a dancing queen have a tambourine? And who the hell was Fernando? Dance captain Tim Stanley takes over, post-lunch, and tells us that they had these problems even in the professional show. Originally, they were beginning the chorus to Waterloo with the familiar line — “How did it feel when you won the war?” It took the personal intervention of Bjorn, or possibly Benny, before they realised that it ought to be “I was defeated, you won the war”. Hard to spot, what with it being nonsense either way.
True, of course, but the Scanglish gives the songs an innocent poignancy that they would not have if the band came from Luton. We English tolerate and enjoy the simplicity of the songs because the band is Swedish – or Australian pretending to be Swedish – and the Swedes are a bit of a joke to us:
Swedish man goes into a chemist: “I want to buy a deodorant.”
Chemist: “Ball or aerosol?”
Swedish man: “Neither. I want it for my aerumpits.”
I wonder if they make jokes about us, and, if so, whether they are as good as that one.
Long live Bjorn Again, and through them Abba. Thank you for the music.