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The Days Before
The lyrics are very explicit.
The accomplished songwriting duo of Benny Andersson and Björn Ulvaeus certainly have a few worldwide hits under their belts, but their swan song 'The Day Before You Came' was long unrecognised. Lately it's been getting attention, but it's likely 'foreigners' don't really appreciate what's going on in the lyrics.
As yours truly has enjoyed a reputation as a 'lyrics doctor' and even had some titles recorded, and also had a bit of experience with the 'Swedish psyche', I thought perhaps a few words could be in order.
Here's the video. Perky but - yes - dismal. Nothing's more Swedish than that!
The lyrics are very explicit. And, I must say as a lyricist of some experience, Björn Ulvaeus, despite English not being his native tongue, does an excellent job.
And it's more than Björn's ability to find the right words: it's also the poet in him. He's said that the portent of the lyrics - something he'd get into once the music itself was finished - is something that 'comes to him'. Björn finds themes people rarely if ever touch on.
Such is the case with 'The Day Before You Came'. For this song, in my opinion, is more exclusively Swedish than just about anything they ever released.
I remember when I and a girlfriend, who'd been shacking up for just over a year, were exiting a supermarket in early autumn and seeing the sun had already set, and I told her that this darkness that invaded the country nine months a year is nigh on unbearable.
'How is it for you', I asked. 'You were born here - you're more used to it?'
'We're never used to it', she replied. 'It hits us every year.'
Swedes live for the summer. And for the time spent down south. And - even if they're not always ready to admit it - for love.
Life becomes rote. You quite literally go through the motions. The lyrics to this song explicitly and deliberately point this out. The singer doesn't really remember what she did a day earlier - she's only going through the motions.
But when you find love - when that 'spark' happens - you suddenly come alive. Note this isn't something that happens with every one of your 'one night stands' (which can be a long never-ending list) but only when you feel that special 'spark'. It doesn't happen all the time, or necessarily that often, but you know it when it does: you're suddenly in the mindset of the singer above.
These are great lyrics. And Björn's a great lyricist. I actually ran into him on a number of occasions on Lidingö. We never met - we just ran into each other. Swedes never acknowledge celebrities they encounter - that'd be discourteous. So you make like you have no idea who they are. Björn lived not so far away, and on one occasion he was in the local 7-eleven type store, getting a litre of milk to take home to his family presumably, just another Swede going through the dismal drudgery of yet another dreary day.