Tuesday, May 12, 2009

The Day Before You Came

I'm a huge ABBA fan. My first memories of the band date back to when I was about ten or eleven, going on holiday with my parents, two brothers and sister, driving up all the way to the Kruger National Park, with my dad periodically popping in their The Singles tape. Sweden's greatest export filling the kombi as the Karoo whisked past outside.

Picking a favourite song is hard, but The Day Before You Came always just edges out above the others. Purportedly the last song ABBA ever recorded, and legend has it that Agnetha sang the lyric track in the studio with the lights off; everyone apparently knew "this was the end". So I guess that's why I like it.
It's somber and sad.

Traditionally supposed to be a song about the routine life of a woman before she met the love of her life, or alternatively, looking back at her life after her lover has left and gone.


I have always found the alternatively speculated meaning much more interesting; that the lyrics are in fact about the last day in the life of the speaker before her death, and that the "you" in question is the Grim Reaper. It's funny how many good songs become really good poems when you remove the musical background; not that they're not when you don't, it's just looking at it from a different perspective, a different context.

I find the second to last lyric the most poignant of all:

"And rattling on the roof I must have heard the sound of rain"

Having sat through several poetry classes at university I can tell you that you can throw several books at that one line alone and it will keep you busy for a while.

Of course, the simple fact that it was the last song ABBA ever recorded is poignant enough. In that sense, it's about the death of a life already.

The Day Before You Came
- ABBA (Lyrics)


Jeanne said...

Hi Lynne
I'm also a music lover and a musician.
And I like ABBA!
What is really effective about these lyrics is how very mundane they are. Everyday activities and now these things are gone.
An ordinary day and then...
nice choice!

Lynne Jamneck said...

Yea, I know. The absolute mundane nature of life, but taken in this context, it's even those mundane things we should treasure because they could be gone so quickly.

Anonymous said...

Great post, this song is so underrated it's unbelieavable.

Michael Taylor said...

I love this song. An old mate of mine recorded it for his band - a British synth pop band called Blancmange.

I think it is about cancer.

Lynne Jamneck said...

Michael - I remember Blancmange :) But I haven't heard their version, will have to look it up.