Five working titles which thankfully got changed...
Throughout their career, Abba were always regarded as being a bit
in certain quarters of the music industry. Finally, by the summer
of '75 they developed a groovy little number, based on George McRae's
'Rock Your Baby'. Unfortunately, 'Boogaloo' wasn't exactly the coolest
name for their latest oeuvre. With it's pounding disco beat and
chord changes that could melt the coldest heart, the band's lyricist
Bjorn felt sure that this new song would enrapture dancing queens
the world over. If only he could think of a better title...
Having failed to pass the Swedish heats for Eurovision the previous
year, Bjorn & Benny reckoned that this stomping rock tune would
take them that crucial step further in 1974. The only problem was
the lyrics, which Abba's manager Stig Anderson had plucked from
a cookery book. This was in the days before Delia Smith had mesmerised
the nation with her culinary expertise and the band realised that
their dessert-flavoured ditty was unlikely to capture the Euro audience.
The words were hastily rewritten to compare a romance with Napoleon's
defeat at Waterloo. And as we all know, Abba met their destiny in
quite a similar way. Oh yeah!
Inspiration for the final lyrics to this song came when Bjorn was
out jogging (a pastime prompted after splitting his costume during
Eurovision). "I started with a combination of consonant
sounds going round in my head," says Bjorn in 'The Complete
Recording Sessions'. "'t-k-ch, t-k-ch', which I felt were
really rhythmic and sounded great. Then I had to find words that
contained those sounds, and eventually I landed on 'take a chance'
and simply added 'on me' to that" Bravo! Award a No.1 single
to the man in the platform boots!
AND GONE AND DONE IT
In 1979, Abba set to work on a new track to be included on their
second greatest hits compilation. Bjorn explains the original title
in 'The Complete Recording Sessions': "It's an old expression
that means you have got married. It was a nice idea, but in the
end I thought it was a bit too old fashioned." Several
rewrites later, the band settled on more catchy, if slightly long,
title of 'Gimme! Gimme! Gimme! (A Man After Midnight)' and a generation
of young men were warmed by the thought of a lusty Agnetha pounding
the streets in search of love.
STORY OF MY LIFE
Ok, not really a bad title, but considering that this rather metrical
sounding disco track had a lead vocal by Bjorn sung in French, we
can only thank our lucky stars that the band re-recorded it as 'The
Winner Takes It All'. "I was drunk," says Bjorn
in 'Bright Lights, Dark Shadows'. "The whole lyric came
to me in a rush of emotion in one hour." But he stresses
that although it's a slightly autobiographical song, it shouldn't
be taken too literally. "Neither Agnetha nor I were winners
in our divorce." But the song remains proof that from every
bad situation, great things can happen.