Posts Tagged ‘Fernando’

ABBA: The Iconic Band, The Dog, & The Six Degrees of Separation

ABBA — those four letters are iconic!

Yet, for me, they have an added, special meaning.

If you follow me on social media or if you’ve regularly read my blog over the years, “ABBA” instantly makes you think of my beautiful late golden retriever.

If you’re seeing this from anywhere else across the world, the four letters, “ABBA”, instantly identifies one of biggest and the best musical acts ever!

My love of Agnetha, Anni-Frid, Benny, and Bjorn inspired me to name my dog ABBA and it’s the inspiration for today’s blog — a love letter to the foursome and a big “Thank You For The Music” and for the memories!

As I get into the meat and potatoes of today’s blog, I’ll be sharing a few personal stories that connect me to ABBA — the super group and the dog!

This was my dinner in Gothenburg, Sweden in 2017, which is where Bjorn was born and a city that played a big part in ABBA’s musical history. (Okay, that’s a slight deviation there, but I said this was going to be personal!) 🙂

ALMOST 50 YEARS ALREADY!

We’re not quite there yet, but it’s mind-boggling to think that we’re approaching the 50th anniversary of ABBA’s world domination!

They scored their first Swedish hit, “People Need Love”, in the summer of 1972 as “Björn & Benny, Agnetha & Anni-Frid”, then recorded “Ring Ring” for the 1973 Eurovision Song Contest.

But, it was winning Eurovision the next year, in 1974, with “Waterloo” that propelled ABBA to international fame!

I still listen to ABBA’s music regularly and it brings me just as much joy today as it has over my lifetime!

However, I was inspired to share my stories and my love of Agnetha, Bjorn, Benny, and Frida (Anni-Frid) after reading Carl Magnus Palm’s 2001 biography called, “Bright Lights, Dark Shadows: The Real Story of ABBA”, which sat on my bookshelf for almost two decades!

Crazy, right?

What a great read! Check it out!

Growing up in the southern United States (Kentucky) in the early-1970s, I was country when country wasn’t cool!

I was still infatuated with Tanya Tucker, while my teenage cousins (our summer baby sitters) were dancing around to the Carpenters, Olivia Newton-John, and ABBA. But, I was slowly coming around to pop music!

Somehow I acquired the 45 rpm single “SOS” and I was hooked on ABBA!

It was just two years earlier that I bought my first pop single, “Delta Dawn” by Helen Reddy, at the age of eight!

And, just as I was getting on the ABBA bandwagon as a fan, the international super group was coming undone and were calling it quits.

In the summer of 1980, they released the single, “The Winner Takes It All”.

It was the lead single from the upcoming November album, “Super Trouper”, with Agnetha singing lead.

While Bjorn says the song is about divorce and it’s fiction, he and Agnetha divorced early that year.

Yet, that wasn’t the end. The group would release what would become their last studio album, “The Visitors”, in November 1981.

The lead single in America was “When All Is Said And Done” with Frida singing lead.

Like “The history book on the shelf/Is always repeating itself”, Frida and Benny ended their relationship and divorced earlier in the year!

With both couples in ABBA divorced, new relationships pursued, and outside musical ventures already underway, there was no reason for the band to make new music together.

1990s ABBA-RENAISSANCE

While they hadn’t charted on the American singles charts since early 1983, the world would experience an ABBA-renaissance a decade later!

It started in the summer of 1992, when my favorite English pop group of the 1980s, Erasure, released “Abba-esque”.

That four-song EP featured remakes of the ABBA hits, “Lay All Your Love on Me”, “SOS”, “Take a Chance on Me”, and “Voulez-Vous”.

The duo scored an American Top 10 Dance Club Songs hit with “Take a Chance on Me”.

An ABBA revival was just getting underway and was ready to sweep the world!

After eight studio albums and countless compilation and greatest hits albums in the 1970s and 1980s, the real ABBA was ready to claim their rightful place again in music history.

“ABBA Gold: Greatest Hits”, featuring 19 of the group’s biggest hits, was released in September 1992.

It has gone on to sell more than 30 million copies worldwide making it the best-selling ABBA album ever!

In the spring of 1994, I was getting ready to make the biggest (and best) decision of my life.

I was moving from my small hometown of Mayfield, Kentucky (population around 10,000) to Chicago, the third largest city in the U.S. This move would lead to my career as a television meteorologist and it opened the world of international travel to me.

That spring, while packing to move, “ABBA Gold” was on repeat and the song I remember most vividly was “Knowing Me, Knowing You”.

THE BIG SCREEN LOVE AFFAIR WITH ABBA

After the international success of the Erasure album and “ABBA Gold”, the band’s profile would be raised even more in 1994 and 1995 with the release of two Australian dramedies — “The Adventures of Priscilla, Queen of the Desert” and “Muriel’s Wedding”.

In “Priscilla”, the movie centers around three drag queens on a cross country trip across the Australian Outback. One of the queens is obsessed with ABBA and two of them perform “Mamma Mia”.

In “Muriel’s Wedding”, socially awkward Muriel spends much of her time fantasizing about a glamorous wedding to get out of Porpoise Spit, Australia, by listening to ABBA (and 1970s music)!

Like in “Priscilla”, Muriel and her friend, Rhonda, perform an ABBA number. They choose “Waterloo”!

After seeing “Muriel’s Wedding” in 1995, I decided that my next dog would be named “ABBA”.

That became a reality in the summer of 2000, when I got my golden retriever. And, yes she was named ABBA!

October 2011

With their chart domination and stardom in the 1970s and with “ABBA Gold” and those two Australian movies in the 1990s, the world already had two chances to fall in love with iconic group.

However, the music of ABBA was getting ready to conquer another entertainment staple and a whole new audience!

ABBA 2.0 — “MAMMA MIA!”

The musical “MAMMA MIA!”, featuring a story line based around the music of ABBA, opened in London in April 1999. Almost a year later, it made its North American debut in Toronto, Ontario, Canada.

My personal connection with the musical: Before it opened on Broadway in the fall of 2001, it played at the Cadillac Palace Theatre in Chicago that summer, where I first saw it.

Since we got to the venue early, we stopped in at Dunkin’ Donuts, right around the corner. And, you’ll never guess who was standing right in front of me?

It was Louise Pitre, who was playing Donna in Chicago and would originate the role on Broadway! I so wish I had said “hello”, but I let her be!

Pitre earned a Tony nomination in 2002 in the Best Performance by an Actress in a Leading Role category!

Worldwide, since 1999, based on limited available data, ‘MAMMA MIA!”, the musical, has grossed almost $2.1 billion (yes, that’s BILLIONS)!!!

BUT, WAIT!!!!

In the summer of 2008, the movie version of “Mamma Mia!” with Meryl Streep in the lead role became an international blockbuster bringing in $615.7 million at the box office.

It spawned a successful sequel in 2018, “Mamma Mia!: Here We Go Again” ($395 million).

There’s even talk of a third movie that may feature new ABBA music!

And, before I share my ten favorite ABBA songs, I have the ultimate connection to the group as if naming your dog after them, isn’t enough. 🙂

It’s like “life imitates art” or “imitation is the sincerest form of flattery”!

In late 2016, being the planner that I am, a trip to Scandinavia was booked for August 2017 to see much of Norway, some of Sweden, and Copenhagen, Denmark (loved it)!

However, in early 2017, my ex and I decided to end our eight-year relationship, but the big down payment on the Scandinavian trip was already paid!

So, in true ABBA fashion — the band with their last two albums and us with our trip — we honored our commitment to travel together even as divorced or separated couples!

That was us in Gothenburg, Sweden.

We parted amicably with fond and beautiful memories of Norway, Sweden, and Denmark!

A LITTLE CHART HISTORY FIRST

Okay, let’s kick off the countdown with a little ABBA chart trivia.

Ironically, Australia was one of the ABBA’s biggest success stories, while the U.S. was one of their biggest disappointments! It’s no secret that the band didn’t enjoy touring and that’s vital to success in America!

On the Billboard Hot 100 chart in the United States, ABBA scored 14 Top 40 hits.

Of those, four reached the Top Ten (“Waterloo” #6, 1974; “Dancing Queen” #1, 1977; “Take a Chance on Me” #3, 1978; and “The Winner Takes It All” #8, 1980).

Shockingly, in the U.S., “Dancing Queen” was the band’s only #1 song on the Hot 100. Yet, when you add in sales and other variables, “Take a Chance on Me” was their biggest hit in America!

MY TEN FAVORITE ABBA SONGS

I narrowed this list down to 23 songs and it was so hard cutting it down to just my ten favorites!

“DANCING QUEEN”

INTERESTING TIDBIT: Original working title was “Boogaloo”!

“GIMME! GIMME! GIMME! (A MAN AFTER MIDNIGHT)”

INTERESTING TIDBIT: ABBA rarely allows artists to sample their music, but Madonna was permitted to use the instrumental introduction of this ABBA hit in her #1 2005 smash “Hung Up”!

“SUPER TROUPER”

“TAKE A CHANCE ON ME”

“WHEN ALL IS SAID AND DONE”

“FERNANDO”

INTERESTING TIDBIT: Originally recorded for a Frida solo album!

INTERESTING TIDBIT #2: Spent a record setting 14 weeks at #1 in Australia!

“KNOWING ME, KNOWING YOU”

“WATERLOO”

INTERESTING TIDBIT: Original working title was “Tango”!

FROM “MURIEL’S WEDDING”

“MAMMA MIA”

FROM “THE ADVENTURES OF PRISCILLA, QUEEN OF THE DESERT”

“SOS”

INTERESTING TIDBIT: Considered as Agnetha’s first “heartbreak classic”!

INTERESTING TIDBIT #2: I still think Pierce Bronson should be sued for slaughtering (not slaying) the song in the “Mamma Mia!” movie! 😦 🙂

Now that you know my favorite ABBA songs and my history with the band, I have one more confession to make… as a teenager, I had the biggest crush on Benny!

Thank you for taking the time to ready my love letter to ABBA. What are you favorite ABBA songs or memories?

THAT’S IT

With all the craziness in the world, make it the best in your little part of it!

Anthony

Random Friday Thoughts — July 4, 2014

Happy Independence Day!  To those that got a divorce from that loser on this day, I’m happy you’ve declared your independence.  What?  Oh, the country’s independence from Great Britain.  Well, that’s certainly different!

I hope you have fun with your fireworks, your barbeques, or whatever you do to celebrate our country’s 238th birthday!

It’s going to be a nice one in the Quad Cities.

4th

“Fernando” by ABBA is the song that I remember most about the Fourth of July as a kid.

While “Fernando” only reached #13 on the Billboard Hot 100, it hit #1 for two weeks on the Billboard Adult Contemporary chart and would become ABBA’s best-selling single of all time selling more six million copies in 1976 alone!

WORST FOURTH OF JULY

With more than five inches of rain this past Monday night in the Quad Cities, luckily I was inside the house helping Ray fight basement flooding before the electricity went out for about ten hours.

While that wasn’t on Independence Day, my worst Fourth of July was back in 2007.  I was caught in a flash flooding event around 2 a.m. after more than four inches of rain in a very short period of time flooded out my car on 19th Avenue in Moline.

FloodingBSticker3flat

Here are the scary details and I was one of the lucky ones to survive!

https://anthonypeoples.wordpress.com/2012/07/04/my-favorite-least-favorite-fourth-of-julys/

MOST “INCOMPARABLE” GAY NEIGHBORHOOD

Forget San Francisco, Hollywood, Barcelona, and Madrid, Chicago’s “Boystown” has them beat!

I’ve lived in some shady places in life, but now I can say that I spent three of my four years in Chicago living in “Out Traveler” readers’ most “incomparable” neighborhoods.

While it’ll show up as Lakeview on maps, anyone that is anyone knows that the club area near Lake Michigan between Lincoln Park to the south and Uptown to the north is “Boystown”.

I lived there for a year in 1995-1996 (Addison and Lake Shore Drive) and from 2002-2004 (Belmont and Sheridan).   Miss ABBA and I spent a lot of time in her “puppy years”  playing around Belmont Harbor.

2014 Brackets 001

“Out Traveler” says that Boystown “was the nation’s first officially-designated gayborhood” and that it has “everything you could want: bars, clubs, restaurants, architecture, walkability, its own El stop”  and now, marriage equality.

PLEASE DON’T “WIGGLE” FOR ME!

I just heard Jason Derulo’s current hit, “Wiggle”, for the first time today and I hope that I never hear it again!

Sample lyrics:  “You know what to do with that big fat butt/Wiggle, wiggle, wiggle” and “Hot damn it/Your booty like two planets/Go head, and go ham sammich”.  Ugggghhhh!

Jason+Derulo+JasonDeruloCoverTCC

I loved Jason Derulo’s self-titled 2010 album and it ended up being one of my favorite albums of that year.  It produced three Top Ten hits on the Billboard Hot 100;  “Whatcha Say” (#1), “In My Head” (#5), and “Ridin’ Solo” (#9).

Jason, go back to real music and not trashy, gimmicky songs that you’ll regret having to sing the rest of your career!

MEETING PAM TILLIS & LORRIE MORGAN

A couple of Friday nights ago, Ray and I got a chance to see the “Grits & Glamour Tour” with Pam Tillis and Lorrie Morgan in Clinton, Iowa.  And, we lucked out and got to meet both ladies before the show.

Anthony, Pam, & Lorrie

We’ve seen them both in concert before separately.  On this tour, they performed together and it’s an amazing show.

It’s just sad that country radio is so ageist and sexist that it won’t play new music by women over the age of 40.  You think I’m wrong?  Think of radio’s reception to the latest recordings by Reba McEntire, Patty Loveless, Martina McBride, Pam Tillis, Lorrie Morgan, and Faith Hill.  And, before them, Dolly Parton, Loretta Lynn, Tammy Wynette, and the list goes on and on!

While you may have missed that show, Lonestar and Sara Evans will be at the Wild Rose Casino in Clinton on Friday, July 11th.

“GLORIA”

This Chilean drama is one of the best movies I’ve seen in the past few years.

Paulina Garcia plays Gloria, a 58-year-old divorcee that has to face the single life now that her two children are grown and have moved out.  However, Gloria doesn’t spend her life at home feeling sorry for herself.

Watching the movie and seeing Gloria out drinking and meeting men that could possibly be “the one”, I was so impressed with her strength and determination.  I spent the first part of my 40s alone with just me and my golden retriever, ABBA, wondering if we’d ever meet “the one”.  Like Gloria, there were many empty dates and hook-ups, but I found love again.

I just couldn’t imagine doing it in my late-50s or 60s!!!

Garcia’s heartbreaking performance was amazing and she made me wish that Gloria was my friend.  The role won Garcia the Silver Bear Award for Best Actress at the 63rd Annual Berlin International Film Festival.

When it was in theaters earlier this year, it made $2.1 million in the United States.  You can rent it at Redbox.

GRADE:  A

REMEMBERING LAURA BRANIGAN

Hearing a much different version of “Gloria” in that movie got me thinking of Laura Branigan.

It’s been almost ten years now since the singer died of a brain aneurysm at her home on August 26, 2004.

From 1982-1987, she placed seven Top 40 hits on the Billboard Hot 100.  Of those, three reached the top ten:  her first hit, the Grammy Award-nominated, “Gloria” (#2, 1982), “Solitaire” (#7, 1983), and “Self Control” (#4, 1984).

While “Gloria” peaked at #2 on the Hot 100, it topped the Cash Box singles chart in the United States in November 1982.  It also hit #1 in Canada and spent seven weeks at the top of the chart in Australia in early 1983.

MADONNA’S GETTING CLOSE!

I’m only speculating based on recent Instagram posts, but I really think Madonna is getting close to dropping her follow-up to 2012’s “MDNA” album.

She has posted that she’s been working with EDM producer/disc jockey Avicii (who also remixed “Girl Gone Wild”), Natalia Kills, and Diplo.

Diplo tells “Rolling Stone” about Madonna, “I’ve done about three weeks with her, and we’re gonna do some more projects at the end of July. She’s just really cool. I think as far as artists reinventing themselves, she did it before anybody else. She kind of began that trend of actually coming back with a whole new look and style and sound and winning it and hitting the top of the charts. Those records are gonna be crazy-sounding. We really pushed the envelope with some of the stuff we were doing.”

And, just this week, she posted this teaser:

Madonna Messiah

There’s also been rumors that the English electronic duo, Disclosure, is also working on the album.  While they deny it, they say they’d love to work with her.

And, if that collaboration would sound anything like their current #11 hit on the Billboard Hot 100 with Sam Smith, I sure hope they do something with Madonna since I love the song and the video!

Something tells me she’s going to silently drop the new album this fall or by the end of the year like Beyonce did last December!

“I’M A LITTLE BIT COUNTRY”

I saw Martina McBride in concert 2001 as part of Reba McEntire’s “Girls Night Out” Tour in Darien Lake, New York.  What a big voice from such a small woman!

Since blasting onto the country scene in 1992, she’s scored 42 hits on the Billboard Country chart.  Of those, 20 reached the Top Ten and five topped the chart:  “Wild Angels” (1996, one week), “A Broken Wing” (1998, one week), “Wrong Again” (1998, one week), “I Love You” (1999, five weeks), and “Blessed” (2002, two weeks).

“I Love You” was also featured in the Richard Gere and Julia Roberts movie, “Runaway Bride” and it’s her biggest crossover hit, peaking at #24 on the Billboard Hot 100.

I couldn’t find it, but luckily, my friend, Christopher found the official video to “Independence Day” for me.  It’s one of the most powerful songs ever released in any genre.

Because domestic abuse is a heavy subject matter, the song only reached #12 on the Billboard country chart in 1994, but it did win Country Music Association Awards for “Song of the Year” and “Video of the Year” and was nominated for two Grammy Awards.

THAT’S IT

Have a great Fourth of July weekend and thank you for checking out my random thoughts.

Anthony