Analysis: ABBA The Day Before You Came

Discussion in 'Music Corner' started by AFOS, Jan 13, 2018.

  1. AFOS

    AFOS Forum Resident Thread Starter

    Location:
    Brisbane,Australia
    I have always thought this song was about a woman recounting her typical mind numbing day before she met her soul mate. But having looked at some other interpretations it seems some think the meaning of this song is much darker. For example some think she has now broken up with her lover and is looking back on how her life was and now is again. They point not to the lyrics but the dark foreboding music that seems to suggest anything but a happy present. Thoughts?

    Anyone that thinks ABBA are all upbeat pop songs should listen to this one.

     
    Eska68, tin ears and Jarleboy like this.
  2. beccabear67

    beccabear67 Musical Omnivore

    Location:
    Victoria, Canada
    It does sound ominous. I think it could be about Agnetha Faltskog's weird stalker. :cry:
     
    FloydMaui and Jarleboy like this.
  3. adm62

    adm62 Forum Resident

    Location:
    Toronto, Canada
    Bizarre, was thinking about this song today. I always thought it was simply what you described in your first sentence. Open to hearing other interpretations though.
     
    Jarleboy likes this.
  4. AFOS

    AFOS Forum Resident Thread Starter

    Location:
    Brisbane,Australia
    Think that was in the 90's. I'm thinking it could be another song about the break down of her marriage with Bjorn. A lot of their sadder songs seem to come from that. "Winner Takes It All" and "Knowing Me Knowing You" a couple of others
     
    Jarleboy likes this.
  5. flaxton

    flaxton Forum Resident

    Location:
    Uk
    Would her husband write a song about her stalker.
     
  6. willy

    willy hooga hagga hooga

    And stalkers don't come much weirder than he, ol' bucket boy... :yikes:
     
  7. Ivan

    Ivan Forum Resident

    Location:
    Perth, Australia
    Knowing Me, Knowing You pre-dates A&B's divorce, but you're correct about The Winner Takes It All.
     
    AFOS and Jarleboy like this.
  8. I'm not sure The Day Before You Came could possibly be about Agnetha's stalker, since I recall it once being mentioned in a documentary that he didn't enter the picture until the mid-1990s. Another theory regarding this song is that it's an account of a woman's final hours before she meets and is subsequently killed by someone, with Frida's wordless vocals representing her spirit leaving. Taking this idea further, you could even argue that it was symbolic of the group coming to an end, though I'm again not convinced - the track was just one of several being worked on for a planned follow-up to The Visitors rather than an intentional standalone closing statement, though I have to agree that their work took a sudden turn to the dark and theatrical around the time both couples separated (which may have been due to Benny and Björn already planning Chess, where they'd recycle various later era ABBA outtakes, including Just Like That). For example, while its lyrics are very much based in Greek mythology, Cassandra is another uncharacteristically bleak example from the same unfinished project...
     
    crispi, tin ears, CBS 65780 and 3 others like this.
  9. Jarleboy

    Jarleboy Forum Resident

    Location:
    Norway
    No matter what the correct interpretation of the lyrics might be, it´s one of their best ever songs. In fact, along with "S.O.S.", it´s my all-time favourite ABBA song.
     
    John Adam, Carlox, Mark B. and 6 others like this.
  10. Sytze

    Sytze Forum Resident

    In December last year Benny was interviewed for Dutch tv. He said that a) nobody could or wanted to write lyrics except for Bjorn, who happened to be good at it, b) all of their lyrics were not about their own relationships (!) and c) most ABBA songs have some melancholy, even the happier ones...
     
  11. Mr_Vinyl

    Mr_Vinyl Forum Resident

    The Day Before You Came, happens to be one of my favourites of theirs. It is very dark and haunting like some of you have mentioned. The lyrics just flow from one line to another - probably their best one at that. Lyrically, I like to compare it with the Fab's She's Leaving Home - in that they both describe vividly a sequence of events in chronological order.
     
    Last edited: Jan 14, 2018
    AFOS, Jarleboy and johnsiddique like this.
  12. Mr_Vinyl

    Mr_Vinyl Forum Resident

    Agreed. I made a compilation for a girlfriend once and mentioned to her, ''It's funny, even in their happy or tacky songs, there's always something sad about them.''
     
    Sytze and Jarleboy like this.
  13. When In Rome

    When In Rome It's far from being all over...

    Location:
    UK
    I like to think it's 'about a woman recounting her typical mind numbing day before she met her soul mate' as you say...
     
    Gasman1003, AFOS and Jarleboy like this.
  14. LarsO

    LarsO Forum Resident

    I always heard a longer story between the lines and assumed the song was about The Day Before You Came, before we fell in love and before I knew you would tear my heart apart all these years after. It is like she returned to the life she had that day but now with the heartbreak added. Just how I have always heard it.
     
  15. Kiss73

    Kiss73 Forum Resident

    Location:
    Scotland
    One of my favourite ABBA songs. Real simple effective story telling.

    Steve Hogarth (Marillion) frequently does a (fabulous) version of this in his live shows
     
  16. No Bull

    No Bull Forum Resident

    I always thought the song was about how empty her life was before her lover came along... and how empty it is now that he is gone.

    This is a great song. It points the direction ABBA could have gone..had they soldiered on.
     
    mtvgeneration and Jarleboy like this.
  17. MLutthans

    MLutthans That's my spaghetti, Chewbacca! Staff

    Location:
    Marysville, WA
    .....that nobody seems to really understand! :laugh:
     
    crispi and Jarleboy like this.
  18. Bobby Morrow

    Bobby Morrow Forum Resident

    Under Attack was the one written about her stalker.:D

    I agree with others here and say that TDBYC is about how great her life was and now isn’t She’s reflecting on the moment her life changed for the better. The song is too glum sounding to be a simple, happy one.:)

    Then again, ABBA’s lyrics could be difficult to interpret... Does Dum Dum Diddle have a deeper, darker meaning, I ask myself?
     
    FloydMaui, beccabear67 and Jarleboy like this.
  19. Jarleboy

    Jarleboy Forum Resident

    Location:
    Norway
    That one and "BANG-A-BOOMERANG" are the ones that definitely do not warrant any deeper thinking. (And the latter is one of the few really happy ABBA songs, and I like it and its video.)
     
    Last edited: Jan 14, 2018
    Bobby Morrow likes this.
  20. motownboy

    motownboy Forum Resident

    Location:
    Washington State
    Yes, I agree. You added the missing piece of the interpretation of the song by saying "how empty her life was before her lover came along... and how empty it is now that he is gone." That last part seems like the missing piece that the lyrics don't spell out but the interpretation by Agnetha conveys.
    .
     
    Last edited: Jan 14, 2018
    No Bull and Jarleboy like this.
  21. The Hole Got Fixed

    The Hole Got Fixed Owens, Poell, Saberi

    Location:
    Toronto
    Simple she killed her lover. In the time that's missing between leaving work and arriving home.
     
    FloydMaui likes this.
  22. 'Tis a masterpiece. One of B&B's finest
     
    tin ears and Jarleboy like this.
  23. AFOS

    AFOS Forum Resident Thread Starter

    Location:
    Brisbane,Australia
    I'd like to think that too but sadly I don't think it is

    I think this interpretation is probably right. She is reflecting on her life before she knew love and how it is again - but this time she knows what she is missing

    Nina Pretty Ballerina is a pretty happy song
     
    Jarleboy likes this.
  24. beccabear67

    beccabear67 Musical Omnivore

    Location:
    Victoria, Canada
    I thought Stevie Nicks' Blue Lamp was a cosmic outer space epic commenting on pantheistic mythologies with a touch of H.P.Lovecraft... was I ever disappointed to find out it was just about some old lamp her Granny had left her and that downstairs referred to an actual house she lived in at the time rather than the metaphysical underworld. In other words, I have a lousy track record on interpreting lyrics. :sigh:

    Later ABBA does seem to be filled with shadows; a supposed Scandinavian enjoyment in small sadnesses? Still pretty sure Peter Green's Green Manalishi is referencing the dollar sign and is about the negative influence of money though. :cool:
     
    FloydMaui and AFOS like this.
  25. kaztor

    kaztor How I feel when there is no coffee? Depresso.

    I think the interpretation as shown above is only half of the story as to why the song sounds so gloomy. Even as an 8-year-old I noticed a shift in their sound and band dynamics. In fact, with all later knowledge added, from the album Super Trouper on the band starts to sound laboured, as if something is creeping towards an end. The Visitors really has this dark cloud hovering above it and so do the subsequent singles afterwards. Relationships falling apart, working together despite that, stress, apathy towards touring (Agnetha), The Visitors seems to display it all.
     

Share This Page