(Blogger note: Except for 2013-14 updates below, much of this website was written between 2009-11. Reader update: All 'abba4ever' forum hyperlinks (within the blog's text) are defunct. (Forum has closed.))

Thursday, May 21, 2009

Agnetha: What happened? My summary post, to date

© 2009-2014 (original portions only). Please contact the writer for permissions (pls. ref. the bottom of the page).

Answers: We only have 'glimpses'. And also, perhaps: Mostly nothing unusual.

(7/09 blogger update: Unfortunately, my recent reading of C.M. Palm's ABBA biography ("Bright Lights, Dark Shadows") may have exposed part of that answer line (above) as being overly optimistic. If interested, please see pages 512-13 and 523-25 of that detailed book.)

Updated note: This post was written awhile ago (2009-10). It may be beneficial to also read this later entry (link, new window), for a more up-to-date summary. Plus: Agnetha is recording again! (link)

(Continuing previously written text:) I'm not going to be (more?) rude and endlessly speculate....beyond what I have already (link). At this late date, I can't (and won't) "cover" Ms. Fältskog and her extensive career as completely as several others have over the decades. Mr. Palm's ABBA biography and some good "Agnetha" web sites should be consulted for such in-depth work  (Two such web sites (links): "The Agnetha Fältskog Archives", and the official ABBA site, which has a number of excellent articles about the band and all of its members.)
As noted, mine is a belated, enthusiast's expression containing some newfound  "discoveries" and some newly-gained insights. It's completely unofficial, but may constitute an enjoyable experience for fans. 
BTW: Is this a "rogue blog"? Hah....hardly. It primarily focuses upon Ms. Fältskog's outstanding voice and her recorded work and appearances. There are a few details "discovered" in this tiny blog that haven't been explored thoroughly elsewhere. 

Please bear with me re this post. It is lengthy but there is much information presented (including linked info.).
New, 2009 update: I've finally obtained a copy of Ms. Fältskog's 1996 biography (with Brita Ahman), "As I Am". Though this effort was generally thought by critics to be not revealing enough (of Agnetha (pronounced [aŋˈneːta]), too selective in subject matter, etc.; it's only fair to give it a read. Though mine is just a personal "discovery" blog, I've written much here (about the singer) without it. I'm sure her book contains useful insights (for fans) and probably will challenge at least a couple of impressions I've obtained (through other research). Updated corrections, clarifications, etc. will follow my reading. 11/09 update: Here is a link to one of those; perhaps the best paragraph in that 1996 book. And, my reading of "As I Am" is now complete. A few corrections and updates have been added here, where appropriate. I believe that many of my independently-derived findings, etc. were confirmed/partly confirmed via the reading. As I Am generally did not offer prodigious detail, though it features frank and honest moments....Update: If interested, please take a quick look at this post (new window), which includes a couple of brief, revealing paragraphs from that biography.

Ultimately: There's only one person
who really knows and can tell us:

(Continuing on:) Also, a large part of any response to a "what happened" question is displayed via the photo, below. Agnetha's children: Eventually more important to her than career, awards, etc. The singer stepped back from the spotlight in the mid-1980's to raise them.

(Aside: The excellent "abba4ever" forum has a topic named "Pictures tell her feelings". A mother's love and pride are "written" all over Agnetha's face in this photo (below), n'est-ce pas?)
Image source (link). Daughter Linda is shown, from long ago.

(Another quick break for a "road map": Please be sure to enjoy my summary (i.e., what's been learned so far) near the end of this post. Supporting off-page links are in light-blue. (Note: You'll miss some enjoyable videos just below, but click here to jump directly to the summary section if you'd like...) And also don't miss the nice John Wetton story link (about Ms. Fältskog) near the end (below), along with a link to a charming, in-depth 1985 TV interview. (Almost a "this is your life" examination, as Agnetha says near the end of it.)

(Moving on:)
As noted many times here, a successful performer's on-stage persona can be much different than their private self.

That said: Please compare and contrast the following two video links. The first could be almost any music video/promotional performance from ABBA in the 1970s. I happened to choose this 1978 Dancing Queen, as both ladies are fantastic. (Yes, lip-syncing all the way here. Ms. Agnetha  [aŋˈneːta]: Was at her best with her dancing moves here. (Agnetha's got the moves down here, also (link); another 1976 Dancing Queen performance. Good job!)  (Continuing:) And perfect camera posing at around 2:15 in the video....a specialty of hers. (Even the (song's) lines Agnetha is singing at that point somehow seem fitting....Her moment might have been a pre-arranged close-up.)) They're acting, but both young ladies exude sexuality, charm, and confidence. As they both did in many of their video-ed performances from that time....On-stage: Excellent presenters and performers. (Must say: This (below) is just a great, mimed performance video of ABBA's pop mega-hit....Who wouldn't be captivated by it...?? Plus, I think the two ladies are competing (with each other) a bit...i.e., for the camera's/audience's attention.....A beautiful job. BTW: Christopher Patrick's ABBA: Let the Music Speak (pages 190-191, 226-227, etc.) has enlightening detail about the singing and structure of this great pop song (Dancing Queen). As Mr. Patrick notes: It is an "...epic vocal showcase..." (and more).)

Link to first (D.Q.) video (new window): http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=xtsbxGzRZWc

'What the heck', while we're at it enjoy '2Shaymcn's' posted, live version of (ABBA's) 'D.Q.', from Sydney, 1977. For someone who indicated that she was occasionally uncomfortable on stage (live), Ms. "Dancing Queen" Fältskog seemed to have a very good time with this one. Particularly note excellent live singer/performer Frida though, leading the way with strong and confident singing. ('Mezzo' Frida finds those very low notes on (song words) "king", "dance", etc. Awesome.) Current link: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=XaQpbL5arLA&fmt=18 
(If you don't get a smile or something via this joyful (and skillful) live performance (from long ago), check your pulse...(To ensure there is one.))

ABBA Pictures Agnetha Fältskog

Shared via AddThis

(Continuing:) The second video link (it's located further below) is part 3 of a four-part (on You Tube), 40-minute interview done with Agnetha Fältskog by Lasse Bengtsson in late 2004. (Thank you very much to "JaniceHope" for posting. All four parts are worth watching, especially if you're an Agnetha/ABBA fan.) Note: This interview seems to be the more melancholy of two that are available from 2004. From You Tube, I'll insert a link (with English) to the other (brighter) one from that time: http://www.youtube.com/profile?user=Ljus85#p/u/25/rU6q9oim0h8Blogger update: Portions of this nice interview appear to have now been blocked on YouTube by record company WMG.  Thanks to YT user 'Ljus85' for the (currently) remaining (English) parts.
Another update: If not already seen, Agnetha fans will find it worthwhile to read this forum's translation (link, new window) of Agnetha's charming 2009 interview with Lotta Brome. Among other things it contains hints as to why Agnetha (and Frida) may be reluctant to record again. (I.e., they set (themselves) a 'high bar' with their work in the 1970s and '80s....)

((Continuing previous entry:) A good 'screen cap' from the brighter interview:)

My main point: It seems a long, LONG road from that dynamic on-stage young woman of the '70s to the one talking in 2004. (A smooth one? You can decide.) And that's about all that I can say. It HAS been a long period of time, of course. And Ms. Fältskog does graciously answer some questions in the interview (probing at times), about how she's been affected/how she's reacted to her experiences. (Some: Intense.) And recent years have featured at least occasional public appearances, and re-connecting with fans of her voice. (That video link for the Bengtsson interview is coming...further below in the text.)

(screen cap from YT (2004) Bengtsson interview video)

This will be it from me on this subject for awhile, as I've learned a lot in a short period, but will never know the real story only from videos and existing interviews. (And also believe I'm "wearing it out".) But I hope some will enjoy reading this unusual perspective -- though it's not exclusively so. ABBA makes/re-makes fans every day. Perhaps as you go on to the second link, I'll add a couple of impressions:
As usual, Agnetha is candid... to a point. I find it poignant that the interviewer needs to work hard to elicit a (mainly) lukewarm response from her about "what was fun" about the ABBA days. Also, look to the end of part 2 of the interview for an intriguing glimpse into the sensitive lady's inner make-up. (I.e., her "Ferdinand the Bull" comparison.)

Link to second You Tube video (interview): http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=lHRCGJLIs0k&fmt=18

Learned thus far (updated) : A few months ago I knew little about ABBA. (Didn't even know all of their names, including Ms. Fältskog's.) Caught up to the world a bit here, and also belatedly found a star who excelled at her art; but sacrificed for the benefit of her hugely successful band. (Qualified use of "sacrificed": She's a wealthy lady by most accounts.)

 I'm not prepared to comment upon the late-1980's-1990's private portion of this reluctant star's life. Though inspired to write about her/her music, I respect
Ms. Fältskog's current, private life. (E.g., this singular blog effort is not promoted, or for monetary purpose, etc., etc.)  Agnetha has also been quoted as saying she did not aim "to be worshiped by loads of people". (I'd offer that it is too late (i.e., to squelch some of that); sometimes admiration (of a talented person in a public profession) can't be prevented....). 

Also: Please consider this qualifying post (link). Carl Magnus Palm has achieved a definitive account of ABBA and its members. Many of the insights offered below have subsequently been checked/validated via Mr. Palm's book....

Update: "A very nice read": Also before proceeding -- if you'd like, and are still staying with me here -- please enjoy a good, condensed perspective via an excellent 1983 article about Agnetha's life and career. From this link to "Mikory's ABBA Blog". (It's also available here.)  (From 'Allers Magazine'.)

Agnetha: (As an adult.) Summary of learning here, and likely a confirmation of what long-time fans know. (This summary is an overview, it is not comprehensive. (Please peruse Ms. Fältskog's As I Am biography and  interviews for a more complete "picture".) Publicly-available source info. is credited/linked.) :

Sensitive and talented; outright gifted in voice and appearance.
(At times) An expressive singer.
Ambivalent about success, stardom; comfortable working/being alone (or nearly...)  
(Update:) "...both shy and determined..."   
A strong need to "be herself" as an adult. 
Was temperamental at times.

A pure and sweet voice, but it may chiefly be remembered (as
skillfully) blended and harmonized within ABBA....A brilliant (definition) pop soprano (?) voice, nicely matured now.... Somewhat "anonymized" (outside of her country/region) by a lilting but unfamiliar name, plus her team member status.... Was usually seen from afar on stage (in matching dress) with ABBA, or not at all (working from the studio).... But for many who got, or have now had a good look: A smiling sensation. Notable for the raves (for her) on present-day You Tube. (Many well done "queen of pop", etc. tributes there.... Not that most of this blog isn't one too... Haven't really found a YT commenter who doesn't like her performances. Just about everyone likes her/her voice....) Emulated singing with her idols for many hours as a girl. .... Became a teen-aged star in Sweden, "bigger" than others who formed ABBA....Younger by a few years than her band-mates; possibly was less worldly.... (Found herself) (R)equired to balance 'mom'/successful career woman roles (slightly ahead of her time).... Part of Ms. Fältskog's personal dilemma at the time: A "big" star's voice, appearance and stage presence, (co-)fronting a music group that "took off", but desires and disposition not matching (the external aspect).(E.g., ref. lyrics to ABBA's 1980 'Super Trouper' for a possible glimpse at how Ms. Fältskog (and maybe all of ABBA) came to view touring, and even stardom in general...) I.e., A bright voice, bright smile, but was inconsonant (as a person, at the time)....Contradictory at times, also....Evidently shy (e.g.,see this linked quotation, 2nd-to-last paragraph), likely inner-directed, devoted to her family, self-critical about her English skills (and also certain recorded efforts, per page 123 of As I Am), admittedly anxious at times... Yet a dramatic and confident professional singer -- her (childhood) dream.... ABBA's "Thank You For The Music" (link is to a special "Doris Day" version) seemed written largely with her in mind: Proud, but grateful of her gift. This song's lyrics speak about (even for) an important aspect of the performer from the time. (But note that it was recorded in 1977).(7/09 blogger note: Per subsequent reading of C.M. Palm's ABBA biography this last statement may not be entirely accurate, other than the proud and (generally) grateful part.)......Another song perhaps fitting Agnetha's more intractable (or temperamental) side: ABBA's "That's Me". (A favorite of both ABBA ladies.).... Not often apparent, but perhaps a possessor of a (playful?) sense of humor. (Planned, public examples are shown here and here.).... (Updated info.:) Apparently a yoga devotee in more recent years.(Confirmed: Pages 140-143, "As I Am" biography)....Always an artist first; never about huge money for her, professionally. (As with most/all of ABBA's members. And sensitive about that aspect of her success, too). ....Warm and engaging as a stage performer, especially on camera, especially in close-up; but modest and seemingly embarrassed by unsurprising attention to her sexy stage appearance and persona. (Which was unabashed at moments...Again, seemingly a two-fold nature (a key aspect): The charismatic performer vs. the (more) private person.) Occasionally less-than-perfect though, as a live singer with ABBA. (Her discomfort in front of crowds possibly a reason....11/09 update: Confirmed, via page 137, "As I Am" biography.) 
And, apparently: Not the best of luck with men at times (depending upon what (often) second-hand "information" you want to believe). Ironically: Described by some (associates) as a person open to love ,who often wrote or sang about love, but seemingly let down by various men in her life.(No confirming link is provided here; but (often) speculative info. is widely available.) Despite this, the public image of a forlorn woman -- advanced in part by her songs and singing style -- may be exaggerated. 11/09 blogger update: Pages 120-21 of Ms. Fältskog's "As I Am" biography feature passionate inveighing against said "forlorn woman" image. Perhaps a key reason that As I Am was written...I.e., an attempt to "set the record straight". 

And then? She went her own way; moving away from this former, famous incarnation.

Last note: The following quotation has been attributed to Ms. Fältskog. If true, it tells much -- but (effectively) disowns (and contains) part of her appeal. The spotlight: Both her friend (she showed well in it) and her enemy (didn't enjoy the attention/consequences):

"The driving force wasn’t so much to be visible as a person as to show my talent." 

11/09 update:  Per page 137 of the "As I Am" biography, the quotation above is out of context. To me, Ms. Fältskog is talking (more) specifically about performing on stage with ABBA (i.e., in that page 137 paragraph). However, FWIW, here is a link (to a 1997 article) where Agnetha (reportedly) says these words - which are important for better understanding the artist - in a slightly different way (and context): My strength is not showing myself, but my talent.”

Speaking for many however, thank God she "let it shine". (Her talent.) We all benefited. Beyond financially; how much did she?

That said, though, another quotation from Ms. Fältskog to consider, in a 1986 interview with Året Runt (magazine?). I think that this strongly hints at what she ultimately evolved toward. (I.e., for the most part, an independent woman (and mother).) "Besides, I don't think it's really true that it makes you a complete person just because you have someone by your side. The loneliness can also be very stimulating. You can sense your freedom." 11/09 blogger update: Impression confirmed, re Ms Fältskog's own words on page 84 of her 1996 biography, "As I Am". Also ref., her "enormous need for freedom", part of an intriguing self-description on page 143 in that book.  If interested, pls. see a complete 1987 interview  conducted with Brita Ahman which also portended the future, linked here (Mikory's ABBA blog): http://abbamikory.blogs.com/abbamikory/2010/01/agnetha-the-children-must-come-first.html.

(Not qualified to go further with any of this. A more complete examination could not ignore the bizarre affair summarized in Mr. Palm's ABBA biography, pages 523-25. A reputation-damaging lapse in reason(?) would be one guess.... Notice: Some speculative and/or questionable content, via the linked YT video. Could her dalliance have been a very strange publicity stunt? A passing physical attraction? (E.g., A real life version of (the main message in) this 1983 song video (link)?)   A "cry for help"...?
None of the above seems to be in character (public perception) for the seemingly down-to-earth Swedish star. No one really knows except Ms. Fältskog....But that late 1990's, "head-scratcher" relationship with a Dutch fan seemed to defy conventional reason; rationality.)

(Continuing on:) Excellent "bonus" info./link: I'm also a big fan of John Wetton (King Crimson, U.K., Asia, etc.). Through the interesting "http://www.agnetha-forever.de/" site, I've just discovered this great little story that John Wetton offered about briefly working with Agnetha, back in his "Asia" days. Kind, insider impressions about working with the nice, talented lady. And as he notes, Agnetha Fältskog IS an inspiring woman, just by being herself. Written in 2006 here is his succinct summary of Ms. Fältskog (his experience knowing her); which may in fact substitute for a fair amount of my voluminous summary (above):

"Emotional vulnerability with powerful inner strength. That`s what it is."

Take a quick look at Mr. Wetton's brief article - including his nice closing comment (re working with Agnetha)- at the informative website (link): http://www.agnetha-forever.de/ChangeLog/move/move.html

Note: The paragraphs that follow are also available in a separate post: http://star4abba.blogspot.com/2009/05/ms-faltskog-1985.html

One more "must see" for fans of Ms. Fältskog: Get to know Agnetha from 1985 via this charming and quite in-depth six-part interview, recently posted on You Tube. Lovely woman, lovely voice. Consistent in her outlook and views. Honest. And endearingly nervous at the show's beginning (despite being a world-famous star). Although her apparent comment about "having nightmares for six months" prior to the appearance could be one clue as to why she proceeded to drastically reduce such activities: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=h6ycR3mzz_c&feature=related

Even more (this post may, in fact, never end): Another charming interview around the mid-'80s, I believe. The Belgian audience is in love with her, and her voice is mesmerizing. And very sharp English speaking (and listening) skills here too! Agnetha's more "up" for this little chat; less nervous. The somewhat awkward interviewer might have been less intimidating...she's actually kind of laughing at him at the end. (I've noticed that back then at times, she occasionally seemed to be "putting the interviewer on" a bit, at points. Interesting. One reason might have been that she got the same questions over and over.) At any rate, for whatever reason, she's at her charismatic best here:  http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=mv9JrEWDZGw&feature=related
2010 update: Bad news...the interview portion of this appearance is now gone from YouTube. A link one of the songs Agnetha performed on the show: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=UI5uO8VyNhU 
Update: Here is a different current YT link for the '85 Belgian TV interview/performances (new window opens): http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=h1ypyMMfSzw 

Yet more from 1985? Here's a link to a pleasant album promo video where Agnetha talks about her current life, Sweden, etc.  And in about the most musical-sounding voice possible. Enjoyable (especially like the fall in the snow with the dog). And she again shows consistency in her views: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=iMK5C9Mx_RE&feature=related

As mentioned above, please see this separate blog entry for even more information about 1985 happenings for the artist. (And it's the preceding, or next one in the order of posts here, depending upon how you're navigating through the blog.) : http://star4abba.blogspot.com/2009/05/ms-faltskog-1985.html

Even more: A snapshot of Agnetha's state from around 1996? Here's a rough (quite) English translation (via Google) of an article by Per Svensson, from that year. Title: "When the tears ended."  I don't know how long the link will remain valid: http://translate.google.com/translate?prev=hp&hl=en&js=y&u=http%3A%2F%2Fwww.agnetha.net%2FSJAbook%2Fmirror.MJ%2F9608_svensson_agnetha.html&sl=sv&tl=en&history_state0=

Link to my full blog: http://star4abba.blogspot.com/

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