(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.))

Tuesday, June 9, 2009

Is Agnetha a recluse? 'Nej'.

(Note to readers: This post is part of an appreciative but unofficial website about aspects of Agnetha Fältskog's public career.)

Upfront response: I don't really know. And likely you don't really know either. Very few truly have personal, firsthand knowledge of this question. Update: Please see further below for several interesting, 2010 occurrences pertinent to this posting entry. 2013 update: As fans know, many of Agnetha's "A" album promo efforts/activities rendered much of this post's subject (and writings) moot.....(Intentionally, I'd speculate....I.e., returning to public recording/performing may have been - in part - to (further) dispel such media-fed images, stereotypes.))

(Continuing, previously written text:) Almost every published feature (or gossip) article of length from the past 20+ years labels ex-ABBA singer Agnetha Fältskog as a "recluse", "virtual recluse"; or, "hiding", "in exile", etc.  ('Agnetha' is pronounced at the end of this brief video (link) for us.)

One fairly typical example: This published piece from 2008, and still readily found via Internet search engines. It is a generally unfavorable article (with some questionable statements): (Link) http://www.dailymail.co.uk/tvshowbiz/article-1034466/Is-Abbas-Agnetha-Faltskog-finally-ready-forgive-bandmates-years-misery.html
A couple additional examples of unflattering articles are linked further below. (Looking impartially, Agnetha did not help herself at times, i.e.; with the press...)

(Readers' note: Please consider this entry to be something of a research-based commentary/opinion piece. (Nej = 'No' in Swedish. Please read on for details.))

This blog focuses mainly upon Ms. Fältskog's special voice and her music. So the topic chosen for this post will not be explored in depth. (Also cannot be...) At this point it's really no one's business. And, as noted elsewhere in this blog there is much public information (factual and otherwise), and published music available from/about the singer. One (factual) example: Part of an in-depth interview conducted in 2004 (link): http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=lHRCGJLIs0k

From the cited source, below, here is a definition of the word "recluse":  
n.  A person who withdraws from the world to live in seclusion and often in solitude.  
(recluse. Dictionary.com. The American Heritage® Dictionary of the English Language, Fourth Edition. Houghton Mifflin Company, 2004. http://dictionary.reference.com/browse/recluse (accessed: February 01, 2010).)

From the same source, a couple of listed definitions for the word "private":  Solitary, secluded. 
Or: Preferring privacy; retiring. 

From those two definitions, the nearest aspect that may apply to Agnetha's private life is 'secluded' (or seclusion). I think it is more accurate to say that she has deliberately secluded herself and her cherished family (a very, very important factor in a discussion of this general subject) from incessant attention from the public; uncontrolled scrutiny from media outlets. (Page 119 in Ms. Fältskog's As I Am 1996 biography alludes to an "intense need" for seclusion. In addition: The lady has stated in the past that she doesn't mind leaving a little mystery (about herself).) 2013 update/insert: Ms. Fältskog has specifically challenged the 'mystery' notion in a few of her "A" album promo interviews. I have not been able to - yet - re-locate the publication/article where I believe I read that original comment.....
(Continuing, previously written:) Prior to getting to my points (below), also worth noting:  The celebrity apparently has received threats over the years, and has needed to take some precautions.  (BTW, perhaps a future post topic: How (and why) humankind (not just in the U.S.) seems to drive so many of its treasured singers and other performers-of-the-arts into "seclusion". Or worse. Is it us, or is it them? Both? )
Update: Also -another aspect to consider: As former ABBA 'mate'/ex-husband Björn Ulvaeus points out from his excellent "My City_My Life" tour (for CNN, 2009):"A lot of Swedes are really quite modest and unassuming. I think that's actually the closest you can get to a national trait, if there is one."

Getting to the point: There is a difference; being private versus being a "recluse":

Per her own As I Am biography, she is not solitary. Agnetha's family and close friends have always been part of her life; even her household. (True today.) Aside: Get to know 'everyday' Agnetha from 1981 via a charming interview available via this 'ABBA4EVER' forum thread. Perhaps the singer really hasn't changed all that much (since). From Argentinian TV : http://www.iphpbb.com/board/ftopic-30652567nx61610-9513.html

In the past Ms. Fältskog has indicated publicly that "she is interested in (and affected by) what's going on in the world": Link, new window opens...very good video clip for understanding a bit about grown-up Agnetha (1980s): http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=BE3jcho0rVo&fmt=18

And, FWIW, the Swedish star attends openings, galas and other invitation-only events occasionally - if that matters in this discussion. Prominent, media-covered outings such as these are the only ones that the general public (usually) learns about. (FYI, a good thread at 'abba4ever.com' touches upon this, with examples (link, new window).)  
2010 update: Per a 'recent posts' item (top of the right sidebar here), Agnetha dazzles at the 2010 Copenhagen premier of Mamma Mia!  A 'knock out' (of an) appearance, and I think further renders the "recluse" label (and much of this post) moot. (Agnetha does have the (very) occasional surprises for fans...)  Agnetha shows us all (incl. silly bloggers).... Now, if she would perhaps consider a little more singing for us. Additional 2010 update: Per this link/site; Agnetha is apparently spotted enjoying herself again. Update: And yet another one (link). Looking very good, and maybe the lady's just enjoying getting out (publicly, hi-profile events) more. Plus perhaps showing fans (and any detract-ers?) that she's not just "sitting at home". Or, is "something" imminent with the singer....? No knowing (for most of us)....yet.  
Another 2010 update: Link from Mikory's ABBA blog to an English translation of Ms. Fältskog's recent interview with Sweden's M-Magazine'. (Link  is here.)  Though potentially an image-altering article via the included photos, Agnetha - perhaps surprisingly, given that she's publicly  appearing in a glossy magazine photo spread/interview - reiterates the "I want to be left alone" mantra. (I.e., at one point within the interview portion of the piece.)   
Perhaps she emerged (for the article) merely to provide interested fans with an up-to-date glimpse of herself. (Having a bit of fun, obviously...) Although we have to respect it as Agnetha clearly means it, uttering that "Garbo-esque" phrase might - at the same time - reinforce a (media) stereotype about her....(As mentioned. This person - Andres Lokko, Swedish entertainment writer, seems to have similar thoughts (link to story). Although it is possible that Ms.Fältskog's  "...left alone" words may have mainly referenced celebrity-related attention, e.g.;as with the paparazzi. (And perhaps blog writers...) I.e.: She may be saying that she wishes to be 'anonymous' -- similar to non-celebrities.

(Continuing on; previously written text:)

Private? Yes. Recluse? By definition, I don't think so.....

However,as expertly described by Carl Magnus Palm in his introduction to (ABBA biography) Bright Lights, Dark Shadows, it is still fair to say that Ms. Fältskog has not enjoyed some consequences of success and fame. Per Mr. Palm: Agnetha is the band (ABBA) member "...for whom fame became a poison chalice." Agnetha's own As I Am biography was - in part - a "rant" or complaint about certain such consequences.
A 2010, updated note: Per Agnetha's As I Am, and as also noted via this post here, parts of the 1990's decade were a difficult time for the singing star. A second marriage ended. Agnetha then lost her parents. A (likely) sensitive person (though possessing inner strength) -- already trying to recover from/avoid being a focus of relentless and massive attention -- did not help herself by apparently behaving the role of "a second Garbo" (at moments)... with the media(!). As may be seen via the following story link, Agnetha's choice of a confidant, biographer and "friend" at the time hardly worked in her favor, either. Press articles such as this one from 'The Mail on Sunday' in 1999 (by Gill Martin) certainly advanced the image of a lonely, scared, forlorn, etc. person. Some 'quotations' in the generally unkind and damaging piece seem 'cherry-picked' from As I Am. (With a couple of  presumptive insults relating to the singer's appearance 'tossed in'....) But Agnetha's own attributed quotations (for it) certainly did nothing to dispel this portrait. (Assuming that she said such things. And note that it appears like the"reporter" (may have) ambushed Agnetha at her local recycling center - in order to (gleefully?) 'dish' about the encounter ...)

2012 (blogger) update and edit:  Having carried on seemingly endlessly here, I've decided to remove the final few, extraneous paragraphs from this (rambling) post. I believe that Ms.Fältskog's public activities over the past few years (ref. several mentioned above) have confirmed to fans that she remains a private, home-oriented person. But one who also "gets out" in public on occasion, for reasons of her own choosing; including perhaps showing fans (from around the world) that she's doing just fine.

I am leaving the final paragraph intact:

(Previously written text:) Of particular importance to understanding the Swedish singer are her entries on page 121 of As I Am. Where Ms. Fältskog resolutely refutes (part of) her "image" that she believes has been propagated over the years by tabloid/gossip media: "... I have never been forlorn!", she contends. (Referring to some stories allegedly portraying her as being alone and forlorn.) A "...topsy-turvy picture of me...", Agnetha states.
That page, its chapter and its assertions are one of the main reasons that the 1996 book was written, I believe. 

© 2010-2014 (original portions)

(Note: This post is backdated to better position within the order of entries in this blog.)   

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

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