What is The Day Before You Came about?

Discussion in 'ABBA' started by Kalabaliken, Dec 20, 2016.

  1. Kalabaliken

    Kalabaliken Pop Precision Since 1978

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    What do YOU think The Day Before You Came is about?

    It could have many different interpretations. Was Agnetha's lover an abuser? Was she murdered? Or raped? Or is it just a simple tale of someone who is lamenting the end of a relationship?

    And why did it take her only an hour to get to work but THREE hours to get home afterwards?
     
    Last edited: Dec 20, 2016
  2. Suomi

    Suomi User

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    Reflection on what life was like before a significant relationship started that changed you as a person.
     
  3. VoR

    VoR #Justice4JLo

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    Clearly you've never done a public transport commute.
     
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  4. Pingu

    Pingu Noot noot

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    She murdered someone between leaving work and arriving home (hence the time discrepancy) and the whole song is her giving her alibi to the police, who are the "you" in the title. It explains the minutiae of the detail she goes into in parts, and the haunting instrumental between verse 2 and 3, where the murder takes place.

    It's an unlikely theory, but definitely my favourite one.
     
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  5. Kalabaliken

    Kalabaliken Pop Precision Since 1978

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    She's in SWEDEN.
     
  6. Tetris-Rock

    Tetris-Rock TRAY UP, BITCH

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    This. Never seen it as anything else.
     
  7. VoR

    VoR #Justice4JLo

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    It's obviously about the release of the seminal Kim Wilde top 3 hit which would, let's face it, change anybody's life.
     
  8. Zu-Klara

    Zu-Klara User

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    It's definitely about death. I think she dies in her sleep after a life of profound mundanity. Why else would the HOST OF HEAVENLY ANGELS turn up at the end?

    Mind you, quite liking the MURDERESS theory :disco:
     
  9. Ag

    Ag User

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    It was a new lover. I have never once considered the nature of her new lover until recently. It's only the mood of the song that suggests that there may be something more dark at play, but it's never implicitly suggested.

    Also the video, seems to imply a Good Sex Guide romp.
     
  10. lolly

    lolly Rowena? From Kuwait?

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    This. Although I can't quite work out if she's still in the relationship, or if it has ended and she is returning to the monotony.
     
    Last edited: Dec 20, 2016
  11. lolly

    lolly Rowena? From Kuwait?

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    She looks gorgeous in the video, after the sack of potatoes with a bad perm years.
     
  12. Madison

    Madison Everything goes up by six

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    Definitely about the day before she gets hammer-murdered
     
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  13. Marilyn

    Marilyn User

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    The day before the angel of death visits her - it's a prequel to Like An Angel (of death) Passing Through My Room.

    Insert your own theory as to why the role is split between Ag and Frid, I'm sure whatever it is it's deep
     
  14. Kalabaliken

    Kalabaliken Pop Precision Since 1978

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    Even Agnetha has said that she doesn't think it ends well for the woman in the song, and Björn has said that there could possibly be an underlying meaning. There's definitely something amiss somewhere.
     
  15. lolly

    lolly Rowena? From Kuwait?

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    The Guardian had this to say in 2010:

    https://www.theguardian.com/music/musicblog/2010/sep/30/abba-day-before-you-came

    So the mighty female component of Abba are reportedly discussing working together again for the first time since 1983. "It would be great to do something with Agnetha," says Frida, now 65. "If we did, it would be hard to avoid all the pressure because of Abba. It could never be low-key." But while a recording might be fun (if, as Frida says, somewhat highly strung), how on earth could a pair of sixtysomethings top the enduring appeal of the band's underrated last track – six-minute epic The Day Before You Came?
    For those who remain immune to Abba's charms or haven't heard the song (after all, it wasn't on Mamma Mia!) The Day Before You Came – like many a classic – was an inexplicable flop, peaking at No 32 in October 1982 during a prolonged period of decline for the band. Rumour has it that the vocal was performed by Agnetha with the lights off, causing a whisper throughout the studio that this really was the end for the group. Finishing her vocals, our heroine was to remove her headphones and walk solemnly out into the daylight, never to return.

    But recording circumstances aside, what's so special about The Day Before You Came? Surely it can't compete with the transcendence of The Winner Takes It All?

    I would argue that, in keeping with the band's final album, The Visitors, the track's power lies in its layering of boredom and grandeur, transience and doom. It combines a rising sense of melancholy, both in its melody and production, with wistful, nostalgic lyrics as it charts the ordinary life of a woman the day before the arrival of her lover.

    It's this ordinariness, this universality (ironic given the band's fame) that hooks the listener immediately. Agnetha's first-person account of a day at the office, backlit by an almost unacknowledged depression, morphs into an unusually poignant parable of what modern life means. We are whisked through a sludge-grey morning commute, "heaps of papers waiting to be signed", and a rainy lunch at the "usual place" with "the usual bunch", followed by the slog home at 5pm with "Chinese food to go". Finally, at quarter past ten, our world-weary protagonist collapses into bed insisting she has "no sense of living without aim".

    So far, so Abba. Yet if we look closer, the song's meaning becomes harder to fathom. Throughout, the lyrics are oddly imprecise – every sentence begins with "I must have … " or "I'm pretty sure … " – and it's this vague recollective tone that gives her account a tinge of unreality, even fiction. She is the perfect unreliable narrator: "I'm sure my life was well within its usual frame", she sings at one point, and we fear the reverse; later she claims, "at the time I never noticed I was blue".

    Further ambiguity is provided by her bedside reading matter: the feminist American author "Marilyn French, or something in that style". Throw in the genuine sense of loss in Agnetha's voice, Frida's operatics, a moodily expressionist video and plaintive synths as omnipresent as the rain "rattling" on the roof, and The Day Before You Came carries a sense of foreboding almost unparalleled in pop music.

    And all this is heightened by an extended funereal instrumental coda which acts as one big question mark, leaving us with the feeling that this is not just a meditation on the quotidian but something greater, existential even. Is this imagined relationship, like the band itself, doomed?

    Of course, we can't expect such complexity from Abba's rumoured comeback single. But please continue your conversations, Agnetha and Frida. We're hoping this is the day you come back.
     
  16. lolly

    lolly Rowena? From Kuwait?

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    Of course, when Carl Magnus Palm's new book is finally published, I can tell you all. That will justify spending €95 or whatever it was on it.
     
  17. lolly

    lolly Rowena? From Kuwait?

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    Someone on quora.com had this to say

     
  18. lolly

    lolly Rowena? From Kuwait?

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    Although he did say this in the liner notes to the deluxe edition a few years back

     
  19. Ag

    Ag User

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    "I never even noticed I was blue" does throw a spanner in the works. Maybe it was suicide.
     
  20. Ag

    Ag User

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    If it was an abusive lover, why even mention she was SAD? EH

    EH?
     
  21. Sharla

    Sharla The Resistance

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    Happen she's singing about the vibrator that gave her her first orgasm. Or happen she isn't.
     
  22. Zu-Klara

    Zu-Klara User

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    I think the indisputably disastrous relationship actually PRE-DATES the narrative, which is then followed by the angel of death popping round (who then has a bit of a trill at the end of the song). She doesn't notice that she's blue because her mind and senses are shredded beyond repair further to the departure of the SADISTIC MONSTER

    Not projecting out anything of my own here OBVIOUSLY
     
  23. Ag

    Ag User

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    ABBA FAN FICTION

    You get what you deserve Moopy.
     
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  24. Zu-Klara

    Zu-Klara User

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    :D Coming next: hate crimes and lesbianism in ON TOP OF OLD SMOKEY
     
  25. Ag

    Ag User

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    Benny and Bjorn take on bipolar in Crazy World.
     
  26. Ag

    Ag User

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    Nina, Pretty Ballerina reveals her RAPE SHAME.
     
  27. Ag

    Ag User

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    I Wonder (Departure) re-imagined as a Brexit anthem.
     
  28. Sheena

    Sheena MAKE IT QUICK, LUCILLE!

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    I saw a great advert in London yesterday at a bus stop which simply said something along the lines of:

    "For the 3439 of you that streamed "It's The End Of The World As We Know It" the day the UK voted for Brexit...

    ...Hang in there.

    Spotify"
     
  29. lolly

    lolly Rowena? From Kuwait?

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    Suzy Hang Around a statement from the Ministry Of Warnings regarding the perils of autoerotic asphyxiation.
     
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  30. Zu-Klara

    Zu-Klara User

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    I almost wept on the bus earlier at the breathtaking magnificence of THIS MIX which is :disco: to INFINITY

    [video=youtube;1I8VDLzerh0]http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=1I8VDLzerh0[/video]

    Features Frida looking every inch the GRINNING DEVIL OF DOOM
     
    Last edited: Dec 20, 2016
  31. Ag

    Ag User

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    I propose that it's about the day before the new Argos catalogue was released.
     
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  32. Ag

    Ag User

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    Someone has been busy over isolation

     
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  33. Peekaboo

    Peekaboo User

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    OMG it's totally an anthem of a person dying of Corona :o
     
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  34. ButterTart

    ButterTart Mod of war

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    Listening to it, it is quite a creepy song. It does sound like something awful happens to her shortly after the song ends. If that bit about hearing the rain on the roof is the last line of the song, it makes me think there was something else she should have heard, but didn't (Someone in her house).

    It's totally about a relationship, but my theory (from hearing the song maybe twice in my entire life) is that the 'you' is a stalker who knows her every movement better than she knows them herself, and murders her after breaking into her apartment during the night.
     
  35. Sheena

    Sheena MAKE IT QUICK, LUCILLE!

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    OMG THAT’S INCREDIBLE
     
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  36. Suomi

    Suomi User

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    Mrs Suomi says: “because there are unexplained periods of time in the song i have always felt like she is an unreliable narrator, so you’re never sure whether she’s confessing or misdirecting you. The haunting - with the Frida opera in the background -is then being haunted by the person, whether she’s killed them or not.”
     
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  37. Kate

    Kate dumps like a truck

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    This is BRILLIANT. Although it has set me off again emotionally :( :shy:
     
    Last edited: Apr 14, 2020
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  38. lolly

    lolly Rowena? From Kuwait?

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  39. Zu-Klara

    Zu-Klara User

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    I still maintain this stance, although I read it the other day and wasn’t quite sure of the logical order :side-eye:
    Anyway she’s dead by the end :)
     
  40. Ag

    Ag User

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    Oh she must die. That actual Agnetha is still going is quite the shock in retrospect.
     

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