It’s shamefaced confession time: I love ABBA, and always have. Back in the 1970s, in the vinyl era, I bought several of their records and had many hours of listening pleasure. And then vinyl went away and my ABBA records, along with the rest of my collection, went into boxes, never to be played again. What I’ve noticed over the years, though, is that whenever I hear ABBA music (on Pandora, the radio, etc.), it just makes me feel really happy. I decided to stop seeking random opportunities to hear ABBA, so I splurged on four of my favorite CDs: Arrival, Voulez-Vous, The Visitors, and Super Trouper. I don’t know if it’s a good thing or pathetically juvenile, but I enjoy the discs as much as I ever did.
What I’m also enjoying are the tracks I’d never heard before that have been added to the discs as bonus features. The one that triggered this post is “Cassandra.” You may be familiar with the name. In Greek Mythology, Cassandra was cursed, not only with the gift of prophecy, which is burdensome enough, but with the inability to make people believe and prepare for her grim forecasts. It was she who warned the Trojans of their coming doom, only to be derided or ignored. She escaped Troy only to be forced into becoming King Agamemnon’s concubine, with the inevitable result (this is Greek tragedy, after all), that Agamemnon’s wife, Clytemnestra, killed her. Whew!
Anyway, back to the ABBA song. Aside from having really a lovely melody, the lyrics are beautiful too, being both poetic and very apt to the age we live in. You can find them all here, but I particularly liked this part:
Down in the street they’re all singing and shouting
Staying alive though the city is dead
Hiding their shame behind hollow laughter
While you are crying alone in your bed
Pity, Cassandra, that no one believed you
But then again you were lost from the start
Now we must suffer and sell our secrets,
Bargain, playing smart, aching in our hearts
Sorry, Cassandra, I misunderstood
Now the last day is dawning
Some of us wanted but none of us could
Listen to words of warning
But on the darkest of nights
Nobody knew how to fight
And we were caught in our sleep
Sorry, Cassandra, I didn’t believe
You really had the power
I only saw it as dreams you would weave
Until the final hour
I sometimes feel as if we, on the right, are Cassandras, and can only hope that the citizenry will wise up before our cities our dead, and the few survivors sail away, to God alone knows what fate.
UPDATE: As I’m pulling a half nighter (I hope to be finished by about 3), I can only say that I’m thrilled with my ABBA, since it’s got the kind of bouncing energy that keeps my fingers and brain engaged when the rest of me really, really wants to stop. I’m getting too old for these weeks where I’m up before dawn with the kids, work all day, shlep the kids around all afternoon (or, on soccer weekends, all day), cook, clean, fold laundry, and then work again into the wee hours.
UPDATE II: I am not alone.