Monday, 29 April 2013

Björn at the right time

Small, neat and a little orange, Abba's Björn Ulvaeus (right) – he married the blonde one – slips into our group, unannounced. We are visiting the soon-to-open Abba Museum in Stockholm and he is here to say hello. Serious but warm, and not at all starry (impressive, given that he is the second most famous Björn to come out of Sweden), he answers our questions happily but succinctly. 

How does it feel to be opening a museum about yourself? "Like looking at another person's life. And extremely narcissistic! Ha, ha!" 

I downloaded Abba's Greatest Hits last week in the name of journalistic research, and was reminded of the sublime craftsmanship of their songs: joyful, innocent, glossy, addictive and universally appealing. A friend told me last week that mountain rescue workers in Wales listen to Abba in the rescue vehicle to cheer themselves up. I'm not surprised: their tunes are musical anti-depressants. 

Benny Andersson actually wrote more of the songs – Ulvaeus the lyrics – but perhaps they were like Lennon and McCartney: better as two than one. "We never took ourselves too seriously," he says. "Everything was tongue in cheek. Except the music: we took that dead seriously." 

Photographs: top, Bengt H Malmqvist; bottom, err, me. Apologies for quality. 

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