What is that song about?

People Need Love

‘People Need Love’ is a plea for harmony between the sexes, saying that love will bring people together – a common theme for light pop music in the early 1970s, in songs such as 'I'd Like To Teach The World To Sing' by the New Seekers, 'United We Stand' by Brotherhood of Man and 'Melting Pot' by Blue Mink.

He Is Your Brother

Similar in theme to ‘People Need Love’, with an added hint of religion, another popular theme of the era in songs like 'Spirit In The Sky' by Norman Greenbaum and 'Put Your Hand In The Hand' by Ocean.

Nina, Pretty Ballerina

‘Nina, Pretty Ballerina’ is the story of a plain office worker who goes out dancing on Friday nights, transforming from plain Jane to a dancing diva.

Sitting In The Palmtree

On the 1977 tour, Björn often introduced this song saying that it was the true story of a musician they knew, who climbed up a palmtree in the West Indies, and would not come down until his girlfriend came and told him that she loved him.

King Kong Song

‘King Kong Song’ is inspired by the 1933 classic film King Kong, about a giant ape that is taken from his native island to New York, where he escapes and climbs to the top of the Empire State Building (carrying a screaming Fay Wray), ultimately to be shot down – a scene engrained forever in movie history. The film was remade in 1976, and the song garnered radio airplay and briefly appeared on the singles chart in Australia in early 1977, where it had been released on the B side of ‘I’ve Been Waiting For You’ in 1974.

What About Livingstone

‘What About Livingstone’ is the story of the song’s narrator overhearing a group of men ridiculing the idea of men going to the moon (then topical, with the last moon landing in December 1972), and her response that explorers of the past, such as David Livingstone who explored central Africa in the 19th century, were no different.

Hey, Hey Helen

'Hey, Hey Helen' tells of a woman recently separated from her husband. The song may have been inspired by the 1973 British TV series Helen, A Woman Of Today.

Man In The Middle

‘Man In The Middle’ is the story of ordinary working folk making fun of a rich “fat cat” they see driving past in his limousine. Perhaps ABBA were trying to appeal to the strong left-wing sentiments in Sweden at the time.


‘Fernando’ is not based on any particular war, though the Spanish feel and reference to the Rio Grande seem to place it in Mexico. Björn has said that he "got this strong vision in my head of two old revolutionaries in Mexico, sitting outdoors one night, reminiscing”.

Dancing Queen

‘Dancing Queen’ is the simple story of a girl who is the “queen of the dance floor”, much like 1973’s ‘Nina, Pretty Ballerina’. Because the song was debuted at the gala concert the night before the wedding of Sweden’s King Carl XVI Gustaf and Silvia Sommerlath (Queen Silvia upon their marriage), it has often been thought that the song was written as a tribute to her, disregarding the fact that she was 33 at the time, not “young and sweet/only seventeen”.

Knowing Me, Knowing You

Björn has said that he “saw a man walking through an empty house for the last time as a symbol of divorce”, though at the time, none of the ABBA couples had separated.

I Am An A aka We Are A Simple Four-Letter Word

‘I Am An A’ was a tongue-in-cheek pseudo-autobiographical song to introduce the four members of the group performed in the concerts of the 1977 tour or Europe and Australia. Never recorded in the studio or released in any form. Parts of the chorus melody were later used in ‘Free As A Bumble Bee’ in 1978 (itself not released until 1994 on the box set Thank You For The Music), and finally in ‘I Know Him So Well’, in the musical Chess by Benny, Björn and British lyricist Tim Rice in 1984.

“The Girl With The Golden Hair”

ABBA’s mini-musical, first performed as the climax of the concerts on the European and Australian tour in 1977. The story of a small-town girl who dreams of becoming a famous singer, who leaves her hometown for the big city and fame, only to feel trapped and pushed around, with no control of her life.

In concert, the mini-musical included four songs: ‘Thank You For The Music’, ‘I Wonder (Departure), ‘I’m A Marionette’ and ‘Get On The Carousel’, with linking music and narration between the songs. Only the first three songs were recorded in the studio and released on ABBA – The Album in December 1977.

Such theatrical events at pop and rock concerts were pioneered in the early 1970s by artists like David Bowie and Alice Cooper.

Thank You For The Music

‘Thank You For The Music’ is the first song in “The Girl With The Golden Hair”. The Girl (sung by Agnetha) sings that she’s been blessed with the gift of music. In the original concert version, she sings that she's "I’m in love with them all [songwriters]/I mean Brian [Wilson], Chuck [Berry], John [Lennon] and Paul [McCartney].

I Wonder (Departure)

‘I Wonder (Departure)’ is the second song in “The Girl With The Golden Hair”. The Girl (sung by Frida) sings reminisces about her home town, and sings of the fear of leaving for the big city and fame.

I’m A Marionette

‘I’m A Marionette’ is the third song in “The Girl With The Golden Hair”. The Girl (sung by Agnetha and Frida in unison) sings of being treated like a puppet by her managers, the media, and fans.

Get On The Carousel

‘Get On The Carousel’ is the fourth song in  “The Girl With The Golden Hair”. The Girl (sung by Agnetha and Frida in unison, and alternating lines) sings of being trapped in the merry-go-round of fame, when all she wanted to do was dance and sing. Never recorded in the studio, parts of the live performance of the song filmed during the Australian tour in March 1977 is featured in ABBA – The Movie. Parts of the chorus melody ended up in the middle section of ‘Hole In Your Soul’ on ABBA – The Album.

The Name Of The Game

Björn has said that ‘The Name Of The Game’ is about a woman falling in love with her psychiatrist, though not necessarily Agnetha. In the June 2005 interview on the ABBA - The Movie Limited Special Edition DVD, director Lasse Hallström says that he requested the lyric specifically for the dream sequence in the film featuring a psychiatrist and patient.

The game played in the film clip is Fia or Fia med knuff, similar to the English game Ludo.


‘Eagle’ was inspired by the novel ‘Jonathon Livingstone Seagull’ by Richard Bach. Björn said he “was trying to capture the sense of freedom and euphoria” he got from reading the book. Often wrongly thought of as a tribute to the American country-rock group The Eagles.

Hole In Your Soul

Some of the names mentioned in ‘Hole In Your Soul’ are based on real people – Jerry is Jerry Goldberg, then head of Atlantic Records, who released ABBA’s records in North America; Sam was a real chauffeur and Annie was Jerry Goldberg’s secretary.


‘Chiquitita’ is a Spanish word that means “little girl”. Though not necessarily written for the event, the song was the perfect inclusion at the UNICEF concert A Gift Of Song at the United Nations building in New York in January 1979, for the International Year of the Child.

Lovers (Live A Little Longer)

‘Lovers (Live A Little Longer)’ was inspired by a newspaper article Björn read with the headline “Lovers Live Longer”.

The Winner Takes It All

The lyrics were loosely inspired by Björn and Agnetha’s breakup, reputedly written by Björn in around an hour after he’d opened up a bottle of whiskey. But as he said “there were no winners in our divorce”.

Super Trouper

A ‘super trouper’ is a giant spotlight used at stadium concerts.

Our Last Summer

Björn has said of ‘Our Last Summer’ that he was reminiscing about a romance in Paris in his younger years, “a melancholy memory of ‘the last summer of innocence’”, a theme he’d also covered in ‘Monsieur, Monsieur’, an early (and unreleased) version of ‘My Love, My Life’ from the 1976 album Arrival.

The Piper

‘The Piper’ was inspired by the Stephen King novel The Stand, about a Hitler-style leader and “the fear that there will come a time when people will want such a leader again”, as Bjorn has said.

The Visitors (Crackin’ Up)

‘The Visitors’ reflects the situation for dissidents in the USSR at that time. Björn has said that he “was trying to imagine what it must feel like to sit and wait for that ominous knock on the door, never knowing when it would come, and never being able to to be sure of anything”.

When All Is Said And Done

‘When All Is Said And Done’ is coloured by Benny's and Frida’s then-recent separation. Frida said that “all my sadness was captured in that song”.


‘Soldiers’ is about the fear of war, about the warmongers who force war on the populace, whether it’s justified or not. Especially topical at the time, with the then recent Soviet invasion of Afghanistan, and the ongoing Cold War between east (USSR and other communist nations) and west (USA and allies).

Two For The Price Of One

‘Two For The Price Of One’ is the story of a man answering an ad in the personal columns, finding that the offer is from a girl and her mother (though it’s not clear whether the mother is a chaperone, or joining in for a threesome).

Slipping Through My Fingers

‘Slipping Through My Fingers’ was inspired by Björn watching his and Agnetha’s then 7-year-old daughter Linda walking off to school, and his feelings of missing out on so much of her life so far.


Cassandra, in Greek mythology, was the daughter of King Priam and Queen Hecuba of Troy. The god Apollo, who loved Cassandra, granted her the gift of prophecy, but when she refused to return his love, Apollo made the gift useless by decreeing that no one would believe her predictions. Cassandra warned the Trojans of many dangers, including the wooden horse by which the Greeks entered the city, but she was dismissed as a madwoman. After the fall of Troy, she was dragged from her sanctuary in the temple of the goddess Athena by Ajax the Lesser and brought to the Greek camp. When the spoils were divided, Cassandra was awarded to King Agamemnon as his slave and mistress. Cassandra warned him that he would be killed if he returned to Greece; again she was not believed. Upon their arrival in Mycenae she and Agamemnon were murdered by Clytemnestra, queen of Mycenae and wife of Agamemnon.
All quotes from ABBA – The Complete Recording Sessions by Carl Magnus Palm.
'Cassandra' history from MSN Encarta

BACK | HOME | MAIL | Disclaimer

This site uses frames. If you came directly to this page from an external link, welcome to ABBA Omnibus. Please click here to go to the home page.

ABBA Omnibus
ABBA: Song by Song by Ian Cole - pre-order now