Benny and Björn appear in BBC Agnetha documentary

Agnetha in the studio from the BBC documentary 'Agnetha: ABBA and after'
Agnetha in the studio from the BBC documentary ‘Agnetha: ABBA and after’

A BBC documentary, celebrating the career of Agnetha Fältskog, was broadcast for the first time on UK television last night.

Agnetha: Abba and After, which follows Agnetha’s extraordinary musical journey from its beginnings in the mid-60s when she was just 15, through the ABBA years, to the recording of her latest album, A, features interviews with both Benny Andersson and Björn Ulvaeus.

Björn and Benny both contributed to the documentary
Björn and Benny both contributed to the documentary

Speaking of Agnetha’s pre-ABBA solo work:

Björn: “I remember hearing Agnetha’s first single on the radio. There was something so special about her voice and the fact that she had written that song herself  – it was magic.”

Benny: “She did a couple sort of back to back, both good songs. She did some good stuff, you know, singing in harmony with herself.”

On meeting Agnetha:

Björn: “We did a TV show together and she and I had a duet together. That was a magical moment. That evening was when it actually happened, we fell in love and then shortly after that we were a couple.”

Benny: “Just an ordinary sweet girl who happens to have this talent. She can write music and she can sing.”

Björn: “So there we were, the four of us, and not having a single thought about starting a group together. No, that was far from our minds, you know.”

On their first collaboration together:

Benny: “We had this terrible experience, we did a show together the four of us.”

Björn : “It was the most stupidest idea ever. And it was dreadful, absolutely dreadful.”

Benny: “But we had a little bit in the middle of that show where we played what we wrote.”

Björn: “Benny and I had recorded a single together where the girls sang in the choruses. They sort of took over as it sounded much better with them and that hit…while we were on the tour with the cabaret act, [it] suddenly struck and we had a number one with that. But if you listen to that you would not hear the ABBA of the future.” (Ice’s note: Björn was referring to Hej gamle man).

On becoming ABBA:

Benny: “Why don’t we do what we really like and write pop songs?”

Björn: “Why don’t we do a single in English? That’s what we should do. And why don’t we ask the girls to sing on it too? So that’s what we did and we called it, People Need Love.”

Benny: “That became a hit here, a little [hit] in Holland and a little [hit] in Germany, so we felt we were on the right track.”

On Eurovision:

Benny: “That’s why we entered Eurovision to make people outside Sweden aware that there was a band from Sweden who can record some decent music.”

Björn: “We had a song that wasn’t the usual Eurovision stuff. I had a funny star shaped guitar, people would remember us I thought, but I don’t think anyone of us thought that we would win the competition.”

Benny: “Well I bet a hundred quid on it. I did. Good odds, 12-1 or something, I think.”

On why Agnetha didn’t write more songs for ABBA:

Björn: “All through our time with ABBA, Benny and I wanted Agnetha to write much more than she did because she has written so many fantastic songs. And we said to her, please why don’t you come up with a couple of songs for this album?”

Benny: “Like the first two albums she wrote a song for each album. Maybe she felt like a bit intimidated by us.”

On the ABBA sound:

Björn: “There might have been songs that we had one of them in mind when writing it, but mostly it was a matter of “Agnetha has two songs, so now its my turn isn’t it?”

Benny: “The good thing was when they were singing together. We all started to know how far we can go. How high can you sing? How low can you sing? Where can we put this so it sounds at its best?”

Björn: “That’s so much part of the secret why ABBA is still here today, why you are interviewing me today.”

On live performances:

Björn: “Frida was more at home on stage than Agnetha was. She was never quite relaxed, she was kind of frightened to go on stage every now and then. I wasn’t too keen on being on stage myself, so I completely understand her. If she might have been frightened going on stage, of course once she was there, there was all this warmth, fantastic response coming from the audience that makes you forget.”

Benny: “I was perfectly happy just sitting by the piano playing along and letting the women do the work, which they actually did, they were the face, we were just there playing along, Björn and I.”

Björn: “As far as I know she was never really trying to be sexy. She was just sexy.”

On the breakdown of Bjorn and Agnetha’s marriage and The Winner Takes It All:

Björn: “At the time I might have you know, been irritated sometimes that we could have been doing more things than we actually did. To be together with your child…compare that to doing promotion in Stuttgart? In retrospect, ugh, what is the best…well it’s easy isn’t it?”

Björn: “The fact that we were separating was ever so much worse than what the press wrote. That’s the way we saw it.”

Benny: “It’s not like The Winner Takes It All, that’s not how it happened at all. In a situation like that I think everyone’s a loser. But it was powerful, a good song, one of our best I think.”

Bjorn: “I presented the lyric and everyone was slightly teary eyed, and then she started singing and oh my god that was magic, so fantastic.”

Björn: “There was not one winner in the case of us, so it’s pure fiction. But going through a divorce is difficult as anyone would know who has done it and er, it makes you think about it’s like a failure, yeah, it’s difficult and er, maybe that was one way of getting it out of my system. To write a lyric like that and have her sing it was like cleansing in a way. We got it out in a big way!”

On ABBA taking a break:

Benny: “It was gradual and it began that year ’82.”

Björn: “And we felt that we were not having as much fun anymore. It’s fantastic the way we organically came together naturally and then gradually it stopped, just the way it should be.”

On Agnetha post ABBA: 

Benny: “You get spoilt having good songs to sing and then, all of a sudden, you have almost good songs to sing.”

Benny: “The media has tried to create something about Agnetha, being a Greta Garbo type of person, hiding away from everything, which is totally bullshit.”

'A' by Agnetha. The new album.
‘A’ by Agnetha. The new album.

On Agnetha’s voice on her new album A:

Björn: “It’s slightly lower now, but it has a lot of feeling and expression, so yes it’s as good but in a different way.”

Benny: “And I think that they’ve dealt with that really well on this record. That she is, her voice is, more mature and she is not ‘up there’, you know, as far as you can go all the time, like she was with ABBA.”

The hour-long programme, which was filmed during Agnetha’s promotional visit to London earlier this year includes a brief clip of her appearance on stage at the nightclub G.A.Y. together with behind-the-scenes footage of the making of the new album. It also broadcasts her first meeting with Gary Barlow. Others interviewed along with Benny and Bjorn include Tony Blackburn, Sir Tim Rice, Ingmarie Halling and record producers, Peter Nordahl and Jörgen Elofsson.

If you can access BBC’s iPlayer service, the documentary can be viewed again until Tuesday 18 June 2013 by following the link below.

Gary Barlow who duets with Agnetha on 'I Should Have Followed You Home' meets his duet partner for the first time
Gary Barlow meets his ‘I Should Have Followed You Home’ duet partner for the first time

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11 Replies to “Benny and Björn appear in BBC Agnetha documentary”

  1. Thanks Ice – this is great to see since we can’t see it here in the US 🙁 I have a question. When Bjorn says this:

    “Benny and I had recorded a single together where the girls sang in the choruses. They sort of took over as it sounded much better with them and that hit, while we were on the tour with the cabaret act suddenly struck and we had a number one with that. But if you listen to that you would not hear the ABBA of the future.”

    What song is this he’s referring too?

    Thanks!

  2. Randy – the track Björn refers to in this quote is ‘Hej gamle man’, which became a hit for the foursome in 1970.

  3. Hey there
    I´d love to see that documentary aswell, but as I am from Germany the link does not work :O( has anybody a tiop for me?? Thank you so much in advance!
    Cheers
    Vera

  4. Sorry to read that Vera but as the article states:

    “If you can access BBC’s iPlayer service, the documentary can be viewed again until Tuesday 18 June 2013…”

    The good news is that the documentary will be shown outside the UK as well and I hope Germany is one of the lucky nations!

  5. Charmingly, Beautiful, delightful, quality documentary.

    Also I expect Frida wasn’t in it because that would have made it into an Abba documentary.

  6. Excelent documentary,for a change I can`t fault the BBC. Very interesting to hear Agnetha being so frank about things,and laid to rest all the rumours of such dischord between the four band members.
    Both Bjorn and Benny spoke very well of Agnetha,and I got the impression that all four still are good friends,and always have been, Bjorn gave the impression that he still thinks a lot of her…nice to see.
    Would still be nice to see them altogether again,but i can`t see it happening. Finally,Agnetha looked fantastic, she was a stunner in her younger days,but even now in her 60`s, she still hasn`t lost her looks or charm,as indeed her voice. I have no idea how she keeps her looks,but however she does it….keep doing it.

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