Rich Wilhelm

Late Night Thoughts on Listening to a Swedish Country Band Play ABBA Songs

In Writing on March 15, 2013 at 3:05 am

I have the time it takes for me to listen to ABBA Our Way by Nashville Train to explain what I’d like to do here.

ABBA Our Way is a delight, by the way. It is a collection of ABBA songs, all done up nice and country-style by a Swedish band. The album was released in 1978 on RCA Records. Here are the brief liner notes, as penned by Lasse Westmann in Stockholm, sometime in 1976:

Special thanks to Benny Andersson, Bjorn Ulvaeus and Stig Anderson. They are a fabulous songwriterteam and without their songs this record wouldn’t exist. It was a hard job to pick twelve songs out of the rich production of great ABBA hits. We’ve tried to give the songs the shape of Country style and we hope you will enjoy this album. I would also like to mention the boys behind the instruments and the girls in the choir. In my opinion the best you can get in Sweden today, so I’m very pleased that they’re all here on this record. During the sessions we’ve had a fantastic help from ‘Brumme,’ who served us coffee, other refreshments and helped us with almost everything. We had a great time while we recorded, so I hope you will have a good time when you listen.

I have owned the ABBA Our Way LP for many years, though back in the late ’70s, I was entirely unaware of its existence. This is a shame: a country-inflected album of ABBA covers would have been an intergenerational sensation in my family, though at the time I probably would have scoffed at the notion of countrified ABBA tunes.

But, at 47, I’m just too middle-aged to worry about what is or is not cool. Versions of Swedish pop tunes that would sound just right on Hee-Haw work fine for me these days.

I was a kid when the cream of Sweden’s country music players and singers hit the studio to record ABBA Our Way. Even in those days I considered myself a writer but I wrote strictly for fun. I filled up “write your own book” blank books with my goofy poems and extremely short stories and I drew pictures of the Richie Rich-styled mansion I’d live in when I was a grown-up famous writer, because, of course, all writers were fabulously wealthy and lived in homes with diamond-encrusted monograms on their gates.

As it happens, I am still a writer. I have worked for the same organization for 23 years, spending the last decade in a position the requires quite a bit of writing.

Make no mistake: I am grateful for making a living the way I do. Recently though, I’ve reached the conclusion that, one way or another, the writing for fun needs to happen again, if only for the sake of my sanity.

I know that many people don’t find writing to be very much fun and I get that. I think we can agree that certain activities are almost universally considered to be fun and some are not.

There is certainly no fun consensus on writing.

For me though, this seems like a good time to locate the fun in writing again. Since I’ve enjoyed the concept of writing a weekly column before (originally back in college, then 13 years ago when I first began blogging), I’m thinking I’ll try it again.

This is my first week. When I’m not writing, I’ll be drawing pictures of the mansion I’m going to live in when I grow up.

That’s the plan. So, as Nashville Train closes out ABBA Our Way with a down-home take on “Waterloo,” I’ll say good night. Hopefully, you’ll find me here again next week at this time.


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Patrick F. O'Donnell

writer, editor, general wordsmith and scribe

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