Abba Dances Into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame
My oldest son was a toddler the first and only time I saw Abba. It was September 22, 1979. He fell asleep in the bleachers at the San Diego Sports Arena around the time the band called up children from area schools to sing "Thank You for the Music." I remember looking around the acoustically imperfect arena. The scene was a deliriously happy sea of white faces. It was a Pentacostal moment for a certain pop music genre. In succeeding decades, most would compare the band's output to early and middle period Beatles: tuneful, accessible, meticulously crafted.
The band was ABBA, and today the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame announced that ABBA would be remembered in the Hall as one of the inductees for 2010.
If the film and Broadway show Mama Mia! aren't convincing enough, ABBA's sales accomplishments are. With 370 million records sold, and still selling 2-4 million records a year, ABBA is the second best-selling band in history and the second best-selling pop artist.
The distinctive sheen of ABBA's sound is still an envied achievement, despite the technical limitations of the time. The perfect timbre of mostly female vocal harmony and fluent pop melody lines is a lasting tribute to producer/performers Benny Andersson, Björn Ulvaeus and engineer Michael B. Tretow.
The band's disbanding is a continuing source of anguish. The lyrics to "The Day Before You Came" could well have been written about the end of the performers' short but prolific time on the world stage.
Undoubtedly I must have read the evening paper then
Oh yes, I'm sure my life was well within its usual frame
The day before you came
Rounding out this year's awards were Genesis, Jimmy Cliff, The Hollies and The Stooges. No doubt they deserve equal treatment on this page, but this hagiographer is spent.
Did you see ABBA on one of their rare tour dates? This web site lists tour dates and cities. If you, like my son Blake, missed it, good memories will be reprised at the Waldorf Astoria induction ceremony on March 15, 2010, which will air live on fuse.tv.
For more on sponsoring the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame Foundation and the stunning I.M. Pei-designed building in Cleveland, visit www.rockhall.com. The extensive web site includes a complete inductee list.
Photo by Polar Music courtesy of Wikipedia