Missing song titles

Published March 31, 2010


In issue number 31 (March 1995) of the fanzine International ABBA Express, fan Mark Walton wrote a review of ABBA - The Complete Recording Sessions. At the end of the review, he listed a number of titles of unreleased songs that had been reported over the years, yet weren't mentioned in the book. There was a good reason that they hadn't been included: I had never heard of them before, and they never showed up on any documents during my research.

Mark's book review then ended with this plea: "In the book, Carl Magnus clearly states that many facts have been forgotten by all those concerned and that many working titles were never written down on recording documents. However, through the pages of 'International ABBA Express', would Carl Magnus be willing to comment on the above titles, perhaps to shed some light on them, or not as the case may be?"

In the following issue (number 32, September 1995), my theories on those missing song titles were printed. Since then, I have noticed that questions about the titles Mark mentioned in his review have cropped up from time to time. For what it's worth, then, here are those theories again, as originally printed in the International ABBA Express.

Please note that that's all they are: theories, or educated guesses at best.

For the sake of readability, in the following list I have written my answers from issue number 32 directly after each of the song titles as mentioned by Mark Walton in the previous issue. I have also taken the liberty of updating some of the answers, in an effort to make things a little clearer. At the end of the list I have added my reply to a direct question from Mark about four titles mentioned in John Tobler's book, ABBA Gold - The Complete Story.

The list

Mark Walton: 'Dancing In The Moonlight' is somewhat legendary, probably originating in 1979 when a music paper reviewer (probably from either NME or Melody Maker in the UK) stated "ABBA have a classic single in the can called 'Dancing In The Moonlight'. Will somebody release it please". Obviously the suggestion is that the reviewer had actually heard this "track". After that everyone was talking about it, some saying that it was a slower version of 'Summer Night City'.

Carl Magnus Palm: From the description above, this sounds very much like it should be 'Summer Night City'. The notion that it should be a slower version of that song, might stem from some journalist hearing the edited out vocals/piano/strings introduction, unreleased at the time, and then this 'incident' being twisted into a myth about an unreleased track, à la the Opus 10 story.

MW: 'The Devil In Miss Jones' was again mentioned in an edition of NME by a journalist who had been in the studio at Polar to interview Benny and Björn. He said that it was a working title of a song that was being recorded for Voulez-Vous.

CMP: If one counts the syllables in this title, one might conclude that it could possibly be a working title for 'The King Has Lost His Crown' or 'If It Wasn't For The Nights'.

MW: 'No Man's Land' was in the track list of the Voulez-Vous album as printed in the April 1979 newsletter from the official British ABBA Fan Club.

CMP: Possibly a working title for 'As Good As New' or 'Voulez-Vous'.

MW: 'Losers In Love' was also in a track list, this time for Super Trouper in 1980, in a fanzine called The ABBA Stockcupboard.

CMP: Sounds more like the theme for the lyrics to 'The Winner Takes It All' than an actual working title.

MW: 'Out Of Sight' was given out in yet another fanzine (the name of which eludes me) and the writer (Delia Smith) clearly states that she'd heard part of it being recorded when she'd been allowed into the studios in 1982. She claims that it was very punchy and a cross between 'You Owe Me One' and 'On And On And On'.

CMP: A cross between 'You Owe Me One' and 'On And On And On' would be a fair description of 'I Am The City', wouldn't you agree? Given that 'Harry'/'Hurry' is the only working title we know of for 'I Am The City', it sounds plausible that it acquired a more "singable" transitory working title somewhere along the way. The phrase "Out of sight" could possibly have been sung over the line that ended up as "[you] let me be".

MW: Other titles that were passed from fan to fan include 'In The Can', 'Our Island', 'It's Better Now' (said to be a different version of 'As Good As New') and also 'Going Strong' from The Visitors sessions.

CMP: 'In The Can' - This sounds very much like a misunderstanding. The title is of course an expression that means that a particular recording has been finished, awaiting possible release.

'Our Island' - An improbable working title. Another misunderstanding, perhaps? A reference to Viggsö - the holiday island where Björn and Benny wrote many ABBA songs - mysteriously turning into "an unreleased track"?

'It's Better Now' - Not at all improbable as a working title for 'As Good As New'. A theory supported by the fact that we are unaware of any working titles whatsoever for this song.

'Going Strong' - Another working title? Syllable-wise it matches 'Crackin' Up', as in the full title for 'The Visitors': 'The Visitors (Crackin' Up)'.

MW: In the book ABBA Gold—The Complete Story by John Tobler, he mentions rumours from 1988 about ABBA recording four new songs: 'It's Been Swell', 'Something On My Mind', 'It's Alright Darling' and 'I Just Wasn't Thinking'. Was this just a rumour or was there any truth in the story, even if it was just a proposal that they should record any such songs?

CMP: Björn dismissed these titles and the entire story as complete rubbish. It should be noted, however, that this story was printed in at least one fanzine at the time, so it obviously wasn't something that Tobler himself dreamed up. But the ultimate conclusion has to be that the story was made up by someone, for whatever twisted reasons.