Part 12 (of 12): The legacy of the book

Published March 30, 2010

So, now that two decades have passed since the publication of ABBA - The Complete Recording Sessions, what is its legacy, if any? Clearly, judging by the reactions I've had over the years, the book meant a lot to large sections of the fan community. It appears many fans really enjoyed this chance to have some insight into the creative side of ABBA, which was the reason for writing book in the first place: to move away from the image of ABBA as some kind of kitschy group of divorced couples and insubstantial, fluffy Euro-hits, if only for a short while.

I think we (those of us interested in this side of the ABBA story) were lucky that the book was written when it was. Had anyone attempted to do this today, chances are they would not have had the same access to the former ABBA members; it is, in fact, very likely they would be dismissed out of hand. When I came along, I believe Björn and Benny were still a little puzzled by this renewed interest in ABBA; it was still fresh and intriguing for them. Although there had been a recent increase in interview requests and so on, the pressure on them and the endless reminders of the ABBA period weren't what they've become since then.

I believe the book project also had some impact on the Thank You For The Music box set and how it came to include some previously unreleased tracks. I would like to think that the discussions I had with Björn and Benny helped open up their minds to the possibility of letting the general public hear some of the music that had been left on the shelf all those years ago. Also, of course, the fact that I did such extensive research meant that there really were plenty of recordings up for consideration, rather than just a few which might have been the case if somebody else had been sent there to try to locate a few odd tracks without really knowing what they were looking for. If so, I'm sure even the ABBA fans who never cared much for the book itself would agree that it was a worthwhile project after all.

And for me personally, what is the legacy of the book? Well, two decades, millions of liner notes and a few more "mad" book projects later, I'm still here! After the publication of The Complete Recording Sessions and the release of the box set, initially it didn't seem as if I would have very much hands-on involvement with the ABBA world. There were one or two one-off things, such as the publication of the Swedish adaptation of the book (Människorna och musiken) and the double-CD compilation Frida 1967-1972.

In late 1997, however, things began heating up again. Polar Music asked me to write the liner notes for the Agnetha compilation, That's Me, and then in the summer and autumn of 1998, I was hired to write the biographies and other texts for ABBA - The Site. Around the same time, Anders Hanser and I began serious discussions about the book that turned out to be From ABBA To Mamma Mia. Since then, working with different ABBA-related projects has been my main occupation. An incredible turn of events, to be sure, and one that I certainly hadn't expected. Although it hasn't exactly made me a rich man, it's worth quite a lot to be able to make a living working with things I really enjoy. It goes without saying that for me, this is one of the most important parts of the legacy of ABBA - The Complete Recording Sessions.