ABBA - sneaking up behind you with a message

Published June 22, 2018

For long-time observers of ABBA, the story of how the lyrics for The Visitors album's 'Slipping Through My Fingers' came about is well-known. The song deals specifically with Björn and Agnetha's seven-year-old daughter, Linda, as Björn told me when I interviewed him for ABBA - The Complete Recording Sessions (abbathecompleterecordingsessions.com). “I was watching Linda going away to school, turning around and waving, and I thought, ‘Now she has taken that step, she’s going away – what have I missed out on through all these years?’, which is a feeling I think every parent has.”

The song is featured in the Mamma Mia! musical, where the mother is reflecting over the fact that her daughter is now a young woman who's going to get married. I remember being at the London opening of the musical and being hit hard by this scene. I don't have any children, so I didn't relate to it on that literal level. For me, it was more about the impossibility of life itself: that we only have one go at it, and that however much we try to "capture every minute", it's gone. Eventually we will lose everyone we ever loved, on whatever level. Everything, everywhere is constantly slipping through our fingers.

I think the reason the song hit me so hard was that it caught me off-guard. And this, I think, is also part of the reason why ABBA's music resonates with so many people. ABBA entice you into their lair with ostensibly upbeat songs such as 'Mamma Mia' and 'Dancing Queen' and then they sneak up from behind and whisper the 'Slipping Through My Fingers' lyrics in your ear. In other words: unlike many other acts in the history of pop and rock, they don't advertise that they have something "important and profound" to relate. They hit you with it while you're unguarded, and that will often make it all the more powerful.

The full story of 'Slipping Through My Fingers' and every other ABBA song is in my book ABBA - The Complete Recording Sessions. Learn more and order your copy here: abbathecompleterecordingsessions.com

 

Agnetha and Björn recording at Polar Music Studio. Slipping Through My Fingers, about their daughter Linda, may affect you on many levels.