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Abba’s Bjorn Ulvaeus: Seeing people happy due to your writing is ultimate reward

The Abba singer-songwriter spoke to US musician Nile Rodgers about the band’s career on his new radio show.

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(Dominic Lipinski/PA)

(Dominic Lipinski/PA)

(Dominic Lipinski/PA)

Abba star Bjorn Ulvaeus has said that seeing people “happy and moved” by something you have written is the “ultimate reward”.

The guitarist, singer and co-songwriter from the Swedish supergroup has recently launched a new radio show, titled Bjorn From Abba And Friends, on Apple Music Hits where he discusses the band’s music with friends and fellow musicians.

He was joined by the Chic frontman Nile Rodgers for the show’s first episode, where they talked about the secrets of hit-making and why Abba’s music has remained in the public consciousness.

During the episode, Ulvaeus reflected on his experience of watching the Mamma Mia! musical, which is based on the songs written by Ulvaeus and his fellow bandmate Benny Andersson. The pair also helped create the show.

He said: “The most fabulous thing is, for instance, when we did Mamma Mia the musical, to sit in an audience and see people being happy and moved by something that you’ve written.

“I mean, that is the ultimate reward, isn’t it?”

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Ulvaeus added that the group “never knew” when they had written a hit track but were “very careful” to ensure every part of a song was as good as they could make it.

“Never neglecting a bridge because we had a good chorus,” he explained.

“So we only wrote 12, 14 songs a year because the rest, 95%, was thrown away and we just kept the good stuff…

“But who the hell knows when they’ve written a hit? Nobody does.”

Rodgers, who is a Grammy award winner and chairman of the Songwriters Hall of Fame, noted that he felt Abba had withstood the test of time because their songs are “so good”.

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The Swedish band released their first album in 40 years in November (Baillie Walsh/PA)

The Swedish band released their first album in 40 years in November (Baillie Walsh/PA)

PA

The Swedish band released their first album in 40 years in November (Baillie Walsh/PA)

He said: “They’ve been ingrained into our souls on such a deep level that it is like The Beatles.

“You almost think of Abba as existing all the time. Just like we think of The Beatles existing all the time. You think of certain things just existing all the time.”

The American musician added that he believed the Swedish band achieved their success in the US as they had provided something that the audience did not know they needed at the time.

“It’s like you’re giving people something to feed off of that they actually didn’t know that they were hungry for until they experienced it”, he noted.

Other guests who will feature in upcoming episodes include Catherine Johnson, the British playwright who wrote the stage play of Mamma Mia! and the screenplay for the subsequent film.

The Swedish band, who parted ways in 1982 after eight hit records together, made a comeback in November with their first new music in nearly 40 years.

Their new record Voyage shot straight to the top of the UK album charts on release and became the fastest selling album of 2021 up to that date.

The full interview is available on Apple Music Hits.


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