Benny Andersson Band mini site

Benny Andersson Band · Story Of A Heart · An ABBA World mini siteTo celebrate the first international release by the Benny Andersson Band, Story Of A Heart, ABBA World is proud to present a new mini site dedicated to the band and the new album, along with the earlier catalogue by Benny Anderssons Orkester (BAO) and Benny Andersson solo.

Visit the mini site at

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3 Responses to “Benny Andersson Band mini site”

  1. Samuel Inglles Says:

    Hi Ian

    An article on Benny Andersson.
    Kind Regards
    Samuel Inglles

    The Weekend Australian (Sydney) – 18-19 July 2009 (Page 8)


    Secrets of the songbook

    Decades after ABBA last made a recording, Benny Andersson is still at the piano. Dan Cairns gets a lesson in songwriting from the master.

    In a long, single-storey building on the waterfront in Stockholm, the man responsible for co-writing songs that, collectively, have sold more than 370 million copies across the world is sitting at his grand piano, tickling the ivories.

    He is trying to explain the difference between a bad song and a great one. A familiar theme starts up and the words that have formed instinctively on my lips spill from my mouth: “If you’re all alone / When the pretty birds have flown / Honey, I’m still free / Take a chance on me.”

    “That,” Benny Andersson says, “is the good one.” Without looking down at the keys, the 62-year-old alters the melody after the chorus’s first two phrases, in the process discarding the second section’s repetition – a crucial component in the appeal of so much of ABBA’s music – and heading off into something altogether more mundane. “And that’s,” he concludes, “is the dead one. It means nothing to me. Now, if I play the first one, it speaks to me. We hear something that we feel familiar with, yet it’s not quite what we expected it to be.”

    That sense of familiarity, of melodies that seem somehow preordained (and pre-existent) yet novel, is at the core of the songs Andersson wrote with Bjorn Ulvaeus, which propelled ABBA to superstardom In the 1970s. Now, 27 years after the group last recorded together, Andersson has returned to the singles arena with a new song co-written with Ulvaeus and performed with Anni-Frid and Agnetha-like precision by Swedish singer Helen Sjoholm.

    To hear the Benny Andersson Band’s ‘Story of a Heart’ on the radio is to be spun back in time to the days when ABBA ruled the No.1 spot. The single has the same communicative clarity and conversational quality that made songs such as ‘Dancing Queen’, SOS’ and ‘The Winner Takes It All’ so immediately resonant.

    The album of the same name that marks Andersson’s first big label release for almost three decades contains tracks inspired by musical theatre and the Swedish folk music tradition (in which Andersson first learned the ropes), a mix that makes you return to the ABBA canon with renewed curiosity.

    In doing so, you become aware just how multifaceted the old songs are, how much they strain at the leash the pop charts placed on their writers. ‘Super Trouper’, in its sonic architecture, may be identifiably a song from 1980, but on a deeper level its structure is hymnal, its female harmonies are redolent more of church choirs than disco glitter balls.

    “We were a pop band and we made pop music … well, as good as we could,” Andersson says. “But a song such as ‘Thank You for the Music” does not belong to a pop group, or ‘Money, Money, Money’ for that matter.” Following a musical idea, of whichever genre, was never done with a particular result in mind, he says. It was, rather, all about graft and instinct.

    Surely the two things are incompatible? “But inspiration is overrated,” Andersson responds with a chuckle. “This is more like a real job. The inspirational part is when something pops up that I really like. And that keeps on rolling for a day or two. But then it’s another three months on the treadmill.

    “I have done a lot of things, sure, but not actually that many hours of music; maybe a total of 13, 14 hours, in 40 years. There are 700,000 zillion possibilities from just 12 notes.

    “Writing a song that means nothing easy. I mean, technically speaking, I could probably write five songs a day. But I have to hear myself playing something that I haven’t heard before and that I can spot with my body almost, rather than with my brain. There’s a communication there between me and myself, if that , makes sense.

    “That’s when inspiration enters the picture. Because it can take forever to come up with those four bars, eight bars, music that consists of more than just notes, if you see what I mean; that speaks to me. And from that I can work.

    “I know that I have maybe two days, if I’m lucky maybe three, of flow, where anything can happen. But it can take me months to find those eight bars.”

    One instance of this process – the slow gestation, the lightning striking – was ‘The Winner Takes It All’, a song seen by many as the definitive ABBA single: heartbreak, isolation, anguished lyrics, swelling crescendos, sudden lulls, a catch in the throat, doomed romance, not to mention the greatest snare-drum entry in the history of pop.

    “It’s the simplest song,” Andersson says. “It has two phrases, that’s it. And they just go round and round. Now it also has, around those two phrases, this counterpoint thing going on” – he plays the descending theme that opens the song, runs beneath the chorus and, modulated, responds to the verse’s vocal melody – “and without a doubt, without that it would not have been a song. Music is not only melody: music is everything you hear, everything you put together. But without the core of a strong and, preferably, original melody, it doesn’t matter what you dress it with, it has nothing to lean on.”

    For ages there were only the two phrases, the latter (the chorous) with each line following immediately after the one before. “And then one day,” Andersson continues, playing the song again, “we were out in the country and I suddenly played the chorus like this, pausing each time for the phrase to gather itself, and all of a sudden it was a song.

    “Bjorn and I played around with it for hours, just feeling that there was something in it that was talking to us. Then we recorded it, but still without the counterpoint, and it still was no good. It was only when, finally, I played this other part that it really made sense.”

    Leaning on a piano and involuntarily singing along while one of the most talented songwriters of all time guides you through his songs is a humbling experience that borders on the surreal, and getting your head around it is a struggle.

    These are songs, after all, that people across the world are word-perfect in, identify with and cherish. Their beloved status helps explain the colossal success of the stage and film versions of ‘Mamma Mia!’, yet the man who co-wrote them has no hint of grandness about him, no trace of haunter.

    The building in which meet – homely rather than lavish, filled with knick-knacks, paintings and flowers but, tellingly, no ABBA memorabilia – houses Andersson’s studio and the offices in which he oversees the still pressing affairs of the band he and Ulvaeus formed in 1972.

    He comes here most days, he says. “And every day is joyful, spending a couple of hours at the piano, following what’s going on around the world with ‘Mamma Mia!’, and I have hotel and racehorses. So I have things to take care of, a lot of administration, a lot of questions coming in.

    “I thought, we all thought, in 1982, we all said to each other, ‘Let’s call this…’, well, not call it a day, but Bjorn and I said, “We want o write this musical with Tim [Rice], it’s going to take us maybe two years, so we’ll just take a break while we do that.’ And we were all fine with that.

    “And it took about three or four years, from starting writing ‘Chess’ until it opened in 1986. Then we all said. “Well, why continue with ABBA?’ I thought, ‘That’s it for me; ABBA is over.’ And it was. And I have been able to stay away from it” – he laughs drily for a long time – “up until ‘Mamma Mia!’ started. I don’t mind it, though.”

    I ask him if, when he attends performances of ‘Mamma Mia!’, he can still be ambushed by the songs, still be swept back to the time they were written. “The thing is,” he replies, “I don’t connect to the music as such. When I go to see a performance, there is no bit of me that’s saying, ‘Wow, that’s a part of me in there.’ Never. It could be anyone’s music.”

    Surely it gets to him in some way? “Sometimes I’ll get moved by, say, ‘The Winner Takes It All’. Sometimes. There’s a resonance to it, about what it was originally; maybe also some sort of, not sadness, but a nostalgic feeling, of, you know, ‘All right, we weren’t that bad; we were quite good, we did good stuff.’ ”

    Is he really as sanguine about it all – the success, the fame, the hits – as he seems? “ I feel that everything that has happened to me – ABBA, my band now, ‘Mamma Mia!’, all that – it’s a lot of work, but plenty off people do a lot of work,” he says. “And this isn’t like working in a coalmine or driving a bus. But it is work. And the reason it works well for me is because I’m lucky enough to have this talent to tell the bad stuff from the good.

    “Now, that’s not my doing, is it? But I know that I have that. And that’s luck.”

    He pauses. “Is that something to boast about: that you’re lucky?”

    “Benny Andresson: quite good,” he says; ‘he did good stuff.”

    Someone tell the man.

    The Sunday Times

    Benny Andersson Band’s ‘Story of A Heart’ is available in Australia on the Polydor label.

    Mamma Mia! returns for a national tour in October, starting in Sydney.

  2. Samuel Inglles Says:

    Hi Ian

    I used the website to translate the Benny Andersson Swedish article from the link:

    This is what it kind of came up came up with.

    Kind Regards
    Samuel Inglles

    With vemodet as constant companion

    Published 2009-07-26 13: 39

    yesterday, the author Jerker Virdborg taxi with ­Barbro Lindgren. Today he brings with him a CD to Benny ­Andersson, the second of the two major 70-talsikoner which led us to know what art can be.

    – Det is rarely any want to talk with me on the music now for the period. The most ask only on what it feels like after the success of “Mamma Mia!” or of what I will do in the future.
    We are on Skeppsholmen in Stockholm, in a large place with open windows. A CD player in oiled, Benny entering a snus while we sit back. From the speakers rivers Oskar Lindbergs deafening beautiful’ old fäbodpsalm “from valleys, and we sit silent and only listens.

    If you think that Lindbergs king had a look, would be a gaze ageing, saturated of life experience. A gradually winding melody in moll sham in kyrk­orgel, now for the period usually heard on funerals. But – believe it or not – during världsturnén 1979 did Benny precisely this psalm which intro to the whole Abbas show, and sent mollklangerna crash straight into the diskolåten “Voulez-vous”. Talk about kontrastverkan. Fixed a very logical such.

    Lindbergs king might as well as sound intro to Benny Andersson long musical career. Here are the two main elements which run continuously by all he has written, whether it has been pop, tarantella, pop, progression, musical, Polish, or just disco: melodiken and vemodet.

    The association of these two elements will find, perhaps also an important explanation for the unique strong qualities skills music has to offer in comparison with literature, film or image-and the performing arts. But we return to.
    – Jag played fäbodpsalmen the time for the audience would know where we came from, that we were bred with the Swedish about. And of course, vemodet – I bear a great deal of it, and music that I have been that writing, it is also. Also, apparently pleased songs that “Honey honey”, “Mamma Mia!” or “Dancing Queen’. But it is incredibly well hidden behind all choirs and arrangements.

    Benny is kind and warm to the way, and has been remarkably good memory for both Music and events.
    – Jag can not my jazz, I can not my soul, I can not my blues either. But the Swedish musiktraditionen I feel at home in too. I would never want live abroad and it has a lot to do with how music here at home sounds.

    We talk more about vemodet, that it is perhaps a feeling which mainly about because – about one hundred years, we are all and all we know away. In the meantime, we hear “spring” of Edvard Grieg, in English ka­llad “The last spring”, a clear message that, for all, in the end, will a spring as will be the last.
    – Det here is pure dynamite. Look, hairs travelling on your sleeves. As this may sound I feel inuti … Perhaps it is so that all music and all art as it is nånting with, it has vemodet which foundations. I believe the art in particular is of comfort to us people and that all good music perhaps indicate a little on this of how it is to be found.

    The gravity of Benny Andersson music usually mentioned a little in passing. Often it instead about how much money he served, or how almost unbelievable known he is all over the world.

    There is a particularly around Abba mytologisering and nostalgic kitschighet which hides the fact quite demanding the content of many songs.

    The declaration can be sought back to the 1970s Abba constantly received two objections directed against them. One was that Björn Ulvaeus and Benny only simple snodde together what the audience wanted. Two examples of calculation refute quickly the accusation.

    Since Benny which tioåring received a piano of their parents spent he instrument a purely extremely interest. On frukostrasterna in school ran he forthwith to aulan to play before the next lesson began, and as soon as he came in from school, piano. When Abba”s great success followed in the middle of the 1970s had he had had the opportunity sit at their klaviaturer under more than one-tenth of their lives.

    From stereo heard Johann Sebastian Bachs concert for cembalo and bows of f-moll. Bach which said: “I have had be frequent; there is equal frequent shall come as far.”
    – Det is such a heat in what he has done, I listen constantly on his music, like h-mollmässan or violinkonserterna. And I like the where the quote. Because if you doeth enough and does not give up, it will then be the result, is accurate, it can be come a long way.

    – Det is also, of course of congenital talent. But it exhibit not only together a let just. In 45 years, I have written around 24 albums, i.e. approximately 16 hours of music. It will be just twenty minutes music – per year.
    – Och I have not done so much other over all these years than sitting at piano and tried and tried. It may take me a whole month to get the eight stages is good enough.

    The second objection against Abba concerned to the evenly appeared to provocative please and good. And unaware. Always pleased up, never some scandals or sharp statements. Such a wanted large parts of an aware and questioning young generation, my during proggen and point, not like identify with.

    For many people, it is populärmusikens timeless characteristics that it must send out a signal resistance and exclusion to be attractive. And demands are high. How it sounds is however not all times as important. Families with children of the and­ra hand beloved Abba, group charged on lättsjungna refränger and seemed quite harmless.
    – Jag may lack that I did not participate more in public debates in sixty-and 1970 for I am interested to monitor what is happening in concerned. But at the time, I was entirely filled with the how it would allow. Here we have a song, how should we deal with the best way? It was only the one in force.

    – Och we did indeed our utmost, all my time them of that songwriting ability and studioarbete. But it is a correct analysis of us which links. For those who were looking for the feeling of rebellion or objection there was not much to download for us. However, when I was a member of Hep stars in the 1960s, then, it was perfectly island, almost as a war.

    The American neurologen Daniel J. Levitin gives in his book “This is Your Brain on Music” several fascinating lessons on the brain and music, and presents inter alia a theory that rhythms mainly affect the body, while tones and tunes activates brain and emotions. If one of the great merits of works of art in general is that we with their help can meet ourselves in depth, so there is no some who incite these meetings as ocensurerat, in-depth of music. Or for the part: equal gåtfullt.

    Music activate all important parts of the brain and releases dopamine, but why certain composers is so much better than others in to give an hireling to a känsloupplevelse know it yet very little about.

    A hypothesis is that an element of a musical shaping is of much greater importance than the other: melody. If music is a door which at favourable circumstances allowing us to our feelings, melody the precious key that swifter lock.

    Furthermore, if we, as Benny, legerar melodiken with sorrow, or great sadness – and that is considerably more difficult, because it requires coverage – it will music Existential densities really substantial. This means that a great melodiker may, and should be, a highly exalted position in a society, and this in more than a sense of the word.
    – Jag know what a fantastic force which can be in a tune and it is a privilege to work with something which affects so many people so strongly. The best is if we can keep a tune as simple as possible, and then dress in the different things after the event. And it must differ from all other tunes, and by that I mean I mean everyone, it is a point of honour, although I do not know if I have succeeded all times.

    A grateful example, everything we have talked about is the let us to listen to in conclusion. Over and above all the classic and almost sönderspelade songs associated with Benny Andersson so is he and Björn Ulvaeus namely also men behind Swedish musikhistorias darkest song: “The day before you came”. Let was Abbas very last – and best – recording, made late in August 1982.

    The text, as sjungs of a focus and as well as switched off Agnetha Fältskog depicts a woman’s dismal repetitive everyday life in the office and at home, the day before the large hands – she will meet the man in his life.

    But it is something that is not true. Instead of being a glädje­sång on closed solitude so powered let forward of the overwhelming great sadness. The only conclusion that can be drawn is therefore: When she met man became increasingly even worse. Fear, confinement, ill-treatment – we do not know what it is about, but livsläget will be, if possible even more intolerable.
    – Men this are organised, sophisticated enough, only by harmonierna and mollkadenserna,-by Anni-Frid Lyngstad’s obligatstämma which could equally be included in a Baroque-LARGO of is or Albinoni.

    – Den here is not vemodig, it is sad. That is something special to this one, the seize on me than today, and it is due to both the text and the way Agnetha sing. It is rarely I feel like that faced with something which I have written itself.

    That it on the surface so pleased and ones Abba in the last few creative moment managed shape how the romantic dream – as on so incredibly sharply runs through the whole our culture, not least through advertising – equally may mean destruction and stifling nightmare, it was well the last many expected a few years earlier. Those on the other hand noticed

    Bennys choice of Lindbergs king over the where touring 1979, or other small markings over the years, was not as surprised. “The day before you came” TYPIFIED therefore also clearly the distance between the förförståelse which often’ enclosing’ the links, or for the part populärmusik skills, and what is to hear in the works, if the fact listening.

    CD-disc is at an end and we travel us.
    – Det where we said earlier is not true right, “says Benny with hot glance, while we are leaving room.
    – Alla we who are now living is lost if one hundred years, that is true. But that we are creating, in other words art, it remains. If it is good enough. And there will always be new tunes to write, despite the fact that so much is made. It is Parliament to bear in mind.

    Jerker Virdborg

  3. Sara Says:

    I recently came across your blog and have been reading along. I thought I would leave my first comment. I don’t know what to say except that I have enjoyed reading. Nice blog. I will keep visiting this blog very often.


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