The Mexican Revolution Meaning of ABBA’s "Fernando"
ABBA Singing Fernando
Fernando was the most successful ABBA hit single. It is one of a small group of singles that sold more than 10 million copies (including Elton John’s ‘Candle in the Wind’, and Bing Crosby’s ‘White Christmas’). In Australia, performing the single on live TV, the audience was larger than the number of people who watched the first moon landing. Fernando was released by ABBA in November 1975 and went ‘viral’ in 1976, selling 6 million copies that year alone. It hit #1 in thirteen nations and was the best-selling single of all time in Australia. The song was an epic victory for ABBA in Australia, with Australians being the most fanatical of all ABBA fans.
Even though Fernando later appeared on the ABBA “Greatest Hits”, “Arrival” and “ABBA Gold: Greatest Hits” albums, it was not an ABBA song in the beginning. Fernando was composed for one of the members of the group on her solo album, Frida’s (Anni-Frid Lyngstad) ‘Frida Ensam’ – a Swedish album title meaning ‘Frida Alone’. Frida opens the ABBA version of the song and sings it alongside the other ABBA female vocalist - Agnetha/Anna (Agnetha Faltskog).
Like many other ABBA songs it was composed by the two male members of ABBA, Björn Ulvaeus, and Benny Andersson along with Stig Anderson, ABBA’s manager. (Ulvaeus, and Andersson did not just write songs for ABBA and its members, they wrote songs for many other Swedish artists.) The song’s first title was “Tango”. Then apparently it was called “Hernandez”. A last minute change was made prior to recording in August 1975 - this is when the name “Fernando” was used. The song was originally a love story in Swedish about Fernando having lost his one true love.
Change of Story Line
The English version has totally different lyrics and a totally different story line to the Swedish version. Bjorn Ulvaeus wrote the English lyrics. According to an interview he gave in December 2008 in Australia, Ulvaeus was painting a picture of two war veterans reliving their past when they were young fighters under Emiliano Zapata in a battle of the Mexican Revolution of 1910. Apparently Ulvaeus thought the original lyrics were too boring and sought a story line that matched the name ‘Fernando’. He said he made the story up, it is not based on anything that actually occurred during the Mexican Revolution.
ABBA Arrival Album
Benny and Bjorn in 2013, Guests at Eurovision
"There was something in the air that night, the stars were bright, Fernando
They were shining there for you and me for liberty, Fernando
Though we never thought that we could lose, there's no regret
If I had to do the same again, I would my friend, Fernando
If I had to do the same again, I would my friend, Fernando"
Fernando was the single most successful single that ABBA produced. Interestingly it was a song that came relavtively early in the band's career. They had many later hits that did not sell as well as Fernando did, but nonetherless were incredibly successful. The ABBA story is fascinating, not just because of the purity and simplicity of the design of the music, lyrics and harmonies, but because of the personal lives of the band members.
"The Winner Takes It All" - Written after the marriage break-ups
Do you think ABBA was one of the all time great bands?
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