ABBA – “The Day Before You Came”
Abba’s second-last single is mundane and spooky, terrified and tender and startlingly original – a song about an office worker which dares to empathise? “Fitter Happier” made by humans? Quite an achievement, even if at 19 years’ reach it’s the unpredictably dated details you pick up on, of offices full of stray papers and 9.15-5 working hours. Even if, too, the overall mood is numb and haunted, Agnetha faltering over the details of her past life, seeing it through the wrong end of a telescope. “I suppose…I think….I must have….”

What’s getting in between the singer and the song is the “You” of the title, the gap that must be filled, that she didn’t even know was there, this enormous indistinct life-completing You whose presence in the song is announced by synthesised angels, screaming. Hearing that undead choir we shudder, what were they thinking this Swedish pop band, perhaps we scrabble to our biographies and imagine two divorced men at the end of their rope trying to write love songs with iced-over hands.

It’s tempting sometimes to imagine “You” as, I don’t know, Death or something, which is a silly way of hearing, an attempt to duck out of taking “The Day Before You Came” as a love song. A subjectless love song which says that love is something we use to prise open our routine oyster lives and that once opened up you can’t shut them again. A fearful love song where the throat closes around the lover’s name. A thin love song which zipping tight the laptop with dew on the grass outside seems, awfully, relevant.