‘I Wonder How I Managed It All’: ABBA’s Agnetha Fältskog In 20 Quotes

‘I Wonder How I Managed It All’: ABBA’s Agnetha Fältskog In 20 Quotes

Few pop artists got to experience the ups and downs of pop superstardom like Agnetha Åse Fältskog. The ABBA singer, born on April 5, 1950, returned to the scene in 2013 with the album A, released almost 40 years after the Swedish group began their global conquest, and more than 45 after the release of her debut solo single. The late 2010s then brought the tantalizing possibility of new ABBA music, which arrived with the Voyage album in late 2021.

Here is a compilation of 20 of Agnetha’s most memorable quotes, reflecting her youth, the incredible success of ABBA, their personal relationships, her return to recording and what life is like for her in later years.

On her early days in Sweden, from her 1997 book, As I Am:

“I felt like an awkward country lass who’d come to the big city. The nervousness was different to the way I’d later feel with ABBA, when it was because expectations were so high. On the stairs down to the studio I suddenly heard the backing to my song being played by Sven-Olof Waldorf’s orchestra. My heart missed a beat. What a blast!” (1997)

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On the height of ABBAmania:

“It felt like the fans were going to eat me up. I was still a normal kid from Jönköping, but now I couldn’t go anywhere. When we were on tour, I longed for [my daughter] Linda. I had negotiated with our manager and the others that our tours would never last longer than two weeks, but this meant they had me down as cranky Agnetha. They thought I was demanding” (2014)

“Ninety-nine percent of my time is spent on my career and the other one per cent on partying” (1977)

On her relationship in ABBA with Frida Lyngstad:

“We helped each other a lot. If I felt I had a little cold, or Frida did, the other would work harder that night. During all of those times we worked so hard, through fevers and flu, and only ever cancelled two shows. The costumes were designed for us. I didn’t have the time to get involved with that, but Frida was more into it and had more time. We had to go and try everything and get measured, and I think they did a good job. Dancing in those platforms was OK, but I couldn’t do it today” (2013)

‘We saw a lot of each other’

“Articles have postulated that Frida and I hated each other from the start which is, in fact, pure nonsense. On the contrary, we saw a lot of each other out there in Vallentuna. The boys got on with writing and we stayed in, round at each other’s houses, singing and playing” (from As I Am, 1997)

On ABBA’s 1977 Australian tour:

“I was often worried that someone would get run over when they threw themselves in front of the car or hurled themselves at it and began pounding on it. Sometimes it got frightening, when we were forced to use excessive speed to get through the crowds” (1996)

On being asked on that Australian tour if it was true that she had the sexiest bottom in pop:

“How can I answer that? I don’t know, I haven’t seen it” (1977)

On her self-image, and the Australian tour in particular: 

“You watch yourself [on film] with very critical eyes: ‘Why didn’t you do it like that instead? Why didn’t you move a little more there?’ One thing I particularly noticed in Australia was that it makes no difference whether there are 5,000 or 50,000 in the crowd. I was still just as stressed and nervous” (1996)

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On ABBA’s ‘The Winner Takes It All’:

“Björn wrote it about us after the breakdown of our marriage. The fact he wrote it exactly when we divorced is touching really. I didn’t mind. It was fantastic to do that song because I could put in such feeling. I didn’t mind sharing it with the public. It didn’t feel wrong. There is so much in that song. It was a mixture of what I felt and what Björn felt but also what Benny and Frida went through” (2013)

A ‘happy’ divorce

“We always told the media that it was a ‘happy’ divorce, which of course was a front…obviously we all know there are no such things as happy divorces, especially when there are children involved. On top of that, ours was in the full glare of the media. But to this day I don’t regret splitting up. The reason behind our separation is one of those things I definitely don’t want to go into” (1997, As I Am)

On her 2013 album, A:

“I will always be compared with ABBA, with what was. I can only produce a good album, otherwise why would I do it? We had a joke about it. I said: ‘If I sound like an old woman, we won’t give it out.’ After a few times, I kept saying: ‘This is not good.’ So I trained and trained, took a couple of lessons, and suddenly on the third take it was there, and my voice sounds really young” (2013)

‘Your voice changes’

“I thought my previous record in 2004 [My Colouring Book] was going to be my last. It’s not very common that you do records when you get past 60. Your voice changes, and your body, and you don’t have the same energy” (2013)

On her modern-day life:

“I live on a farm and there is a little bridge to get to Stockholm. I live a normal life there with my pug Bella and my puppy Bruno. I chat to other dog walkers, I go shopping and out to restaurants with friends” (2013)

‘I was so tired’

“I don’t mind signing autographs as long as there’s not a queue forming. Maybe I was a recluse for some years. I was so tired once ABBA was over and just wanted to be calm and with my children. I married, was in ABBA, had my children, divorced, all in ten years. I wonder how I managed it, but I was young” (2013)

“I’m just a normal Swedish woman who spends time walking her dog and seeing her three grandchildren. I also have been written about like I’m very mysterious. I try every time to explain that I’m so normal. I’m not Garbo” (2013)

On what advice she, as an older woman, would give her teenage self:

“I would warn 16-year-old Agnetha that she will need stamina. This life gives you a lot, but it also takes. You can never be ill. Even if you have a fever you have to work. We had only two cancelled concerts during the ABBA tours” (2013)

‘Everybody wanted us’

“I would tell my younger self that winning the Eurovision Song Contest with ‘Waterloo’ in 1974 will be the most fantastic thing, but it will also bring problems. My daughter was only one year old, and when we had this enormous success everybody wanted us. It felt really bad leaving her, even though we always had good people taking care of her. By the time my son was born in 1977, we were all over the world” (2013)

On technology and studio trickery in 21st century pop music:

“We don’t need to use that, no. But it depends on what kind of singer you are. When there is a lot of dancing, that’s also nice to look at. Sometimes you have to do live appearances, and then it can be heard, that they’re not that good singers. There are a lot of artists that I love, and I think they’re really talented, and they’re good dancers as well. I’ve always wished that I could combine that. But I see myself as only a recording artist, and I think that we were that at most in ABBA. It’s not very easy to look at us, but to hear us, I liked that very much” (2013)

On the idea of an ABBA concert or recording reunion, before their 2018 announcement that they had recorded new music:

“I think we have to accept that it will not happen, because we are too old and each one of us has their own life. Too many years have gone by since we stopped, and there’s really no meaning in putting us together again” (2013)

On what she does if she’s driving and hears an ABBA song on the radio:

“I don’t turn it off. There were, really, some years when we’d had enough with ABBA music. Both Frida and I had some years after we stopped when we never listened to it. But then some years go by, so it’s ok to listen to it again” (2013)

Listen to the best of ABBA on Apple Music and Spotify.

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