Bring back some good or bad memories


January 7, 2024

20 Amazing Photographs From ABBA’s 1977 Tour Mini-Musical “The Girl With the Golden Hair”

When ABBA were planning their first major tour, scheduled to take place in Europe and Australia between January and March 1977, Björn Ulvaeus and Benny Andersson were provided with the perfect opportunity to dip their toes in stage-musical waters. Since they wanted the tour to offer something more than just a string of hits, they got the idea to put together a mini-musical. The plan was to make it a 20–25-minute extravaganza that could end the main show in a spectacular way, before the encores. After finishing work on the Arrival album, which was released in October 1976, Björn and Benny began putting together what was to become The Girl With The Golden Hair. By necessity, the plot had to be simple, while still lending itself to dramatic story-telling. Quite possibly, there was also the thought of keeping it within the world of music, which the whole group could relate to. What they finally came up with was a storyline “about a girl wanting to get famous, becoming famous and then seeing the downside of it,” as Björn puts it.

When the tour began in Oslo, Norway, on January 28, 1977, every piece was in place for the mini-musical. Since only those who attended the concerts more than 30 years ago have ever seen The Girl With The Golden Hair in full, here is a detailed depiction of its structure.

The narrator would begin with an introduction in rhymed verse, concluding with the couplet: “And all of a sudden you see her, she’s there! / The girl with the golden hair.” Then Agnetha entered the stage. She and Frida had both been decked out with identical costumes and identical golden wigs, to underline the fact that they were both playing one and the same character. Agnetha’s first song was “Thank You For The Music.” However, this version of the song was a bit more loosely structured and cabaret-like than the studio-interpretation recorded several months later. Also, in this original mini-musical version there were a few differences in the lyrics here and there.

After “Thank You For The Music,” the narrator returned, setting the scene for the next song by describing the girl’s ambitions and her doubts as to whether she should really leave her home town for a career in music: “Uncertainty is starting / She’s feeling a little bit down.” Then Frida entered the stage to sing “I Wonder (Departure).” After this big ballad the narrator would be back again. With the aid of interjections from Abba’s female trio of backing vocalists he would describe the claustrophobic experience of the girl getting more success than she bargained for: “She got what she wanted, and yet / She feels like a marionette!” Agnetha and Frida then performed “I’m A Marionette.”

This third number in the mini-musical segued into an uptempo, rhythmic instrumental section wherein the girls performed a dance routine of some length. Then, without so much as a short break, the fourth and final number would begin. During the intro, the narrator uttered his final words: “The journey from Heaven to Hell / Get on the carousel!” In a sort of “vocal duel” with the backing singers, Agnetha and Frida then performed the rousing uptempo song “Get on the Carousel.” In it, the girl desperately cries that she wants to leave the nightmare she’s finding herself in, to get off the carousel although the vocal chorus insists that she should get on it. The Girl With The Golden Hair was rounded off by short reprises of “I’m A Marionette” and “I Wonder (Departure),” before getting back to a bit more of “Get On The Carousel.” After approximately 25 minutes, the mini-musical then ended.

The Girl With The Golden Hair was certainly a daring experiment for ABBA, in more ways than one, and opinions about the success of the venture are divided. When there were subsequent suggestions that the mini-musical should be extended into a full-length work, Björn admitted that “the story wasn’t quite good enough for that.” And today Benny even questions the wisdom of subjecting a largely pre-teen audience to what was after all a fairly gloomy depiction of stardom, not to mention the fact that all four songs were brand new and therefore completely unfamiliar. “I suspect the whole thing was probably quite weird for the audiences: they just wanted to see ABBA,” he states in the Mamma Mia! book, adding that “it was not a good choice for a tour.”


Post a Comment



Browse by Decades

Popular Posts


09 10