One comment you hear from time to time is, “can one person really make a difference?” In other words, why bother trying to improve anything as it is all too hard and one person can’t change anything anyway. I’m sure you’ve heard this or something like it.
It might seem all too hard, but, actually I believe ordinary people can create change. Otherwise I wouldn’t be here writing these posts.
Since my teenage years – almost five decades ago – I have loved the music of the Swedish group Abba. It is probably different for each person, but personally, I find it is much more than their music that I admire greatly. Of course, I have no connection to them, so how can I know anything about them? Well, I believe I do have some connection to them the same way we are all connected on this little blue ball.
When you understand the simple and humble story of the members of Abba, I believe their basic humanity shines through in the music they create. This is what appeals to me so endlessly. You can’t create or fake class and humility. Abba have this naturally. These qualities don’t end once the cameras are turned off.
Regardless of occupation, and especially in the entertainment industry I’m guessing, humility and modesty are not always encountered. With Abba, these things have been present from the beginning. And we still see it today, decades later. This is them.
Take Frida’s earrings. You can see she has worn the same gold drop earrings for years in many different videos. How many rich and famous ladies would wear the same earrings for so many years?
In their beautiful ballad “I Have a Dream” there is a section near the end where a children’s choir sings along with Abba. I don’t know anything about live shows but I assume it is a complicated and probably stressful undertaking. Especially when performed as part of a tour. Imagine having to set up stage, music, lights, sound, etc…perform perfectly, then move on to the next venue and do it all again. Over and over. Sometimes hundreds of times. Of course the performers have roadies to do most of the work, but Abba in particular are very demanding with quality and work to exacting standards.
So imagine, taking the decision amongst all of this work and effort when on long and demanding tours to add to your burden by teaching a new children’s choir to sing live at each performance, for just a short time during just one song – “I Have a Dream”. Abba could have easily just used backing singers, or pre-recorded children singing. Or got someone else to do it.
But they didn’t. At each city where they played, they personally took the time to teach a new group of children to sing along with them – just for one song. Who would do that?? In one video I saw where the children are being taught to sing by the Abba girls, the kids were singing pretty flat and off key…..quite bad actually. How much effort did Abba voluntarily expend to make this delightful live experience with the children occur? Who else would do this?
What a special memory for all of those children to keep for life and pass onto their own children – “Your mum sang on stage with Abba.”
And then the Abba juggernaut all went a bit silent. Well, it never did in my house. And probably not in millions of other homes around the world. Ordinary people kept the feeling alive. Possibly hoping against hope about some future Abba “experience.”
Myself, I was never really aiming for any new music – there was so much output of theirs to enjoy from earlier years, I was just content with that. Quality never goes out of fashion.
And then along came Mamma Mia! Abba was reborn to another audience. Mamma Mia didn’t involve the genuine performers, but for me it was well and good enough. A hugely wonderful and unexpected revival of their music. Mamma Mia gave Abba’s music a new and unique life all of its own. A life that has flourished for over two decades now and shows no signs of stopping.
There was initial hesitancy in opening Mamma Mia! in New York on the projected date of October 18, 2001, just weeks after the 9/11 attacks. But in fact, the locals wanted it more than ever after the trauma of that day the month before and Abba’s music was undoubtedly a soothing balm on the wounds of the New Yorkers. It ran until 2015.
By 2018 we had Mamma Mia 2. That was an outstanding experience. And surely that was going to be it. We were very lucky to have all these outlets for Abba’s music but there couldn’t possibly be any more. Maybe a third Mamma Mia movie but that is definitely the end isn’t it? Surely.
No. It is not!
Today, in 2021, we have the real thing back in our hearts again with the aptly titled song, “I Still Have Faith in You.” Brand new and spectacular music for a troubled world.
And with their new technology, Abba will be immortal almost. Immortal but still humble. In the 2021 video of the recording of this song, the ladies are naturally grey, no make up and wearing their reading glasses – just wonderful. Grandparents all and proud of it. No playing to the cameras. No pretence. Just pure and simple living. What role models they are for anyone.
So getting back to the question of the post – can an individual make a difference in the big world?
I just proved it!
I kept this dream of these gracious and natural quartet alive, and we wouldn’t be sitting here reading this post and discussing the question today if I didn’t. I didn’t do this alone of course – I had lots of help ;o)
It doesn’t matter what the topic is. I believe if enough people make just tiny efforts regularly, we can change the world. This blog is part of my humble effort to reduce inequality, prevent endless wars and suffering and reduce corruption.
We must call out the warmongering and corruption and hypocrisy and lies of “respectable” people and their nations. No one else is going to do it for you.
“I Still Have Faith in You.”