You have to be there…

I know a lot of people love ABBA…and they love their hits, many of which are fun songs and karaoke favourites. I wouldn’t say that I’m a die-hard fan of the band even though I do have some of their songs in my repertoire and I did go and watch the movie that was released sometime in the late 70’s or early 80’s. Other than that, I really enjoyed the musical and the film adaptation that was subsequently released and this song from the soundtrack…

…certainly did manage to move me a lot and bring a tear or two to my eyes.

Other than the aforementioned song, I do not think there are any ABBA songs that I really really like though I would say Thank you for the music and The winner takes it all aren’t too bad…and what I did not know at the time was that one of the members of the band, Benny Andersson, actually had a hand in Andrew Lloyd Webber’s not-so-successful musical, Chess, and co-wrote one of my all-time favourites, I know him so well…and another hit from the same musical – One night in Bangkok.

What happened was not too long ago, I was listening to Susan Boyle (and yes, I can watch her audition on Britain’s Got Talent and it will still move me as much today was when I first watched it way back then) singing You have to be there

…and I fell in love with it instantly. But while I was searching for the video clip on youtube, I discovered that the song was actually taken from a Swedish musical, Kristina Fran Duvemåla


…with songs by Benny and lyrics by co-ABBA, Bjorn Ulvaeu…

Benny, Bjorn & Co

Here, you can listen to the complete song by Helen Sjöholm…

…at the English-language premiere of the musical, in a concert version under the name “Kristina: A Concert Event” at Carnegie Hall. One of the reviews read, “Andersson’s work is so big, so thoroughly conceived, and so varied in style, tempo, and color that it often feels more like a symphony than a musical…” and yes, I would agree wholeheartedly that it is indeed that good.

This song was sung when the main character, Kristina, had a miscarriage and was told by the doctor that she must never get pregnant again, or she would certainly die and for the first time in her life, Kristina was doubting. She had always tried to do the right thing and follow the way of the Lord, accepting her destiny, and still He kept turning her world upside down. Now the terrifying little word “if” had started spinning in her head. What if there was no God? What would she do then? All her prayers would have been in vain. Everything she had ever believed in would be gone.

What is it Lord that you want
That I am not seeing?
What in my ignorant prayers
Am I failing to say?
Never before have I questioned the truth of your being
Never once have I dared
Never until today

All of a tremble
I stand on the edge of confusion
Who is to save me
If into the darkness I fall?
Now that I need more than ever my God to be near me
Do you hear when I call?
Are you there after all?

You have to be there, you have to
My life I have placed in thy keep
And without you I am drifting on a dark and stormy sea
You have to be there, you have to
Without you I’d drown in the deep
Too far, too far from land
The waters drag me down
I reach for your hand

This intense emotion somehow seems lacking in Susan Boyle’s rendition of the song but still, that does not make me like the song any less…and I would say it is a lot nicer than any of ABBA’s own hit songs starting from the time when they took the world by storm after winning the Eurovision Song Contest 1974 with “Waterloo”.

What do you all think?