The Day Before You Came

Last week I heard a DJ on Radio 2 saying when Agnetha came to sing this song for Abba she must have said to Bj√∂rn and Benny, “The lyric on this is insane! It doesn’t scan or rhyme.”

Silly, silly man.

It does both.

I think this lyric is fantastic, precisely because of the rhymes and scansion.

The rhyme scheme for the first verse is AABB*CC*DEFF* (where the * is for a part rhyme – which is more than common in popular music.) Moreover the D and E lines have an internal rhyme of lunch with bunch. Indeed, if you consider the line break is at “lunch” – which verses 2 and 3 suggest is more correct – the rhyme scheme becomes a near perfect AABB*CCDDEE.
The second and third verses both have an absolute AABBCCDDEE rhyming.

As to the scanning; it’s brilliant. In fact the line, “Undoubtedly I must have read the evening paper then,” is a wonderful iambic heptameter.

“There’s not, I think, a single episode of Dallas that I didn’t see,” is superb; the best line in any Abba song bar none. If you allow the “see-ee” at the end as an iamb it’s also a near perfect iambic nonameter.

The only thing I dislike about the lyric is it’s written in USian. Gotten is now archaic in British English – except for the phrase “ill-gotten gains” – and we don’t say “to go” but “to take away” or, in Scotland, “to carry out.” But then “to go” provides the rhyme.

Plus there’s an element of SF to it all, with the looking back to something that has changed, the implication of a life transformed.

I’ve always had a soft spot for the Blancmange version.

Blancmange: The Day Before You Came

There is also an eight minute version on You Tube.

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