Bjorn Ulvaeus of ABBA wrote this song, which deals in part with his divorce from his bandmate Agnetha Fältskog. Speaking about the influence of the split on the song, Ulvaeus said: "Even if 90% of the lyrics were fiction there are still feelings in songs like 'Winner Takes It All' and 'Day Before You Came' they have something from that time in them."
This song was recorded and released by Swedish pop group ABBA as the first new song from their double compilation album, The Singles: The First Ten Years. It was their penultimate single release, and it was followed by the other new song on the album- Under Attack. It was only a minor hit, which Ulvaeus said was because it was "too different and ahead of its time for the ABBA fans."
The song was recorded and mixed on August 20, 1982, with the working title of "The Suffering Bird" featuring lead vocals by Agnetha Fältskog. It was the last song that ABBA ever recorded together. According to Michael Tretow, ABBA's long-time sound engineer, Fältskog sang her lead without the lights on. He added that the mood in the studio was sad and everybody knew that it was the end.
The song details the story of a woman's mundane life right before she met her lover. What happened after the guy "came" remains a pop mystery in a similar vein to the identity of the subject of Carly Simon's "You're So Vain." When The London Times March 26, 2010 asked Ulvaeus about it, he smiled enigmatically and replied. "You've spotted it, haven't you? The music is hinting at it. You can tell in that song that we were straining towards musical theatre. We got Agnetha to act the part of the person in that song. In retrospect, it might have been too much of a change for a lot of ABBA fans. The energy had gone."
The lyric, "I must have read a while, the latest one by Marilyn French or something in that style," is a reference to American feminist author Marilyn French (1929-2009), whose 1977 novel The Women's Room is cited as one of the most influential novels of the modern feminist movement.
Two years after the song's original release, a cover by British synthpop duo Blancmange charted at #22 in the UK singles chart. Instead of referencing Marilyn French, Blancmange singer Neil Arthur sang "I must have read a while, the latest one by Barbara Cartland or something in that style".
Jim from London, United KingdomYeah a really cool song, but I've always thought that this song is pretty uplifting, like his/her life was pretty mundane and predictable until the other person entered their life... even though it is sung by both Abba and Blancmange in a kind of sad, melancholy way.
Guy from Woodinville, WaLove it! Another great song from Abba, in a more ethereal style than usual. I had no idea it was the last one they recorded together. That just adds to the atmospheric feel of the song.