The Day Before You Came
by ABBA

Album: The Singles: The First Ten Years (1982)
Charted: 32
Play Video

Songfacts®:

  • 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".

Comments: 9

  • Tatiana from TexasI have always had a feeling this song has a darker meaning. As a woman, hearing this song, I think of the worst that can possibly happen to this girl the next day. Such as a stalker, a serial killer, the grim reaper even… The instrumentals also give a hint of an uncomfortable feeling. Definitely an amazing song and it’s one of my favorites, it leaves me guessing.
  • MarcellusIt's another breakup song. Here's what the liner notes from "The Visitors Deluxe Edition", released in 2012, have to say: "The lyrics, as performed by lead singer Agnetha, chronicle all the dull, ordinary things the protagonist ”guessed she must have done” the day before she had an emotionally charged encounter with a man. “The tune is narrative in itself,” says Björn, “and relentless. That almost monotonous quality made me think of this girl who was living in a sort of gloominess and is now back in that same sense of gloom. He has left her, and her life has returned to how it ‘must have been’ before she met him.”"
  • BobI don't think the song is about a lover coming into her life. There's something way darker brooding in this song and I think it's actually about death. The person everyone referring to as "the lover" in the song is the grim reaper.
  • Jms from CptI think this is a song about a woman who had an affair the day before her husband returns from a business trip. While her life is mundane, and likely lead to the affair, the lyrics are her guilt-driven composition of her alibi.
  • Kirk from SomersetIMO the best Abba song ever, closely followed by Our Last Summer.
  • AnonymousOne of my very, very favourites. I love this song.
  • Keith Robinson from Workington. , CumbriaBest Abba song Ever
  • 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.
see more comments

Editor's Picks

Michael Glabicki of Rusted Root

Michael Glabicki of Rusted RootSongwriter Interviews

Michael tells the story of "Send Me On My Way," and explains why some of the words in the song don't have a literal meaning.

Timothy B. Schmit

Timothy B. SchmitSongwriter Interviews

The longtime Eagle talks about soaring back to his solo career, and what he learned about songwriting in the group.

When Rock Belonged To Michelob

When Rock Belonged To MichelobSong Writing

Michelob commercials generated hits for Eric Clapton, Genesis and Steve Winwood in the '80s, even as some of these rockers were fighting alcoholism.

90s Metal

90s MetalFact or Fiction

Test your metal - Priest, Maiden, and Beavis and Butt-head show up in this one.

Danny Clinch: The Art of Rock Photography

Danny Clinch: The Art of Rock PhotographySong Writing

One of rock's top photographers talks about artistry in photography, raising funds for a documentary, and enjoying a County Fair with Tom Waits.

Steve Morse of Deep Purple

Steve Morse of Deep PurpleSongwriter Interviews

Deep Purple's guitarist since 1994, Steve talks about writing songs with the band and how he puts his own spin on "Smoke On The Water."