What About Livingstone?
by ABBA

Album: Waterloo (1974)
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Songfacts®:

  • This song pays tribute to Dr. David Livingstone, a missionary and explorer in Africa. Despite facing numerous obstacles and hazards, he persisted in his mission to spread the Gospel to the local people, driven by his conviction that it was a worthy cause. The track serves as a reminder of the sacrifices made by those who have dedicated their lives to a noble cause.
  • Tell me, wasn't it worth the while
    Traveling up the Nile
    Putting themselves on test
    Didn't that help the rest?
    Wasn't it worth it then?


    Livingstone made three journeys into central and southern Africa, but never traveled on the Nile, which lay far to the north. In January 1866, Livingstone returned to Africa for a third time, this time to Zanzibar, and from there he set out to seek the source of the Nile.

    By 1871, he had been lost to the world for over five years and had trekked 30,000 miles in his attempt to find the source of the Nile. His men had deserted him, and he was left with just four native boys. The journalist H.M. Stanley eventually found Livingstone at Ujiji, on the bank of Lake Tanganyika on November 10, 1871. He greeted him with the famous words, "Dr. Livingstone I presume."

    Livingstone died on May 1, 1873, aged 60 at Old Chitambo, Zambia, while still searching for the source of the Nile in the headwaters of the Zambezi.
  • Benny Andersson and Björn Ulvaeus wrote and produced "What About Livingstone?" ABBA recorded the track for Waterloo at Metronome Studios, Stockholm on October 17, 1973. They laid down the single "Honey, Honey" on the same day.
  • Though Benny Andersson and Björn Ulvaeus received English lessons during their Swedish schooling, they faced some difficulties with the language in their early material. Here, they use an "a" when "one" would be more correct.

    And if you laugh at them, then there's only a thing I can say

    Their command of English improved considerably over time. By their eighth album, The Visitors, Andersson and Ulvaeus had taken several steps away from the light pop music of their early records to writing songs with complex and mature lyrical themes.

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