Sunday, 17 July 2011

Fernando (1976)

"Fernando" was Swedish pop group ABBA's 1st non-album single, released in November 1975. Lead vocals were sung by Anni-Frid Lyngstad. The track appeared on the 1976 ABBA release Greatest Hits in some countries, although in Australia and New Zealand "Fernando" was included on the group's Arrival album. "Fernando" also features on the multi-million selling Abba Gold: Greatest compilation. This song was to become ABBA's biggest selling single of all time, selling 6,000,000 copies in 1976 alone. It is one of the fewer than thirty all-time singles to have sold 10 Million (or more) copies worldwide.
"Fernando" was not originally an ABBA song but was written for ABBA member Anni - Frid Lyngstad It appeared on her 1975 No1 Swedish solo album, Frida Ensam. The song was written by Bjorn Ulvaeus, Benny Andersson and Stig Anderson and carried the working title of "Tango". Preparations for recording began in August 1975. Originally named "Hernandez", the writers made last-minute changes to the title before recording. The suggestion of the name 'Fernando' was given by their limousine driver Peter Forbes in Shepperton, England. Tony Fernando, a wealthy exports director for celebrities such as Princess Anne and Tom Selleck, was a friend of Peter Forbes. Forbes suggested the name 'Fernando' might fit better than the original, the title 'Fernando' was loved by all and became an instant hit.
The original Swedish language version's lyrics were written by ABBA's manager Stig Anderson and differ substantially from the English language version. In the original, the narrator tries to console the heartbroken Fernando, who has lost his great love. "The sorrow can be hard to bear, but the fact that friends let us down is something we all have to cope with". The bittersweet chorus goes: "Long live love, our best friend, Fernando. Raise your glass and propose a toast to it, to love, Fernando. Play the melody and sing a song of happiness. Long live love, Fernando"

The English version, with completely different lyrics by Ulvaeus, presents a vision of nostalgia for two veterans reminiscing in old age about a lost battle that they participated in during their younger days fighting under Emiliano Zapata in a battle of the Mexican Revolution of 1910. This was confirmed by Bjorn Ulvaeus in an ABBA special interview screened on December 31, 2008 in Australia.

The B-side to "Fernando" was the song "Hey, Hey, Helen", a track from the group's eponymous 1975 album, although in some countries "Tropical Loveland" (also from the Abba album) was used instead. Some copies of the single use "Rock Me" as a B-side.

The title and rhythm of the song made it an obvious choice for inclusion in their Spanish album. It was composed by Buddy and Mary McCluskey and recorded on January 3, 1980, in the Polar Music studios. The song is part of the Gracias Por La Musica album and is listed as track No5, in the "ABBA Oro" album as track No1 and as a Bonus Track on the Arrival album. The song was released as a promotional single in Spain. The lyrics, while adapted for rhythm and rhyme, carry the same meaning as the English version. "There was something in the air that night, the stars were bright, Fernando. They were shining there for you and me, for liberty, Fernando." becomes "Algo había alrededor quizá de claridad Fernando, que brillaba por nosotros dos en protección, Fernando" (Something was around us perhaps of clarity Fernando, that shone for us two in protection, Fernando.)
After the huge success Frida had scored in Sweden with the Swedish version of "Fernando", the group decided to record it in English. This was a wise step, as "Fernando" became one of ABBA's best-selling singles ever, selling over 10 million copies worldwide and topping the charts in at least 13 countries: Australia, Austraia, Belgium, France, West Germany, the United Kingdom, Hungary, Ireland, Mexico, the Netherlands, New Zealand, South Africa, and Switzerland. In Australia "Fernando" stayed No1 for 14 weeks and spent 40 weeks in the charts, making "Fernando" one of the best selling singles of all time in Australia. In fact, it still holds the record for the single spending most weeks at No1 (along with The Beatles' "Hey Jude"). "Fernando" also reached the Top 3 in Canada, Finland, Norway, Spain, Sweden & Rhodesia. If Frida's No1 position in Sweden is included, (her version stayed No1 in the Swedish charts for 10 weeks) "Fernando" was actually a chart-topper in 14 countries, which probably makes this song ABBA's 2nd most sold single, after "Dancing Queen".
Abba,Fernando - Yellow Labels,UK,Deleted,7

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