Bob Schwartz

ABBA Saves the Day

So when you’re near me, darling, can’t you hear me, S.O.S.
The love you gave me, nothing else can save me, S.O.S.

Yeah, yeah, some things are messed up. But then ABBA’s Take a Chance came on the playlist. Things are still not all right, but for four minutes, it seemed like it.

Propulsive, like listening to a sleek Swedish train gliding down the tracks. Just try not moving your hips, no matter how spastic you think you look. Like Nick Lowe said in an album title, this is “Pure Pop for Now People.”

ABBA is my prescription for the day.


I received a message from a friend who is a politician. A person of quality and bright prospects in an era of uncertain and sometimes shady and compromised politics. He wrote, “These are certainly interesting and potentially transformative times.”

That phrase “transformative times” stuck with me. As someone who writes so frequently about change, I know that I can also get mired in the seemingly static day-to-day messiness of our current public life (not to mention our private lives too). Opportunities for change and transformation abound, if we can see, hear and believe in them. Actually, change and transformation are the reality, like it or not.

By coincidence, this morning I came across a poem by Rilke about this very matter:

Earth, isn’t this what you want? To arise in us, invisible?
Is it not your dream, to enter us so wholly
there’s nothing left outside us to see?
What, if not transformation,
is your deepest purpose?
(The Ninth Duino Elegy)

So let us see, along with my friend, what we make of these transformative times.