Abba – Fernando

Lyrics:

[Intro]

[Verse 1]
Can you hear the drums, Fernando?
I remember, long ago, another starry night like this
In the firelight, Fernando
You were humming to yourself and softly strumming your guitar

I could hear the distant drums, and sounds of bugle calls were coming from afar…

[Verse 2]
They were closer now, Fernando
Every hour, every minute seemed to last eternally
I was so afraid, Fernando
We were young and full of life and none of us prepared to die

And I’m not ashamed to say the roar of guns and cannons almost made me cry…

[Chorus 1]
There was something in the air that night
The stars were bright, Fernando
They were shining there for you and me
For liberty, Fernando

Though we never thought that we could lose
There’s no regret

If I had to do the same again
I would, my friend, Fernando
If I had to do the same again
I would, my friend, Fernando…

[Verse 3]
Now we’re old and grey, Fernando
Since many years I haven’t seen a rifle in your hand
Can you hear the drums, Fernando?
Do you still recall the frightful night we crossed the Rio Grande?

I can see it in your eyes, how proud you were to fight for freedom in this land…

[Chorus 2]
There was something in the air that night
The stars were bright, Fernando
They were shining there for you and me
For liberty, Fernando

Though I never thought that we could lose
There’s no regret

If I had to do the same again
I would, my friend, Fernando…

[Chorus 3]
There was something in the air that night
The stars were bright, Fernando
They were shining there for you and me
For liberty, Fernando

Though I never thought that we could lose
There’s no regret

If I had to do the same again
I would, my friend, Fernando
Yes, if I had to do the same again
I would, my friend, Fernando…

 

Fernando” is a song by the Swedish pop group ABBA. It was the group’s first non-album single and was released in March 1976 through Polar Music. The track was featured on the 1976 compilation album Greatest Hits in most countries, but was included on the group’s fourth studio album Arrival in Australia and New Zealand. “Fernando” is also featured on the multi-million selling Gold: Greatest Hits compilation. The song was to become one of ABBA’s best-selling singles of all time, with six million copies sold in 1976 alone.[1] It is one of fewer than forty all-time singles to have sold 10 million (or more) physical copies worldwide, making it one of the best selling singles of all time.

File:Fernando Hey Hey Helen.jpg

History

“Fernando” was not originally released as an ABBA song but by band member Anni-Frid Lyngstad. It was featured on her No. 1 Swedish solo album Frida ensam (1975). The song was composed by Benny Andersson and Björn Ulvaeus and carried the working title of “Tango”. Preparations for recording began in August 1975. The writers made last-minute changes to the title before recording.[2] The suggestion of the name “Fernando” was given by their limousine driver Peter Forbes in Shepperton, England.[citation needed]

Swedish-language version

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 chorus’ lyrics are: “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”.

File:Anni-Frid Lyngstad - Fernando.jpg

English-language version

The English version, with completely different lyrics by Björn Ulvaeus, presents a vision of nostalgia for two veterans reminiscing in old age about a long ago battle in which they participated. “I wrote all the songs as little stories. “Fernando” was about two old freedom-fighters from the war between Texas and Mexico. I was lying outside one summer night, looking at the stars and it suddenly came to me”.[3] “I knew that the title ‘Fernando’ had to be there, and after pondering a while, I had this vivid image in my mind of two old and scarred revolutionaries in Mexico sitting outside at night talking about old memories”.[3] The Mexican Revolution of 1910 began on 20 November of that year when a small force of revolutionaries led by Francisco Madero crossed the Rio Grande, from Texas to Mexico.[4]

The B-side to “Fernando” was the song “Hey, Hey, Helen”, a track from the group’s self-titled third studio album (1975), although in some countries “Tropical Loveland” (also from the album ABBA) was used instead. Some copies of the single use “Rock Me” or “Dance (While the Music Still Goes On)” as a B-side.

Spanish-language version

The title and rhythm of the song made it an obvious choice for inclusion on ABBA’s Spanish album, Gracias Por La Música. The lyrics were translated into Spanish by Mary McCluskey and recorded at Polar Music Studio on 3 January 1980. The song was released as a promotional single in Spain. The lyrics, while adapted for rhythm and rhyme, carry the same sentiment and roughly 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 “Something was around us perhaps of clarity Fernando, that shone for us two in protection, Fernando” (“Algo había alrededor quizá de claridad Fernando, que brillaba por nosotros dos en protección, Fernando”.)

Reception

“Fernando” would become one of ABBA’s best-selling singles upon its release in March 1976, topping the charts in at least 13 countries, and selling over 10 million copies worldwide.[5] It was the longest-running No. 1 in Australian history (spending 14 weeks at the top and 40 weeks on the chart), and remained so for over 40 years, until it was surpassed by Ed Sheeran‘s “Shape of You“, which achieved 15 weeks at No. 1 in May 2017.[6][7] “Fernando” also reached the top of the charts in Austria, Belgium, France, Germany, the United Kingdom, Hungary, Ireland, Mexico, the Netherlands, New Zealand, South Africa and Switzerland. It was also a Top 5 hit in ABBA’s native Sweden (although Lyngstad’s version was No. 1 on Sweden’s radio chart for nine weeks), Finland, Norway, Spain, Canada and Rhodesia.

The track became ABBA’s fourth Top 20 hit on the U.S. Billboard Hot 100, peaking at No. 13. [8] It also reached No. 1 on the Billboard Adult Contemporary chart, the first of two chart-toppers for ABBA on this chart (the second being “The Winner Takes It All“). The song remains an airplay staple on American radio stations specializing in the MOR, adult standards and easy listening formats.

“Fernando” was the fourth biggest single of 1976 in the UK.[9] It spent 10 weeks in the UK Top 10 (more than any other ABBA single),[10] and was also the second of three consecutive UK No. 1 singles for ABBA, after “Mamma Mia” and before “Dancing Queen“.[11]

The song was also chosen as the “Best Studio Recording of 1975”, ABBA’s first international prize.

Charts and certifications

Chart performance

Weekly singles chart (1976)Peak
position
Australian Singles Chart[12]1
Austrian Singles Chart1
Belgian Singles Chart1
Canadian RPM Top Singles [13]4
Canadian RPM Adult Contemporary [14]1
Netherlands (Dutch Top 40)[15]1
Netherlands (Single Top 100)[16]1
Finnish Singles Chart2
French Singles Chart1
German Singles Chart1
Hungarian Singles Chart1
Irish Singles Chart1
Italian Singles Chart6
New Zealand Singles Chart1
Mexican Singles Chart1
Norwegian Singles Chart2
Rhodesian Singles Chart2
South African Singles Chart1
Spanish Singles Chart3
Swedish Singles Chart2
Swiss Singles Chart1
UK Singles Chart[17]1
U.S. Billboard Adult Contemporary1
U.S. Billboard Hot 10013
US Cashbox Top 100 Singles[18]
10
Year-end chart (1976)Rank
Australia [19]1
Canada RPM Top Singles [20]61
New Zealand [21]1
Switzerland [22]2
U.S. (Joel Whitburn‘s Pop Annual) [23]110
U.S. Billboard Easy Listening [24]20

Sales and certifications

RegionCertificationCertified units/Sales
Australia720,000[25]
Canada (Music Canada)[26]Gold75,000^
France (SNEP)[27]Gold602,000[28]
Germany (BVMI)[29]Gold250,000^
United Kingdom (BPI)[30]Gold500,000
*sales figures based on certification alone
^shipments figures based on certification alone
Preceded by
Mississippi” by Pussycat
Swiss Singles Chart number-one single
2 April 1976 – 18 June 1976
Succeeded by
Let Your Love Flow” by The Bellamy Brothers
Preceded by
“The Alternative Way” by Anita Meyer
Dutch Top 40 number-one single
3 April 1976 – 17 April 1976
Succeeded by
Save Your Kisses for Me” by Brotherhood of Man
Preceded by
Bohemian Rhapsody” by Queen
Australian Kent Music Report number-one single
5 April 1976 – 5 July 1976
Succeeded by
“Howzat” by Sherbet
Preceded by
“Ich bin wie du” by Marianne Rosenberg
Belgian Flemish VRT Top 30 number-one single (first run)
10 April 1976 – 17 April 1976
Succeeded by
“Save Your Kisses for Me” by Brotherhood of Man
Preceded by
“Rocky” by Frank Farian
German Singles Chart number-one single (first run)
30 April 1976
Succeeded by
“Rocky” by Frank Farian
Preceded by
“Save Your Kisses for Me” by Brotherhood of Man
Irish Singles Chart number-one single
1 May 1976 – 29 May 1976
Succeeded by
“Arms of Mary” by Sutherland Brothers
UK Singles Chart number-one single
8 May 1976 – 4 June 1976
Succeeded by
No Charge” by J.J. Barrie
Preceded by
“Rocky” by Frank Farian
German Singles Chart number-one single (second run)
14 May 1976 – 18 June 1976
Succeeded by
“Let Your Love Flow” by The Bellamy Brothers
Preceded by
“Save Your Kisses for Me” by Brotherhood of Man
Belgian Flemish VRT Top 30 number-one single (second run)
15 May 1976
Succeeded by
“Save Your Kisses for Me” by Brotherhood of Man
Preceded by
My Little World” by Waterloo & Robinson
Austrian Singles Chart number-one single
14 June 1976 – 2 August 1976
Succeeded by
“Let Your Love Flow” by The Bellamy Brothers
Preceded by
Like a Sad Song” by John Denver
Billboard Easy Listening Singles number-one single
16 October 1976 (2 weeks)
Succeeded by
Muskrat Love” by Captain & Tennille

Cover versions

  • In the 1980s, the Dominican Merengue Pianist and Vocalist Ramón Orlando rewrote lyrics to “Fernando” as “Si tú crees que no te amo” (if you think I don’t love you).
  • The Colombian duo, Angela & Consuelo, recorded a Spanish language version of Fernando in the 1970s.
  • In 1976, Swedish singer Lena Andersson recorded a German language version of this song. Andersson was also signed to the Polar label and thus could use the original Anni-Frid Lyngstad/ABBA backing track produced by Björn Ulvaeus and Benny Andersson. The German version is of particular interest to fans of the band since it contains a two bar long instrumental passage after the first chorus that was edited out from both the Swedish and the English-language versions.
  • In 1976, Finnish saxophonist Seppo Rannikko recorded an instrumental version of “Fernando” in his album “Sahara” (only released as an LP), which also included an instrumental version of ABBA’s “Dancing Queen“.
  • In 1976, Paraguayan/Brazilian camp singer Perla covered “Fernando” on her album “Palabras de amor”. Perla also covered ABBA’s “Chiquitita” on her 1979 album.
  • In 1976, French Canadian singer René Simard recorded a French language version of this song.
  • In 1976, Czech singer Věra Špinarová recorded a Czech language version of this song.
  • A Swedish country band called Nashville Train (which included some of ABBA’s own backing band members) also covered the song in 1977 on their album ABBA Our Way, released on the Polar Music label in Sweden.
  • The Swedish singer Lotta Engberg has recorded a cover version of the Swedish language version of the song. The year was 1997, as her dansband recorded the song on the Tolv i topp album.
  • The Swedish dansband Vikingarna has also recorded a cover version of the Swedish language version of the song.
  • American actress/singer Audrey Landers (best known for her role on the TV series Dallas) recorded a cover of the song.
  • U.S. musician/songwriter Pamela McNeill included a rendition of the song on her Tribute To ABBA album. Her husband, Dugan McNeill, helped produce the album.
  • British dance tribute group Abbacadabra released a cover and several remixes of the song through Almighty Records in the late 1990s.
  • A dance/pop cover of the song by Belgian group Sha-Na was released as a single in 1992.
  • German eurodance group E-Rotic covered the song on their album Thank You for the Music.
  • An electronica version by Bug Funny Foundation is included on the compilation The Electronic Tribute To ABBA.
  • The San Francisco Gay Men’s Chorus recorded a cover of the song for their 1997 album ExtrABBAganza!.
  • Local Seattle gay men’s chorus Captain Smartypants recorded a cover of the song for their album Undercover.
  • New York jazz band Sex Mob covered the song for their 2000 album Solid Sender.
  • Danish rock/pop duo Olsen Brothers recorded a cover for their 2003 album More Songs.
  • The 2004 album ABBAMania 2 featured a cover by British TV actress Jane Danson.
  • The German ABBA Mania compilation includes a cover of the song by Barbara Schöneberger and German comedian Dirk Bach.
  • A cover of the song by Velvet Set can be found on the 2006 chill out music compilation ABBA Chill Out.
  • Taiwanese singer Tracy Huang recorded an English cover of the song.
  • A cover of the song by Finnish a cappella choral ensemble Rajaton can be found on their 2006 ABBA tribute album Rajaton Sings ABBA With Lahti Symphony Orchestra.
  • The song was covered in a jazz/lounge music style by American group BNB on their 2008 album Bossa Mia: Songs of ABBA.[31]
  • Australian rock band Audioscam covered the song on their 2008 album Abbattack. Samples from the album can be heard on their official MySpace page.[32]
  • Deborah Sasson (de) recorded “Fernando” for her 2012 album Deborah Sasson.
  • Wreckless Eric and Amy Rigby included a cover on their 2010 album, Two-Way Family Favourites, with Amy Rigby singing vocals.
  • The von Trapps recorded a Swedish language version with Pink Martini, which appears on their 2014 album Dream a Little Dream.
  • For Mamma Mia! Here We Go Again, a 2018 screen musical based on the songs of ABBA and sequel to 2008’s Mamma Mia!, “Fernando” was covered by Cher.

Live cover performances

  • Only a few lines of the song are sung briefly by the character of Donna in the Mamma Mia! musical. The song was originally to be featured in the musical as a flamboyant dance number, with Donna entertaining the clientele at the taverna, but was cut as it didn’t move the story along.[33] In the movie adaptation, Meryl Streep, who plays Donna, is heard briefly humming a few notes of the song.
  • The song has been performed live in English as a duet by Swedish singers Helen Sjöholm and Karin Glenmark.
  • The song was sung on Australian Idol season 6 by Wes Carr during ABBA week. A recorded version of Carr’s version was included on the album Australian Idol Top 10:The Most Memorable songs from the series.
  • Charo performed the song at her 1988 concert in Reno at Bally’s.

Appearances in other media

 

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(Benny Andersson and Björn Ulvaeus)
© 1982 Polar Music International AB
Published by: Universal/Union Songs AB
Video produced by: Kjell Sundvall and Kjell-Åke Andersson

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