Tuesday, April 06, 2021
Author: Julia Zoller
Speaker: Christian Bowman
Illustration: Tobias Kubald
Editor: Frank Halbach
On 6 April 1974 a number of dark glass frames were assembled in the semicircle of the concert hall in Brighton. You sit on the nose of serious gentlemen with chops and carefully dress women with hairdos.
The live orchestra plays a lively melody, polite applause. Presenter Katie Boyle rotates in salmon pink on a camera pan, a beige-pink illuminated stage. “Good evening ladies and gentleman.” The Eurovision song contest has started from Brigathon, Great Britain.
Like every year?
The next 32 minutes of the 19th ESC are “the same process as every year.” outside. Slightly Schlezer, slightly chirped, occasionally heartbreaking and guitar-ridden Spanish. Polite applause. No one is dancing But then comes the 35th minute of ESC. A new conductor appears, wearing a messy uniform jacket, and a Bacorn Hat sits on his head. Looks like … that’s where it starts. Four times, high tempo, driving beat. Enter Sweden The guitarist wore silver platform shoes and a blue velvet suit on the skin. Two young women jogged on the edge of the stage, one white-blonde, the other with red-brown curly hair. Both smile and shine. Long microphones are making cable waves.
The director fades to the band’s name: “Abba”.
When the women are set with piercing voices, attentive viewers hear the very first words unusual for a pop song: “At Waterloo, Napoleon surrendered…. Yes.”
Whereby: Surrender can also mean military surrender. Benny Andersen, one of Abba’s BS, who wrote the lyrics for “Waterloo”, is not a native speaker. In connection with Waterloo it is often said: Napoleon was defeated. Napoleon was defeated in June 1815. Surrender sings better.
But: a “letter of surrender”, a surrender letter to the Prince Regent of the United Kingdom (and later King George IV), actually exists. The letter is well kept in the queen’s archives. Napoleon wrote in mid-July 1815, four weeks after his troops were so “shamefully” defeated by Allied troops.
In strong words, Abba should have started his song differently. “At Waterloo” is geographically impenetrable. The famous battle did not take place “on”, but what Waterloo now has in Belgium. So “near Waterloo”. The battlefield falls under the municipality of Beren L’Leid. So if it is, please: “Et bener l’Alleud Napoleon did or what” and so on.
At the ESC on April 6, 1974, or in the peaks from Malta to Yugoslavia, no one listened so closely. Agnetha, Björn, Benny and Anni-Frid von Abba, who are in a much better mood than most other bands, experience their personal “Ostralitz” at Brigathon to be with Napoleon. They desirably win the 19th Eurovision Song Contest with “Waterloo”, which is really about love. He can also be a battlefield.