On Life and Love After 50 e Newsletter

JUNE 24, 2022

By Columnist Tom Blake

In the last two eNewsletters, I included an SOS message of sorts, reminding Champs to send in their experiences, stories, and questions, so that the articles will keep coming on a weekly basis. Many of you responded, which I appreciate.

Last Friday, while online, I received an email with this subject line: “SOS – The New Lyric Video!” At first take, I thought it was a Champ response to my send in your information appeal. Then, I noticed it was someone else who sent out an SOS message.

As some of you know, ABBA, the Swedish singing supergroup from the 1970s is making a comeback, of sorts. A new custom-built venue called ABBA Arena opened on May 26 in London, which features “Voyage,” ABBA’s first album in 40 years since the group split up. Is the foursome performing 40 years after they split up? Yes, of course, with lots of their old hits, plus some new material also. But there is a twist.

New Abba Arena (photo by Nick F June 2022)

The four original members, Agnetha, Bjorn, Benny and Anni-Frid have created a concert called Voyage using the same sensational music but digital versions of themselves. The four appear as avatars showing what they looked like in the 1970s, not what they look like now in their 70s.

The London ABBA Arena “Voyaged” show is backed by a live 10-piece orchestra. The show includes the magic of ABBA using motion-capture technology in a spectacular virtual reality show.

They did appear on opening night in person on stage before the concert. The concertgoers went crazy.

In a way, the ABBA members are like we Champs—they are in their 70s now and they’ve aged as we have. In YouTube footage I watched of them appearing on opening night on stage, Agnetha was using a cane. Most of us can relate to them: we loved their music then and they are older like us now.  

Bjorn said it so well in an interview about the story behind the Voyage album. “We’ve aged, but the spirit is still there.”

There are two links listed below to ABBA’S new material. The first is to the new spicy version of SOS. Plus, I’ve included another link to an interview with Benny and Bjorn explaining how the Voyage album came together. The group spent six weeks in a studio perfecting the album and videos.

Performances are sold out for most of the summer. The Voyage website is filled with information, including directions on how to reach the Abba Arena, via train and the London underground tube.

I mentioned ABBA recently in an eNewsletter and how in 2013 Greta and I were in Stockholm on a cruise, and we found the ABBA museum while riding on a Hop On, Hop Off bus. It was the opening day of the museum. They were sold out. We were told we couldn’t go in.

Tom and Greta with Abba look-a-likes in 2003 (photo by Tom Blake)

However, in her gracious, sweet, and convincing way, Greta was able to persuade the museum manager to allow us to enter on that opening day, a memory we will never forget. And while there, we were able to watch while standing four feet away, Natalie Morales of the Today show, interview in person Bjorn and Anna-Frid. That interview aired in the United States live on the Today Show that day.

Natalie Morales of Today show interviewing Bjorn and Anna-Frid in 2013 (photo by Tom Blake)

Will Greta and I go to London to see the Voyage concert? Probably not. But, if we get a call from Bjorn or Anna-Frid inviting us, well, we might rethink it. In the meantime, enjoy the links below.

Link to SOS

Link The story behind the album “The spirit is still there” Bjorn.


Tom Blake and Greta Cohn at ABBA the museum on opening day

On Life and Love After 50 eNewsletter – November 5, 2021

by Columnist Tom Blake


Most of our readers have fond memories of music from the 1970s. For many, including me, one singing group stole the show. I first heard of the group while having a glass of wine with Australian friends in September 1976 on a patio overlooking Sydney Harbor.

I remember my friends saying, “Have you heard the Swedish singing group ABBA?” They have exploded in popularity in Australia.” 

From that point on I started listening to ABBA and loved them. From 1973 to 1981, they recorded eight studio albums and became one of the most popular singing groups in history.

My favorite ABBA songs: Dancing Queen (1976), Take a Chance on Me (1977), and Chiquitita (1979) (see link below). In the spring of 1982, ABBA stunned fans worldwide when they split up. They had sold approximately 400 million records. 

Thirty-one years later (April 2013), my partner Greta and I were in Stockholm, Sweden on a cruise. We heard that ABBA THE MUSEUM was opening soon somewhere in a park in Stockholm. We had nothing scheduled on our last day in Stockholm, so we decided to try to find it. 

After an hour on a bus, we spotted a building in the park with a red carpet leading to the front door and people milling around, which we thought was possibly the museum.

We got off the bus at the next stop and walked back to the building. We were thrilled to learn it was ABBA THE MUSEUM. We went to the ticket window and were told that it was opening day and the museum was sold out for a week. We couldn’t go in. 

Greta explained that we were from Southern California traveling on a cruise ship that was departing at 4:30 that afternoon. They made an exception and sold us two tickets. There Greta and I were, on the museum’s opening day, enjoying the interactive exhibits (you could be on stage with them virtually, doing your own version of ABBA, being photographed with two ABBA lookalikes, and subsequently watching Natalie Morales from the Today Show interview Bjorn and Anni-Frid, two of the four members of ABBA.

We were standing four feet from them. Before they appeared, we could hear Natalie saying, “Yes Matt (Lauer), I hear you clearly,” when she was doing sound checks. Being at ABBA THE MUSEUM on opening day and seeing Bjorn and Anni-Frid up close were the highlights of our month-long cruise. 

Fast forward to October 27, 2021. I couldn’t believe my eyes when I read in a New York Times article written by Elisabeth Vincentelli that ABBA had secretly recorded a new album titled, “Voyage,” which is being released today, November 5, 2021. The album includes the first two tunes written by the group since 1982. 

A specially-built, 3,000-seat, ABBA Arena will open in London on May 27, 2022, where a live holographic show will take place. Meaning: It won’t be Benny, Bjorn, Agnetha, and Anni-Frid in person, but avatars with their faces from four decades ago superimposed on the digital figures. The 10 album songs will be performed digitally. A 10-piece orchestra will be live at the show. 

Songs featured on the album include, “Just A Notion,” “Don’t Shut Me Down,” and, “I Still Have Faith In You.” I’m excited to acquire the new album. Humm, should Greta and I go to London for the opening of the ABBA Arena? It could be another first.

Below is a photo of Bjorn and Anna-Frid arriving on the set of The Today Show at ABBA THE MUSEUM to be interviewed by Natalie Morales. Greta and I were standing about four feet from them when they were being interviewed.

Link to ABBA singing Chiquitita
(173,000,000+ views)
Bjourn enters
Pictures from opening day May 7, 2013