By Yan Friis    

Agnetha Fältskog in an openhearted interview:

AF : Today’s upbringing of children isn’t very good. Look what’s going on in school, children aren’t even learning how to spell! But I won’t accept what’s wrong – I’m going to get as involved as I can.

She doesn’t look like a primadonna at all, Agnetha Fältskog, as she’s sitting there on the couch across from me. She is slender and pleasant and relaxed and her eyes glisten.

Agnetha is talking about her new LP, “Eyes Of A Woman”. She tells me about the movie “Raskenstam 2” with Gunnar Hellström that has been postponed time after time and perhaps won’t be made. But there are other movie plans for something next year but she doesn’t want to talk about it yet.

She talks about a TV-program that she has made, with six songs and interviews and talking in between.

What do you talk about?

AF : About myself and things that concern me.

But I thought that Agnetha absolutely didn’t want to about the private side of herself.

AF : Well, I do, but I don’t get too personal. I talk about subjects I think are important.

And what do you think is important?

She squirms a bit and smiles shyly.

AF : So many things. We live in a stressful world. Parents are worried that their children will hang out with the wrong crowd. And then there’s children’s fear of nuclear weapons. And it’s tough in school. Smoking… There are so many things.

AF : But I still have a positive view of the world today, Agnetha quickly adds. You get tired and depressed by being worried about everything. As an artist you have to do anything you can – to bring a message out to other people. These days people don’t think they’re adequate, that the grass is greener on the other side of the fence, that only material things matters. But that’s not the way it is. I think it’s important to realize that you also have weaknesses.

Then Agnetha begins talking about school issues.

AF : Look what’s going on in school! You can’t accept what’s wrong. I mean, for example…. I help my 12-year old daughter Linda with homework and she gets very sad when I correct words she has misspelled. Why do I correct her when her teacher didn’t? I’ve spoken with her teacher and I was told that it’s not that important if children misspell. Not that important?!

AF : I’m going to get involved! This fall my son Christian starts going to school and I’m going to stay at home and make sure that they don’t teach him things that are incorrect.

Now we’re talking about problems that Agnetha really cares about.

AF : And now they don’t have grades in junior level and middle school! Children want to know where they stand. Otherwise they lose their footing and their self-confidence. Children should be encouraged in areas they do well in. That’s the way it was when I went to school. I know it was good for me and it has helped me a lot.

Not all children are so lucky to have parents who really care about how things are in school…

AF : People are so occupied with their own lives, by having a career. Especially since women’s liberation began. Career, it’s the most important. You don’t have time to get involved in school issues. Everybody constantly experience the same stress. You have to live up to a lot in order to be accepted. Then relations between people get cool, as cool as our Nordic climate. You isolate yourself. In the summer it’s different during those few warm months. But mostly the weather’s cold, there’s snow and winter and that affects people.

Maybe they don’t like you very much at school.

AF : I haven’t gotten involved that much yet. But I feel I want to. Because how will things go if they don’t think it’s not that important if children misspell? Then what is the purpose with school? And keep in mind the problems it creates for the children. Later on in life they have to spell correctly and then they have to learn all over again.

AF : Today’s upbringing of children isn’t very good. Parents don’t have the time. It’s terrible because if it’s something children need, it’s their parents’ time. And the gap gets wider if the parents don’t get involved. Mathematics today is completely different compared to when I went to school. So is geography. In order to be able to help your children you have to get involved in what they’re going to learn. I have. The connection between parents and children is incredibly important. By the way, the same thing is important between all people, you have to try to understand each other.

Does it happen that you write down what you think about?

AF : No, I don’t. For example, I don’t write lyrics. But I hope that some of my thoughts show up in the music. I have to feel for the lyrics that I sing. Mostly they’re about love – that simple feeling reaches people. People have so many emotions but they keep them inside, they’re shy. But they like to listen – songs about love engage people a lot.

AF : People should dare to show more emotions and warmth. Just think about the difference of going in an elevator in Sweden and New York for example. In New York people aren’t afraid to talk to each other but in a Swedish elevator it’s dead silent. There you stand and glance at each other and feel insecure and inferior.

What about yourself, do you talk in an elevator?

AF : No, Agnetha says and laughs heartily, I’m exactly the same! You have no idea how nervous I am if there’s a press conference. I become very shy when I attend an event where I’m supposed to be in the center of attention. It’s the same at parties, if I walk into a room and everybody turns around and looks at me… I feel so lost.

AF : It’s something completely different to spend time in a small crowd. I love to sit and talk together with a few good friends. And even if I’m shy in larger crowds, I can be quite tough in other situations!