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Jim Colyer

Should I Laugh Or Cry

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This is a wife rebelling against her husband, perhaps Frida rebelling against Benny. He drones on while she grows cold. This is one of those songs from the post-Visitors era. Maybe ABBA meant to do another album, maybe not. I am not even sure they knew. But those final songs had no top 40 candidates. They were cynical and pessimistic in a way that was foreign to early ABBA. "SHOULD I LAUGH OR CRY" reeks with sarcasm. a peculiar hardness. It is a legitimate response to a woman's partner becoming tyrannical. He vents. She feels only contempt. She may have liked his small philosophy in "Our Last Summer" but not now. The song's title reminds me of the two masks representing the dramatic arts. One is laughing, one is crying. Frida is laughing but not with Benny. She is laughing at him. She makes much of his stature. Benny is standing on his toes as if to appear taller. He is high and mighty. Frida compares him to an inflated balloon, full of hot air, on its way to the moon. We find the moon in other ABBA songs: People Need Love, What About Livingstone, Tropical Loveland, SummerNight City, The Piper and Soldiers. This is a different moon. The couple are preparing for bed, and Benny is in his pajamas. Frida probably bought them as a birthday present. That the trousers are too short is another indication that Benny is trying to tower over her. His pajamas are his warm and safe cacoon. Love and marriage have become a lie. Frida is tired and indifferent. Her pain is gone. Benny is far away. Of course, both couples in ABBA divorced, and their divorces reflected the general breakdown of marriage in all industrial societies. The 10 years of ABBA invites comparison with that of The Beatles. Both groups began with exuberant love songs while a gradual cooling produced more solemn lyrics.



SHOULD I LAUGH OR CRY
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Q_uiKm7wsmI

He stands towering over me beside my bed
Losing his head
Tells me I must take him seriously
Droning on the usual way
He's such a clever guy
And I wonder should I laugh or cry

He's dressed in the striped pajamas that I bought
Trousers too short
Gives me of his small philosophy
Carries on the way he does
And me I get so tired
And I wonder should I laugh or cry

High and mighty his banner flies
A fool's pride in his eyes
Standing there on his toes to grow in size
All I see is a big balloon
Halfway up to the moon
He's wrapped up in the warm and safe cocoon
Of an eternal lie
So should I laugh or cry

Strange how dangerously indifferent I have grown
Cold as a stone
No more pain where there was pain before
Far away he rambles on, I feel my throat go dry
And I wonder should I laugh or cry

High and mighty his banner flies
A fool's pride in his eyes
Standin' there on his toes to grow in size
All I see is a big balloon
Halfway up to the moon
He's wrapped up in a warm and safe cocoon
Of an eternal lie
So should I laugh or cry

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