Music, My life

Music to get you through chicken pox: Abba’s Fernando


Nobody ever accused me of highbrow or hardcore music tastes.

I came down with chicken pox the day before Christmas vacation ended, during my senior year in high school. Except for the fever and all the blisters and another week away from my erstwhile girlfriend, it wasn’t that unpleasant. In January of 1977, the Abba song Fernando was still on the radio a couple of times a week in Medellín, and I found it quite captivating. It even inspired to write a story as I lay in bed, featuring myself and my best friends as guerrillas. The story went the way of the lousy poetry I wrote in my adolescence, but I still enjoy the song.

In my extensive research for this post, I found that Fernando was originally written in Swedish, with really lame lyrics. As wikipedia reports: 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”.

I much prefer the English lyrics. Here they are, followed by a video of the Spanish version, which came out in 1980.

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
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
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
Now we’re old and grey, Fernando
And since many years I haven’t seen a rifle in your hand
Can you hear the drums, Fernando?
Do you still recall the fateful night we crossed the Rio Grande?
I can see it in your eyes
How proud you were to fight for freedom in this land
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
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
Yes, if I had to do the same again
I would, my friend, Fernando…

The Spanish lyrics are an excellent translation of the English. You can find them here.

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18 thoughts on “Music to get you through chicken pox: Abba’s Fernando

  1. interesting. i also had chicken pox in high school. over christmas. i was annoyed that i wouldn’t have to miss any school so i took a bonus day or two even though i was well enough to go. because, seriously, if you get chicken pox, you should get to miss some school.

    anyhow. Fernando is a fun song. sounds wonderful in spanish. thanks for sharing.

  2. I didn’t know all the words to that song (actually, I know the lyrics of very few songs). I know the refrains of many songs, so when one of those songs get stuck in my head, I end up singing just that part over and over! I wish TV advertisers would quit using music from the 70’s and 80’s!

    • I’ve been trying to think of what war in Mexico or Texas would inspire this kind of sentiment, but nothing comes to mind. Certainly not Pancho Villa, although I saw a fairly cool movie called Villa Rides about 45 years ago starring Yul Brynner in a wig.

  3. Yay for Abba! Great song to chicken-pox by! 🙂
    I had them at age 6 and remember them well. Itch. Scratch. 🙂
    At least your timing was good….day BEFORE vacation ended. 🙂
    HUGS!!! 🙂

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