Saturday, October 22, 2005

Marking Break ...

Marking Break



So does anybody know the war during which Fernando takes place? It's annoying me. Spanish Civil War? Napoleonic War? Wait -- Mexican-American war? And why are Agnethe and Anni-Frid singing in bad Spanish accents?

Why do I care? Because I told the students that the question that looked like a question about Joan of Arc was absolutely not about Joan of Arc. So that they should really look at their papers and make sure they answered the question I asked. Most of the answers tell me about Joan of Arc, and not what the trial documents tell us about religious beliefs or gender roles. Oh, except for the ones that tell me that the corrupt Roman Catholic Church was trying to keep people down and the Roman Catholics couldn't have been all that holy if they didn't believe in Joan's visions.

So yeah, it's time to worry about song lyrics ...

14 comments:

Ahistoricality said...

You're going to have to be more specific about the song if you're going to get answers. (Unless it's a well-known piece that I'm just ignorant of)
Link to lyrics, perhaps?

Rebecca said...

Yeah, I always assumed that one was about the Spanish Civil War...but I have no basis for that assumption...

Another Damned Medievalist said...

Oooh ... the other part of the question should tell you -- otherwise, it is the Band Which Must Not Be Named ...

Rebecca -- I have, too -- also with no good reason ...

Ancarett said...

Abba tunes sticks with one, don't they? Me, I would have thought that a snippet from "Waterloo" would have been more apropros:

The history book on the shelf
Is always repeating itself

As for Fernando -- I don't know if there's ever been a discussion of its setting. Since there's mention of drums and cannons, I'd think that was more likely to be nineteenth century than twentieth century. And the mention of the Rio Grande? Definitely sounds like the Mexican-American conflicts.

Another Damned Medievalist said...

There is also a Rio Grane in Galicia, though.

Ancarett said...

Yes, regarding the two Rio Grandes, but combining that with the drums and cannons, it still weighs away from the 20th century and seems to exclude the Spanish Civil War.

Sadly, I'm not up enough on my Peninsular campaigns to say whether or not the guerilla forces would have been active near the European Rio Grande. You've given me an excuse to try and figure that out, however!

Greg said...

I always thought it was very Napoleonic, simply because The Greatest Band Ever was from Sweden (yes, I called them The Greatest Band Ever). Somebody should write a scholarly paper about it.

It's simply too excellent that you're asking questions about ABBA lyrics.

Another Damned Medievalist said...

Apparently, I'm not the only one who wants to know. Turns out this was a Discussion on a colleague's study abroad trip to a very large continent. No agreement there, either. I do agree that Spanish Civil War seems very unlikely, though.

Rebecca said...

I think we're all assuming that ABBA would have historically accurate lyrics. :) There's no reason not to think that lyricists would write of drums, bugles, and cannons to set the mood while still referring to the Spanish Civil War. And there is something of the air of lost cause throughout the whole song...

Another Damned Medievalist said...

So you're saying we trust ABBA more than Mel? Hmmmm

Scrivener said...

When you asked about Fernando, I thought you were talking about Ferdinand!

Queen of West Procrastination said...

For some reason, I always thought Fernando (which I love way too much) was loosely based on a folk song or something, but I checked my record of ABBA's Greatest Hits, and they really wrote it. And so I think it's supposed to be based on some kind of Mexican-American conflict, but it's not necessarily anything specific.

Anonymous said...

After some thought, I think the most likely war would be one of the Mexican revolutions, where peasants fought against wealthy land-owners. There is a mention of the Rio Grande. Westerns were popular movies in holywood at the time Abba wrote the song. Perhaps they were thinking of the days of Zorro.

But the first time I heard of it, I though of the Spanish civil war too...all that stuff about fighting for freedom and losing. Sadly, this has happened a few times in the last few hundred years! Mexico has a sad history.

sujata said...

I have no connection to Cuba, but I thought of Che Guevara when I heard this song.