“Keep An Eye On Dan” by ABBA

Breakup songs are a dime a dozen. But sometimes a songwriter may attempt to breathe new life into a well-worn trope and, on rare occasions, even succeed at doing so. And such is the case with ABBA’s “Keep an Eye on Dan”. 

The titular Dan would be the son of the vocalist and addressee. And the reason the former is telling the latter to “keep an eye on” him is because, first of all, the two of them are divorced. And secondly, they share custody of Dan. So basically, she is reminding him to pay proper attention to the child when she’s not around.

Now it is not specified what type of visitation rights each party has. But what is inferred is that the vocalist must endure extended periods of time where Dan is actually with the addressee, her ex. 

And the reason she seems perturbed by this reality isn’t due to being without the child per se. After all this is an ABBA song, so we shouldn’t expect any type of overt animosity or anything like that. But rather, what is bothering the narrator is the way Dan so happily embraces the idea of being with his dad, without her being around. That is to say that just the thought that he can be so happy for a considerable timeframe without her has the vocalist upset. 

But of course, she’s not going to let the child see how his enthusiasm to be with the other parent disturbs her.

A Song against Divorce?

There is also a more romantic element thrown in to boot, i.e. the vocalist admiring the addressee’s looks and reminiscing on when their love was fresh and new. So perhaps if we wanted to get a bit creative ourselves, we would say that this is an anti-divorce song. 

Or put differently, at least in this short story, the vocalist does not seem to be satisfied with being divorced at all. And when considering the aftereffects of ending a marriage, we would say that most people probably don’t really take into account how they would personally feel when a child is freely chillin’ with the other spouse.

But again, Björn himself has stated that the main goal with this piece was to add a new type of tale to the field. And of course he has gone through a divorce himself, with children being involved, from fellow ABBA member Agnetha Fältskog. 

So part of this song is not only based on his personal experience but what he knows other divorced parents must go through also.

ABBA, "Keep An Eye On Dan" Lyrics
ABBA's Björn Ulvaeus describes "Keep An Eye On Dan"

Facts about “Keep An Eye On Dan”

Although Björn Ulvaeus comes off as the main writer of this piece, he is officially credited with doing so alongside his long-standing musical partner, Benny Andersson. And the song is sung by his ex-wife, Agnetha Fältskog, in conjunction with the last member of the ABBA quartet, Andersson’s own former spouse, Frida Lyngstad.

“Keep an Eye on Dan” interpolates a song ABBA dropped back in 1975 entitled SOS. Readers who are familiar with this act know that the band’s heyday was actually during the 1970s. 

In fact they were so popular back then that now, even as septuagenarians and after a four decade hiatus, they dropped a new studio album, Voyage, to much fanfare. 

And said album, from which “Keep an Eye on Dan” is derived, was released by Polar Music and Universal Music on 5 November 2021.

Keep An Eye On Dan

2 Responses

  1. SlyMoxa says:

    Personally I see in my mind the same woman from SOS singing this song. Similar keys are emphasized throughout both songs. When she pulls the card over and ‘bangs the wheel’ she might as well be singing ‘Whatever happened to our love, I wish I understood’. She suggests that maybe she still loves and longs for the ex in both the first and last verse. The brilliancy of the tension inherent to the song is that even when she gets lost in the fantasy of ‘maybe could have beens’, she reminds herself how frustrating her ex can be despite being a loving man evidenced by her asking him not to upset the child. In that moment she returns to knowing exactly why they are no longer together. The SOS riff at the end signals to me that she’s been in a prolonged crisis, which of course is the sentiment in the opening line. It shouldn’t be traumatic, but it is. Love this song.

  2. Anonymous says:

    This is an incredibly amazing album through and through.. The song “Don’t shut me down” actually applies to my life.. what an amazing Group and I hope they continue to put out music for a long time to come..

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