Meaning of “Fernando” by ABBA

Fernando is a song by the pop group ABBA. The lyrics of Fernando are about two friends, one of whom is called Fernando. These friends, who were once freedom fighters, on a starry night, share their memories of a guerilla war they fought in several years ago in Mexico.

That said, it is worth taking note of the fact that the song, which was recorded in three different languages (Swedish, English and Spanish), has different lyrics and meanings. The Swedish-language version of the song, which was the original version, has lyrics that deal with love. It is basically about a man named Fernando who has lost his love and is being consoled by the singer. According to Björn Ulvaeus of ABBA, he wasn’t too impressed with that love theme of the lyrics of the Swedish version of Fernando since he found it too “banal”. Owing to this, he decided to change it into something more profound, hence the birth of the very moving story of the two freedom fighters reminiscing about the war they participated in when they were young.

The lyrics of the Spanish language version of Fernando have the same meaning as the lyrics of the English language version of the song. The only difference is that the lyrics are in Spanish.

Fernando lyrics

Facts about “Fernando”

  • Fernando was written by Benny Andersson and Björn Ulvaeus of ABBA and the group’s manager Stig Anderson.
  • Stig Anderson wrote the lyrics of the Swedish language version of the song.
  • Benny and Björn handled the production of the song.
  • The working title of the song was Tango.
  • The name “Fernando”, which eventually became the title of the song, was given to the band by Peter Forbes who worked as their driver.
  • Fernando sold over 10 million copies across the globe, making it one of the most successful singles in the entire history of music. It is also one of ABBA’s biggest hits.
  • The song (the Swedish version) was first released by ABBA member Anni-Frid Lyngstad as a single from her second solo studio album titled Frida ensam (which in English means Frida Alone) in 1975.
  • The song reached number one in several countries across the world, including the United Kingdom, Germany, the Netherlands, France, and Australia. On the U.S. Billboard Hot 100, it peaked at number 13.

Frequently Asked Questions about “Fernando”

 Q: Did Fernando win a Grammy Award?

A: Despite being one of the world’s most successful singles ever released, the song was never nominated for a Grammy Award. The only major award it won was the “Best Studio Recording of 1975” prize, which was also the first international honor of the group’s career.

Q: Which films and TV series has this song appeared in?

A: The song has appeared in such films as 1977’s ABBA: The Movie, 1993’s The Adventures of Priscilla , Queen of the Desert, and 1994’s Muriel’s Wedding. With regard to television series, Fernando has been used in a number of TV series, including on Epidemiology, the sixth episode of the American comedy television series Community and Water Park, episode 16 of season 1 of the American hit television sitcom Malcolm in the Middle.

Q: Which artists have covered “Fernando”?

A: Several recording acts have covered this song since it came out in the 1970s. Some of these artists include Ramón Orlando, Perla, Lotta Engberg, Audrey Landers, E-Rotic, the Olsen Brothers, and Pamela McNeill.


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19 Responses

  1. Randi sqaurtfigure says:


  2. Anita Biers says:

    I’ve always loved the song Fernando. I thought it was about a woman reliving the war she and her lover once were a part of. Fir a Swedish group to sing this is amazing. It has a timeless meaning and is a beautiful song.

  3. Anita Biers says:

    (second time I’ve wrote this) I’ve always loved this song. I though it was about a woman singing about her man during this war and perhaps both of them fought as revolutionaries. Whatever, it is a wonderful song depicting real events. Sings to your soul.

    • Kojo says:

      Anita Biers, thanks so much for your contribution. We absolutely agree with you when you say this song is a “wonderful song”.

  4. Kenneth Dunlap says:

    The fact that the song recalls crossing the Rio Grande would seem to indicate they were invading what is now The United States of America. That seems to imply the singer is recalling the Mexican-American War which was fought to determine which country would legally claim Texas. I am trying to use neutral language to avoid offending any citizens of Mexico. At the time, both America and Mexico were laying claim to Texas. I suspect that there may be some lingering ill feeling about the topic, and I wonder what motivated the song.
    It is a beautiful song, and I hate to think of it as representing an American war.

    • Fernando Diaz says:

      I wouldnt assure they were crossing to invade the US… in Mexico the river is called Rio Bravo. Rio Grande is the US name… dont know why its called different in both countries, but I guess the Texas war might be the reason.

      So maybe, they were crossing to Mexico to fight the Mexican Revolution of 1910-1917… in any case, I’ve been sang this theme for all my life, not knowing exactly what it was talking about. As you guess, my name is Fernando. I found this song to be so more interesting now that I know its meaning.

      • Peter S says:

        Could it be the Rio Grande river in Spain, and about the Spanish civil war? To me some of the lyrics reflect more this struggle .

        • AJ says:

          You are correct on several counts. The song says the lost! Huerte was defeated meaning that Revolution was one. Not once but twice, although Huerte took control after the first. I realize our Mexican neighbors would like it to be about them and they can believe this if they wish, but it is a bout Spain circa 1936.
          Remember, ABBA are from Europe. the fact that “Western” history would be in their knowledge bank is extremest slim at best.

          • Charley says:

            Bjorn was a reader and certainly any of the group could have had access to material on the Mexican Civil War as Sweden is a highly educated country.

  5. Kechke says:

    Before I read this I always thought the song was about the Spanish civil war but in hindsight could refer to any “brothers in arms” theme.
    Beutiful song never the less.

  6. Andy says:

    The song is more likely about the Mex Revolution roughly from 1910 to 1920 … Pancho Vila.. Zapata etc.. Nothing to do with USA except that it often spilled across the border (Rio Grande) as Guerilla fighters like Fernando fled or hid from Federales.

  7. D. says:

    Wow, very interesting to read everyone’s take on this song. I’ve always liked this song and speculated on it meaning. However my take was totally different. I thought it was about the Alamo. There were many who fought that battle who weren’t “white” Americans. Many Mexicans wanted independence from Mexico and fought to win it. Unfortunately that battle was lost but sparked a cry (Remember the Alamo!) that led to independence for Texas. That’s always been my take on the song. Don’t know if it’s right but whatever.

  8. Dennis says:

    Being a student of American history, my best guess is they were crossing into Mexico to fight with Pancho Via during the Mexican revolutution as many did. Freedom fighter, socialists or mercenaries, they were all there.

  9. Simon Jester says:

    I always assumed it was about the Spanish Civil War. There is a Rio Grande in Spain as well.

  10. Simon Jester says:

    Björn Ulvaeus, presents a vision of nostalgia for two veterans reminiscing in old age about a long-ago battle in which they participated. “I wrote all the songs as little stories. ‘Fernando’ was about two old freedom-fighters from the war between Texas and Mexico. I was lying outside one summer night, looking at the stars and it suddenly came to me”.

  11. Kate says:

    With only a few minor changes of words, it could also represent the Irish Troubles.

  12. AJ says:

    Unfortunately, although it appears to be a Mexico, it is NOT.
    It is about the Spanish Civl War of 1936.
    So why do I say this.
    The lyric “crossed the Rio Grand”
    Mexican freedom fighter in the EARLY 20th Century, did not cross from USA into Mexico and obviously would not be coming into USA.
    The Spanish Rio Grand around the area of Galacia, Spain is the Rio Grand in question.
    Look into the history of the Spanish Civil War and one will immediately see the relationship.

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