ABBA — “Take a Chance on Me” Courtship Dissected
The lyrics goes as follows:
If you change your mind, I'm the first in line Honey I'm still free Take a chance on me If you need me, let me know, gonna be around If you've got no place to go, if you're feeling down If you're all alone, when the pretty birds have flown Honey I'm still free Take a chance on me Gonna do my very best and it ain't no lie (Gonna do my very best, baby can't you see) If you put me to the test, if you let me try (Gotta put me to the test, take a chance on me) Take a chance on me (that's all I ask of you honey) Take a chance on me We can go dancing, we can go walking, as long as we're together Listen to some music, maybe just talking, get to know you better 'cos you know I've got So much that I wanna do, when I dream I'm alone with you It's magic You want me to leave it there, afraid of a love affair But I think you know That I can't let go … Take a chance on me (come on, give me a break will you? ) Take a chance on me Oh you can take your time baby, I'm in no hurry, know I'm gonna get you You don't wanna hurt me, baby don't worry, I ain't gonna let you Let me tell you now My love is strong enough to last when things are rough It's magic You say that I waste my time but I can't get you off my mind No I can't let go 'cos I love you so
What a sweetest song. The lyrics exceedingly describes a common condition among nubiles, and in its extreme sweetness and deference, of a lover soliciting a mate.
The human animals, when it comes to mating, have their own ways and methods. Elements of which have become peculiar items in pop culture, such as “pickup lines” and courtship etiquette, love songs. Let's look at the lyrics.
If you change your mind, I'm the first in line
Implied is that the target animal has showed disinterest in the past. And the line “first in line” is so sweet a line in that it shows the pursuer's meekness and deference, by putting forth acknowledgment of a presumed fact that the target animal would have a line of potential mates waiting, and yet she reminded him that she is the first.
Honey I'm still free
This line says a ton about courtship. “Honey” is the colloquial title of endearment. It is so because honey is sweet, and sweetness is a primal feeling of goodness among human animals. Primal because it came from food, and food is the most important thing in a animal's life. Among feelings associated with food, sweetness is the most good because when a food item tastes sweet it means its composition has high sugar, the most vital form of carbohydrates, which is the primary chemical element of energy source. Among sweet food items, honey is the most universal. Sugar, saccharin, aspartame are modern, synthetic inventions only known in recent era. Beets, sugar cane fruit, molasses, … are other sweet things, but none comes close to the universality, naturalness, trusted familiarity of honey. She addressed him “honey”.
And she pronounces, that “[she's] still free”. First of all let's look at the word “free”. Free of or from what? Ah, free from other love engagements. This “free” statement tells us that human animals usually court one at a time. Here, “free” means available, open to sexual solicitation. And, the issue of availability is often associated with the female sex. Long story of human sexual ethology aside, it is often the female's availability that's a issue. The short take is that females bear children, and one at a time, while males, are technically free at all times. (That is to say, copulation is biologically meaningful only approximately once a year for females. ). The opposite of “free” here would be “taken”, as that's the phrase sometimes used in courtship. (e.g. in movie “Queen of the Damned” amazon, in song Black Eyed Peas — “My Humps” )
Note she said she's “still” free. That indicates, she isn't always free and may not remain free. So, there's certain urgency in the message. She implied that she's not gonna be free forever, and the point being: “better act now if you are going to want me at all.”
Take a chance on me
The rub in this line is that there's some uncertainty involved. Certainly, the mating process ain't a scientific routine. If anything, it's half a chance event, and relationship can break off anytime. In a courtship, it would be foolish to mention this fact bluntly. But in a song, I note how sweet it is, to state such plain truth in supplication.
The next interesting line is
If you're all alone, when the pretty birds have flown
“Pretty birds” of course refers to pretty girls. Here, competition in mating is clearly seen. The matingship among animals are almost always fret with competition. In fact, competition in mating is a major cause of aggression. This is usually fiercest among males, sometimes fatal. Human males, start to fight for sweethearts starting at highschool. And among females, the competition is less pronounced. 'twas so, 'tis now. Today, we can see tidings of murder for love, on screen or in newspapers.
Besides competition, we gather that prettiness is a precious asset for human female animals when it comes to sexual competition. And here, the singer told us and her target, diffidently yet critically, that she may not possess the best quality in prettiness, but she is available. As a proverb advises: “a bird in the hand is worth two in the bush.”.
Gonna do my very best and it ain't no lie
Apparently, lying is a common stratagem among human animal's walks of life. The proffering about “do my very best” indicates that human animals deal with other human animals differently, apparently do not always “do the best”.
If you put me to the test, if you let me try
Here's another sweet beseechment, gently saying she's not going to force a relationship. In courtship, sometimes a party can be pushy. For example, a man can keep showering his target with gifts, without much of the girl's encouragement. Or, a girl can “come on” to a guy, by repeated verbal or body language or displaying her flesh, where the guy showed no sign of interest. Aggressive courting is often a vexation to the receiver, because, there's nothing worse than being pursued by someone you are not attracted to.
'cos you know I've got, So much that I wanna do, when I dream I'm alone with you
The multiplication process of human animals is not just: ① meet. ② copulate. ③ departure. Once a sexual partnership has formed between a couple, usually they stay together as lovers for a significant period of time (e.g. few years), and do a whole lots of other non-sexual things together.
Note the phrase “along with you”. Although coitus and other intimacies do not necessitate privacy, but are always done in private as a norm, out of complex social reasons not easily deciphered.
We can go dancing, we can go walking, as long as we're together
As noticed in the essay for ABBA's Dancing Queen, dancing is a fundamental mating ritual, and is often the activity for newly engaged lovers.
Listen to some music, maybe just talking, get to know you better
Notable here is the “music”, which originated from natural sounds such as rain, thunder, sea-wave. Although music is not essential in human life, but with respect to entertainment, it is a fundamental mean.
Things unknown or not understood are magic, which also comes with a positive connotation, as something wonderful. Here, magic or magicality is asserted in her wishful pitch.
You want me to leave it there, afraid of a love affair
Sometimes a love affair can be intimidating. Because, if it didn't go well, it can hurt and wreck a human animal by non-physical ways. “Blues”, depression, suicide for love are constant and perennial since time immemorial.
But I think you know, That I can't let go
Sometimes a sexual urge on a particular target can become a fixation. We have terms such as “crush”, “infatuation”, “having the hots [for]”. It can be obsessive and almost never explicable.
'cos I love you so
There she lays the ultimate edict. Of all lover's games and trickery, there's none as exigent, sincere, and heavy as “I love you”. One way or another, it is the show stopper.