Though Anni-Frid Lyngstad, a.k.a. Frida, is best known for her work as part of Swedish supergroup ABBA, her career as a solo artist has almost as many fabulous synth-heavy songs to enjoy.
When ABBA broke up in 1982, Frida had already been planning her solo career in secret. Working with legendary producer and musician Phil Collins, she recorded her comeback solo album Something’s Going On. Its lead single, “I Know There’s Something Going On,” was a breakout hit, but all 11 of the album’s tracks are a stellar display of Frida’s talent, including the moody, dreamlike “To Turn The Stone.”
The meaning behind the song is difficult to decipher. Despite the full version being over five minutes long, “To Turn The Stone” doesn’t have many lyrics, consisting of just three choruses and a whole lot of Collins’ signature reverb-heavy production.
Frida opens the song singing, “The moon retreats behind a silver cloud / As darkness throws its cloak towards the earth / And mystery replaces what we thought we knew / To turn the stone, to turn the stone.”
It may sound nonsensical, but Frida’s voice is killer, as always.
The music video doesn’t bring any clarity, but it sure is fun to look at. The video sees Frida appearing in a burst of sparks in a cave full of fog and dramatic lighting. She sways and sings as the sun slowly rises.
Meanwhile, there are more crossfades than you can count, showing a truly bizarre set of images: a cat, an undulating dancer holding a glowing rod, a second cat, a pile of barbed wire, a mysterious orb, a shattering lightbulb, multiple explosions, heavy rain, and a soaring bird of prey.
Oh, and Frida changes into a red lamé outfit at some point. High camp.
Check it out.
“To Turn The Stone” wasn’t a single, but it was one of only four songs on Something’s Going On to get the music video treatment. The album was released in October 1982 and has since sold more than 1.5 million copies, making it the highest selling album by a former member of ABBA.
Though Frida was the first to release a recording of “To Turn The Stone,” the song was actually recorded a year earlier in 1981 by Donna Summer for her double album I’m A Rainbow. The track was written by Giorgio Moroder and Pete Bellotte, a songwriting duo known for their disco hits that Summer had been working with since the ‘70s.
Summer recorded 18 tracks for I’m A Rainbow, including “To Turn The Stone,” but issues behind the scenes saw the album shelved indefinitely. With Summer’s version apparently scrapped, Moroder and Bellotte instead licensed “To Turn The Stone” to Frida.
15 years later, Summer’s 1981 recording was finally released in 1996 with virtually no promotion. Her version of “To Turn The Stone” is more upbeat, and it sounds like the lovechild of a robot and a set of bagpipes.
Listen to Donna Summer’s version.