All I Ever Really Needed to Know I Learned from Ace of Base

“I don’t think I bought their CD.” -Matty, on Ace of Base

The other night, at the Hu-Stiles housewarming weenie roast of 2011, I took a lot of grief for the Ace of Base music on my iTunes. But if you pay closer attention, the music and lyrics performed by those clever Swedes offered all kinds of lessons for life. I picked out some of the most important takeaways from my favorite Ace of Base selections — “Don’t Turn Around,” “The Sign” and “Beautiful Life.” While I really enjoyed “All That She Wants” when I was in sixth grade, I found the message of the song to be a little too slutty.

Life is demanding without understanding
This seems like a simple lyric, but really, it’s a succinct expression of the human condition. The work of great artists, philosophers and theologians can justifiably trace back to this premise.

You can do what you want just seize the day
Perhaps Mark Twain said this better, but it’s riffing on the same principle: “Twenty years from now you will be more disappointed by the things you did not do than by the things you did. So throw off the bowlines. Sail away from the safe harbor. Catch the tradewinds in your sails. Explore. Dream. Discover.” (For me this means eating a lot of food and traveling a lot of places. But apply it however you’d like.)

Take a walk in the park when you feel down
I modify this to include any hike and bike trails, namely the one on Town Lady Bird Lake in Austin. But this is some solid, practical advice from my favorite early nineties Swedish pop band.

If you wanna leave, I won’t beg you to stay
Ladies, this is an important one. As Chuck Klosterman says, “Every relationship is fundamentally a power struggle, and the individual in power is whoever likes the other person less.” Look out for number one. Value yourself over a man who doesn’t care about you enough to stick around.

No one’s gonna drag you up to get into the light where you belong…(Where do you belong?)
This is my daily inspiration. Doesn’t need much explanation.