The depressing loss to legends we will never see again has dominated the music scene in the past year.

After the deaths, tragically, of Charlie Watts, Dame Vera Lynn, and Mary Wilson (The Supremes founder), it feels as though we are saying goodbye all too often the musicians who shaped our lives.

That’s why today’s release of the first ABBA album in four decades – one they’ve promised will be their last ever collection of new music – feels somewhat miraculous.

Voyage is much more than just a collection new songs from the greatest pop group ever, it’s the greatest and most unexpected musical comeback of all times.

For my entire lifetime, my favourite band – Björn, 76, Agnetha, 71, Benny, 74, and Frida, 75 – had vowed they would never reunite.

DAN WOOTTON: I'm pictured with Björn Ulvaeus who took me for breakfast for my birthday while I was in Stockholm two and half years ago

DAN WOOTTON: I’m pictured with Björn Ulvaeus who took me for breakfast for my birthday while I was in Stockholm two and half years ago

Today, as ABBA mania overtakes the world, they simply declared, in their understated Swedish style, ‘Thanks for waiting.

I will admit that I was emotionally overwhelmed when I first heard the new songs around midnight.

I thought I was losing my mind, but Foo Fighters frontman Dave Grohl explained that he had the exact opposite visceral reaction.

“When I saw they were coming back, and they had a recording, I sent that link to 100 people I know, then listened and wept like babies. I cried like an infant. Oh man! He said it almost sounded as if time had not passed.

Dave is correct, of course.

We’re not grieving for the new songs as much as we should, but for the moments in our lives where the music from ABBA has brought us hope, comfort, and, most importantly, unadulterated joy.

It’s over two and a half years since I was first let into the secrets of this extraordinary pop reunion by Björn Ulvaeus, who is without doubt the brains and driving force behind protecting ABBA’s incredible legacy.

The new ABBA album 'Voyage' is seen on display at a record store in Stockholm this week

The new ABBA album Voyage’ can be seen at a Stockholm record shop this week

I had planned to take a trip to Stockholm to celebrate my birthday. It was a ABBA pilgrimage, which included the immersive experience Mamma Mia the Party and the museum.

After learning I was in town, Björn asked to take me for breakfast for my birthday (I was wearing my favourite T-shirt: ‘It might look like I’m listening to you, but in my head I’m listening to ABBA!’) where he told me about the incredible experience where the band’s original members – two ex-husbands and wives, remember – had worked together for the first time since the early 1980s.

He smiled with joy and said, “That was so perfect in its own way.” It was like going in to the studio 40 years back. As we stood there, it struck us that this was both natural and strange. It’s been 35 Jahre.

I was fascinated at the dynamic between the two couples. Their relationship was clearly fraught by their appearance on The Late Late Breakfast Show, November 6, 1982.

In recent years, however, he has been living a relatively normal Stockholm life (Bjorn is not bothered by the public during our morning together). He sees his ex-wife Agnetha quite often’. Agnetha explained that they have two children together and five grandchildren. It’s Christmas, but it’s also birthdays. I see her all of the time. That was all.

ABBA members Björn Ulvaeus, Agnetha Faltskog, Anni-Frid Lyngstad and Benny Andersson

ABBA members Björn Ulvaeus, Agnetha Faltskog, Anni-Frid Lyngstad and Benny Andersson

He was franker and admitted in a later conversation that London: “It would have changed if we had been forgotten.” We wouldn’t have even seen each other. I think that age brings with it a humility and a strength that strengthens the bonds between people.

He now describes ABBA’s working relationships as ‘two ex-married couples getting along very well.

There was a fear that Agnetha’s and Frida might lose their iconic voices as they entered their 70s. But, thankfully, that was not the case.

The harmony was’restored naturally’ with slight adjustments because the ladies were a tone lower. This is perfectly natural. But the quality and timbre of the music, as well as the story-telling qualities, are all still there.

Voyage felt like a re-entry to ABBA’s glory days when I read the reviews.

Many of the snobby critics are snarky, but they always have been. They were always that way, even when ABBA was releasing hits from SOS to Dancing Queen To Thank You For The Music.

And that doesn’t matter one jot – ABBA makes music for the people.

Voyage is a reflection on the maturity of a group living complex and fascinating lives.

Benny Andersson, Anni-Frid Lyngstad, Agnetha Faltskog and Björn Ulvaeus pose in 1974

Benny Andersson, Anni-Frid Lyngstad, Agnetha Faltskog and Björn Ulvaeus pose in 1974

I Can Be That Woman is about an abusive relationship and alcoholism. Keep An Eye on Dan (predictably my favourite track) is about the difficulties of sharing custody of a child.

Bjorn’s lyrics are full of the profound melancholy sometimes overshadowed in more upbeat melodies.

Even though ABBA doesn’t do public emotion or soppiness – it’s just not their style – during my meetings with Bjorn, who has been happily married to music journalist Lena Kallersjo since 1981, I could tell just how much this reunion meant to him.

He told me: ‘Coming together like that, for me at least, strengthens and solidifies and confirms…especially when the ladies went into the studio and stood by their mics and started singing, then, oh, it’s that sound. It was amazing. They started singing and it was ABBA. It’s a beautiful sound. It’s in Benny and me, and all the women to feel what is right and wrong for ABBA.

There is nothing wrong about today’s return of ABBA – it’s a musical gift for the ages we all believed was impossible.

Voyage is a great album to listen to. Remember all the amazing moments when these songs were there for you.