We need to talk about the Bee Gees.
Because they are amazing songwriters, performers, and artists.
Because they have amazing chest hair.
Because sometimes they wear crazy, cool medallions.
Because they’ve written some of my favorite songs ever. Which actually equates to they’ve written some of the greatest songs ever.
But mostly because I have no other interests right now. Everything else in my life is secondary to the Bee Gees at the moment. When I am not listening to, watching, or reading about the Bee Gees, I wander this planet we call Earth as a Zombie, barely stayin’ alive.
I remember first being introduced to the Bee Gees one Christmas when I was given Sgt. Pepper’s Lonely Hearts Club Band on VHS. Incurable Beatlemaniac that I was (and am!), I was initially crestfallen that the Fab Four were not the stars of this film–nay, did they appear to have any connection with the film other than the fact that they, you know, wrote all the songs.
But then I watched Sgt. Pepper’s Lonely Hearts Club Band.
And then I watched it again. And again. And again. I consider it nothing short of a miracle that the videocassette never gave out. And since then, I have loved the Bee Gees.
Fast forward to this past Fourth of July, a day most people in the United States spend celebrating the founding of our country, watching fireworks, and eating food. I’d tried to do those things and was even tolerating ten-minute commercial breaks during National Treasure just so I could hear Nicolas Cage say, “I’m gonna steal The Declaration of Independence.” Then I decided I couldn’t take it anymore and decided to browse Netflix for something else to watch. In “Feel Good Movies,” I found a winner.
Bee Gees: In Our Own Time.
Oh, Netflix, you darling genius. I hadn’t felt so good in months as I did watching this documentary again. (Shame on the person who checked out the DVD from the library and never returned it. Why aren’t people like you banned from libraries everywhere? You just plain stink.)
It reminded me of how much I love the Brothers Gibb.
First, there’s Barry (birth name: Raspbarry “Sweet & Savory” Gibb), also known as Wolfman. At least that is what my younger sister and I christened him while viewing Sgt. Pepper’s Lonely Hearts Club Band for the 300th time. You are an animal, ah-oooooo!
Barry is so awesome. I love Barry’s laugh. It’s like a nervous laugh, the kind of laugh that says (all in one breath), “I-just-said-something-that-I-thought-was-semi-funny-but-I’m-not-sure-if-anyone-is-going-to-laugh-so-I’ll-laugh-just-in-case-and-pretend-I’m-laughing-at-myself.” I love Barry’s soulful voice. I love his falsetto voice, and I love that he just happened to discover that treasure one day in the studio. I love that he, like his brothers, appears to be a balanced, genuine, compassionate person, unaffected by accolades and similarly undeterred by criticisms because he is so passionate about music and believes in what he does. You go Barry, you go. And I love that he is still going.
Oh, and can I just say: Major. Babe. Alert.
Seriously. I mean, if Barry were a US President, he would be Babe-raham Lincoln.
But my heart will always belong to another Gibb brother.
Robin. Oh, Robin. Where do I start? That voice? That amazing voice that is so melancholically beautiful? (A song called “I Started a Joke” isn’t supposed to make you cry, is it? It’s supposed to be funny, right? Wrong.) Or how about his articulate, astute opinions on anything and everything? (My favorite: his opinions and perceptions of the music industry.) Or how about the man’s adventurous fashion sense?
He could be cool and understated.
Or he could be studious.
Or he could pull off that look of I-plugged-my-hair-into-an-electrical-socket-for-too-long-but-I-still-look-awesome. Quite the feat!
Or he could pull off that look of…
Er, what would you call this? Never mind. It doesn’t matter. I love that he went through so many fashions, good and bad (and really, really bad). He had confidence! Truly one of a kind. Gone too soon.
Just like his twin brother, Maurice–Mo–Motown.
On the count of three: One, two, three….Awwwwwwwwwwwwwwwwwwwww.
And Mo was cute, too, wasn’t he? Just kidding! I actually was aw’ing about Mo, not Robin. But Robin was kind of cute, too. In his own Robin way. Which is the best way.
Okay, let’s get off this Robin detour and back to how much I love Mo. Because I do. I love Mo.
Mo was often the Man in the Middle, caught between arguments between the polar opposites that are Barry and Robin, and he was the amiable diplomat who mollified their disagreements and helped keep them together. He was an engaging and entertaining interview subject, gifted at recounting anecdotes and offering sincere thoughts and opinions. He was a gifted musician, able to play numerous instruments and even more willing to try and learn another. He was a member of the Beatles fan club (and later became Ringo’s neighbor!) and produced Tin Tin and the Osmonds (and probably some other artists, too, but I’m most impressed by these two). Barry is Barry and Robin is my favorite, but I think it would have been so much fun to hang out with Mo (especially if he could have introduced me to his neighbor with the big neb).
The Bee Gees are, in some minds, indelibly linked with disco, tight white pants, forests of chest hair, and some John Travolta movie. Those minds sadly forget the great pop music they crafted in the late 1960s and the mellow ballads of the early 1970s before they became a cultural phenomenon. They forget how they stepped out of the limelight after the disco backlash, choosing instead to write and produce chart-topping songs and albums with other artists, and how when they decided to re-enter the music industry as performers, they sailed to the top of the charts again. They forget the critical recognition, well-earned but not needed because the rest of us already knew what took the critics more than 30 years to realize, lavished upon the trio in the 1990s after even more successes, and they forget how their swan song, This Is Where I Came In, wasn’t even supposed to be a swan song but a promising and exciting return to the music world for the Brothers Gibb.
As I sat and watched In Our Own Time, I realized (yet again) how I can’t pick just one song or even an era out of the Bee Gees’ long career and designate it my “favorite.” I literally sat there, exclaiming every time they sang a song, “I love that song!” And I realized (yet again) not only how well-crafted and beautifully sung their songs are but also how timeless they are. “To Love Somebody” does not reek of 1967. It, like its creators, is timeless.
P.S. I babysit two young children a few days a week, and the five-year-old girl has introduced me to this show called Punky Brewster. When she decides that’s what she wants to watch, I try to leave the room and clean up the house, which is exactly what I did when she requested good ol’ Punky on Tuesday. Except I wished I hadn’t once I walked back through the room a few minutes later because…
“Oh my gosh, it’s Andy Gibb!” The little girl probably thought the house was on fire or something, the way I was screeching and convulsing. I had to explain that this man was a famous singer and had three famous brothers who also sang. (I didn’t mention that I was planning on marrying one of them in the next life.)
In this particular episode, Andy is the host of a “Miss Adorable” contest, and he gives the winner a peck on the cheek.
“I want that boy to kiss me,” my little friend confided. I just didn’t have the heart to tell her that wasn’t possible, but it was sweet. And seeing Andy Gibb in a sparkly black jacket and red leather pants totally made my day! There’s just no escaping the Gibbs. Not that I’d ever want to do that.
P.S.S. Who wants to play Twister on Robin’s sweater?