Robin Gibb

24 05 2012

Wow. This hasn’t been a good month for 1970s disco icons. First Donna Summer passed away, and now the second of the three Bee Gees is gone.

(Actually, it looks like being a disco musician is a hazardous occupation. Vicki Sue Robinson, Andrea True, and Van McCoy are also dead – none of them reached the historically allotted three score and ten. I hope that Gloria Gaynor is monitoring her health closely.)

I don’t particularly like the Bee Gees’ disco music – as a test, I tried listening to “Jive Talkin'” and lasted about 40 seconds – but I’ve always liked their old pop stuff from the 1960s and early 1970s. They were able to write grandiose songs about love and heartbreak without sounding overly sentimental or self-conscious. I think it’s because the brothers Gibb tended to sing in something of a nasal warble – it made them sound more sincere.

As an example, consider “To Love Somebody”:

Who else could get away with singing “you don’t know what it’s like” – over a background of stringed instruments, even? I’ve heard cover versions of this, and many of them are unlistenable. (As a test of my intestinal fortitude, I tried to see how long I could listen to Michael Bolton singing this live. The answer is 34 seconds. The fist clenching for emphasis is what did me in.)

 

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