Hello, again, dear BLA Subscribers:
My feelings on the passing of Bee Gee Robin Gibb are complicated. As a young lad growing up in Boston during the sixties and early seventies, I was a huge fan of the early Bee Gees records. From New York Mining Disaster 1941, to songs like Massachusetts (where I lived), I Started a Joke, Words, I've Gotta Get a Message to You, Holiday, I Can't See Nobody, World, First of May and To Love Somebody, which I have performed myself many times, I loved these guys almost as much as I loved the Beatles. In 1973 I saw them in concert at Boston Symphony Hall backed by a full orchestra. I was mesmerized. After the show, we stood by the stage door to watch them make their exit from the building and into a small car parked at the curb. I'd never done that before or since.
Then, around the mid-to-late 70s, when they started to put out songs like Jive Talkin' and Nights on Broadway, I began to feel them heading in a direction I could not follow. We all know what happened next: Disco. As many of you know, I more than hated disco music. This was a time when I felt the whole world had been hypnotized except for me. This music was everywhere and I could not understand why. But when the Bee Gees recorded the soundtrack to Saturday Night Fever, I felt betrayed and left behind. This was not the same band I had grown up loving so much. But for the rest of the world, they had now "arrived" and were being hailed as the Kings of Disco. I could never again claim to love the Bee Gees. This was treason. I still would listen to the old stuff, but that band no longer existed in the present for me.
So in the past month as Robin Gibb lingered near death, I was sad, of course, for him and his family, and I was nostalgic for the early years when I avidly played their records and enjoyed his unique voice on some of my favorite songs, but for me, the Bee Gees died a long time ago. And as his death came just days after that of Disco Diva Donna Summer (who I always found massively sexy, who didn't? I never held it against her that she was associated with this music), and everyone is making so much about the fact that these icons of the Disco Era are leaving us, part of me is feeling like "Good riddance, that music sucked," while the better part of me mourns the passing of two artists whose contributions to our culture went beyond mere disco music. Both of them were true artists and had unique talents. But as purveyors of that music at that time, I also felt they were selling out to commercial trends of the day, and that is what I resented.
So, rest in peace, young Robin Gibb. Your music will live on. But it will be different music to different fans. The songs I will remember will not be the same as the ones others will. And that's okay, because that's what it means To Love Somebody.
(Published: Sun Jul 29 2018; Hits: 2)
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