Not sure where or how to start this rant, but — well, let me just call all of RTH out (yes, including me) for being a bunch of bullshit rockist pansies. How is it possible that in the 15 years or so that we’ve been bloviating about music we’ve never stopped to acknowledge how truly amazing the Bee Gees were?
And look — before any of you start yammering about their output in the ’60s, or their silly-psych concept albums, or any other rockist justification for liking the band — let’s just call a spade a spade: during the second half of the 1970s, the Bee Gees’ batting average for crafting powerful, moving, era-defining, ethnic ghetto-busting pop music was literally close to 1.000.
My wife and I had to spend a lot of time on the highway over the last few days for work reasons that are too boring to get into here. Because my shoulder is still pretty jacked up, my wife had to do all of the driving — and that meant she got to choose what we listened to as we trundled down the highway. For a while, I was able to sneak shit that I wanted to hear on the rental car stereo, but it didn’t take long for her to start making specific demands — and the last one, made in the interest of staying awake and alert, was “play something you can dance and sing along to.” Enter the Bee Gees. I found a pretty generic greatest hits package on Amazon Music, and pressed play. A full hour later, I was shocked by the fact that we hadn’t exited the 1970s yet, and each and every tune we’d heard was aces.
And let me be clear: sure, these tunes are danceable. Yes, they’re catchy. They do make you feel happy. But they’re stealth vehicles for some of the densest Kentonism in pop music. I’m not smart enough to describe the music theory going on behind “Nights On Broadway,” or “How Deep Is Your Love,” or about a dozen other songs that owned the charts 45 years ago, but their music was some seriously brainy shit.
So let’s give it up for the Bee Gees, shall we? And please do so without referencing their 1960s output. That stuff is occasionally excellent, but we need to face the truth here: the Bee Gees made pop music great in the late 1970s.
I look forward to your responses.