The Constitution was made to guard the people against the dangers of good intentions." --American Statesman Daniel Webster (1782-1852)

Tuesday, March 1, 2016

Monday Music "Tragedy" by the BeeGee's

I decided to go with the BeeGee's .....again.   I know that some people didn't like the BeeGee's and they got typecast as a Disco band.  The truth is that they have been around longer than the Genre but they have been typecast.   I like Disco, I do remember the the anti disco sentiment, especially in the early 80's.  Disco had gotten squeezed out by the new wave coming out of England.  I think the backlash came from the fact that Disco was around longer than it should have been, rather than be remembered fondly like I do with my 80's music now, it was crammed down people and it was too much.  This caused the backlash.  I knew that the BeeGees were more than a Disco band, but Disco is where many people really heard of them for the first time.  The BeeGee's were extraordinarily talented musicians and the range of their music spoke of their talent and showcased it.  I also know that they seemed to drop off the planet for about 10 years.  I didn't know why but I am sure the anti-disco backlash caught them up as did many other acts from that era.    

"Tragedy" is a song released by the Bee Gees, written by Barry, Robin & Maurice Gibb, included on their 1979 album Spirits Having Flown. The single reached #1 in the UK in February 1979 and repeated the feat the following month on the US Billboard Hot 100.

Spirits Having Flown is the fifteenth album released by the Bee Gees. It was the group's first album after their collaboration on the Saturday Night Fever soundtrack. The album's first three tracks were released as singles and all reached No. 1 in the US, giving the Bee Gees an unbroken run of six US chart-toppers and tying a record set by The Beatles. It was the first Bee Gees album to make the UK top 40 in ten years (not counting the soundtrack for Saturday Night Fever), as well as being their first and only UK No. 1 album. It has sold 20 million copies worldwide.
Spirits Having Flown marked the tail end of the band's most successful era, prior to a severe downturn in the early 1980s when they would endure a near-total radio blackout (particularly in America) that Robin Gibb would refer to as "censorship" and "evil" in interviews.

The Bee Gees had been effectively typecast as a disco group after Saturday Night Fever, and in a 1978 interview Barry remarked "People think we're just about disco now. Of course that's not true. If you look at the SNF soundtrack, there's some dance music, but we also have ballads like More Than A Woman." In an attempt to counter this typecasting, the first single from Spirits Having Flown was the ballad "Too Much Heaven". The horn section from Chicago (James Pankow, Walt Parazaider and Lee Loughnane) made a guest appearance on this album. At the time, they were next door working on the Chicago album Hot Streets. Thus the Bee Gees would return the favour as they appeared on Chicago's song "Little Miss Lovin'" and their keyboardist Blue Weaver appeared on "No Tell Lover". The Bee Gees also recorded "Desire" for the album but it was rejected and instead released as a solo single by their brother Andy.

Barry, Robin and Maurice Gibb wrote this song and "Too Much Heaven" in an afternoon off from making the Sgt. Pepper's Lonely Hearts Club Band movie in which they were starring. In the same evening they wrote "Shadow Dancing" which was performed by Andy Gibb (and reached #1 in the US).
Though not originally in Saturday Night Fever, it has subsequently been added to the musical score of the West End version of the movie-musical. The song knocked "I Will Survive" by Gloria Gaynor off the top spot in the US for two weeks before that song again returned to #1 for an additional week. In the US, it would become the fifth of six consecutive #1s, tying the record with the Beatles for most consecutive #1s in the US.
In 1979, NBC aired The Bee Gees Special which showed how the sound effect for the explosion was created. Barry cupped his hands over a microphone and made an exploding sound with his mouth. Several of these sounds were then mixed together creating one large boom heard on the record. The song is also playable on Rock Band 3.


  1. I had a friend in college who was a music major.

    She mentioned a bit about the history of Disco when I offhandedly said something like "Disco sucks!".

    At the time it was happening, even the artists were concerned. The music industry had discovered that perfectly marketable songs could be produced with almost no need for actual performers. Maybe you couldn't replace the vocalist, but samples and electronics could replace the band.

    That was the impetus to the shove it down our throats, and people noticed.

    Because of her comments, I noticed that a great deal of Rap was a vocalist with sampled music in the background... so I never found it likable unlike many my age.

    Then again, I like Punk.

  2. I vaguely remember that one :-)

  3. I still love it when I hear the old music from the Bee Gees. What hair hath sung? They had hair. But you can't help but smile when you hear Stayin' Alive. Those were good times.

  4. The song's not as bad as I remember it. The lyrics aren't bad, not sure I ever bothered to hear 'em out when the song was popular. I worked as a deejay at small to medium market radio stations in the mid-to-late '70s, and occasionally spun records at parties or dances back in the day, so I endured more than my share of BeeGees and disco.