Barry Gibb joins country partners to bring his songs alive again. ‘I just want my brothers’
Barry Gibbs music, written with his brothers, once seemed to change the world.
Now, in a time of so many losses - personally as Gibb continues to process the deaths of his brothers, and generally as the world struggles through the COVID-19 pandemic - Gibb is changing his sound a little to adapt to the new world.
The only surviving member of the Family Harmony Group, the Bee Gees, has re-recorded some of the Gibb brothers' favorite songs - the country style.
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"My only mission is to keep these songs alive," said Gibb of his home on North Bay Road in Miami Beach of his new Nashville album. "It's all about this."
Jive is talking? Maybe not.
Barry Gibb from Miami Beach has his Bee Gees classics in Nashville with country artists as duet partners on his new album "Greenfields: The Gibb Brothers' Songbook, Vol. 1." The songwriter-producer is also the theme of the 2020 Bee Gees Documentary "How can you heal a broken heart?"
Gibbs creative, commercial rebirth
Gibb, 74, is enjoying the kind of creative and commercial renaissance that seemed common more than 40 years ago when the music he made in Miami with his brothers, twins Robin and Maurice and youngest brother Andy ranked number one in the world landed and dominated popular culture.
In December, "How to Heal a Broken Heart," Frank Marshall's documentary about the Bee Gees, was released with near universal recognition by critics. Fans, and even those who first dumped Bee Gees classics like "Stayin 'Alive," "Night Fever" and "Tragedy" rave on social media about how deep their love for the movie is.
The renewed love affair seems to have spread to the new album, Gibbs first solo release since “In the Now” in 2016.
On January 8th, Gibb released "Greenfields: The Gibb Brothers' Songbook, Vol. 1", a new album with 11 Bee Gees songs (13 in the Deluxe Target Edition) and a Barry Gibb solo piece that was never released. He recorded the collection at RCA Studios in Nashville last year before COVID as duets with country and Americana stars including Dolly Parton, Alison Krauss, Keith Urban, Jason Isbell and Little Big Town.
Barry Gibb is gone and he and the world couldn't seem happier.
This week "Greenfields" debuted at number 1 on the UK album charts, its first time as a soloist on the album charts and not since Bee Gees' spring 1979 album "Spirits Would Flown" and Barbra Streisand's "Guilty" fall 1980 (Gibb Cowrote and produced the Streisand album from Miami.)
In the US, “Greenfields” spent its first week in the top 5 sales charts for Apple Music digital albums.
"It was amazing," said Gibb. “I totally destroyed my mind. If you had told me six months ago that this was going to happen, I would have said,“ You are crazy. ”All the stars lined up and it all came together and I don't know why. I can not explain. "
Bee Gees covers
Since the first American hit "New York Mining Disaster 1941" in 1967, there have been thousands of covers of Bee Gees songs. So why not a cover that was set by the songwriter?
"To Love Somebody" alone had hundreds of covers in every genre of music by artists such as Nina Simone, Janis Joplin, Rod Stewart, Roberta Flack, Hank Williams Jr. and Leonard Cohen. The song that Barry and Robin Gibb wrote for soul singer Otis Redding, who died in December 1967 before he could record it, is sung with Jay Buchanan on Greenfields.
How "Greenfields" Land went
The idea for the album came like a jolt when Gibbs eldest son, musician Stephen Gibb, played a Chris Stapleton album produced by Dave Cobb for his father.
"I said," I have to work with this person. "Stephen put the iPhone in front of me and I was just starting to breathe heavily. This is real music. Real people play. And nothing is more important to me than playing with other musicians. Even Dave sits there and plays," said Gibb.
Stephen Gibb, receiving an Associate Producer Credit, flew to Nashville and helped set up the talent. Stapleton couldn't attend. Barry Gibb said he would ask the country rocker to join a second or third volume if he fulfills his dream of turning Greenfields into a trilogy.
Jay Landers, a veteran producer and artist and repertoire manager (A&R) who has worked with Streisand, Neil Diamond and Frank Sinatra, was executive producer on Greenfields with Gibb to oversee the project. In his A&R role, Landers helped choose the songs and secure the duet partners.
At first, Landers said, Gibb and Cobb weren't sure whether the album should include duets for every song. Gibb wasn't even sure he wanted to sing lead on every track. Landers helped orient the project around duets and mostly familiar material.
Parton and Krauss were the first two artists to sign up, Landers said.
“I'm proud of it, and proud of all the people who said 'yes'. Because that's a tough question: 'Would you come into the studio and sing a Bee Gees song?' It's not easy, said Gibb. “To have Dolly Parton and Alison Krauss and Keith Urban and Brandi Carlile and Little Big Town, what a gift. I am incredibly grateful to all of them. And especially to Dave Cobb because I didn't want to produce that. I wanted everyone to work with someone they all know and trust, and Dave was the guy. "
It was a dawn for Gibb to make the album. He says his next dream is to perform his music with these musicians and without an audience at the Ryman Auditorium in Nashville. Not just because of the pandemic, but also because he saw Alan Jackson perform his music in a live setting in the sacred theater with no audience and the environment and acoustics served the music so well.
"I'm not leaving because the country was in my blood as a child and since the 60s and 70s," said Gibb. "At this time of my life, that's the only real music for me."
Although marketed as country, the arrangements on "Greenfields" stay close to the pop originals, with the exception of a slower tempo on "Jive Talkin", which Gibb sings with Buchanan and Miranda Lambert.
Otherwise, Cobbs listen to lavish string arrangements with choices such as "I need to send you a message", "With the sun in my eyes" and "Tomorrow of my life" to the lush orchestral pop arrangements of Elton John's "Madman Across the" Water "( 1971 by Paul Buckmaster) or Neil Diamonds "Serenade" (1974 by Jimmie Haskell).
“I had a lot of trouble getting everyone to get steel guitar on this album and I got that on 'Rest Your Love on Me', but I don't mind that it's not on other tracks because each track is individual has to be special and that's what Dave does, ”said Gibb.
“Some of the most encouraging aspects of this project? See firsthand how much love and respect the guest artists had for Barry, ”said Landers. “It is a misunderstanding to believe that country artists only listen to country music. The Bee Gees songs have permeated every corner of the world from Nagasaki to Nashville. It wasn't really difficult to transform these songs from their origins into local arrangements. There is a direct link between R&B, country and rock and roll. So when the song is well crafted, it's natural to interpret it in a variety of genres, styles, and tempos. "
The land roots of the Gibbs
September 1998 file photo of The Bee Gees group, from left, Maurice, Robin and Barry Gibb. Maurice Gibb died in 2003 at the age of 53. His twin Robin Gibb died in 2012 at the age of 62.
Gibb doesn't just rewrite history to sell a new project. Despite the popular and inaccurate perception that the Bee Gees were a disco group due to 1970s hits like "You Should Be Dancing" and their series of "Saturday Night Fever" shashes, country has since become part of Gibb's music -Brothers filtered were teenagers making music in Australia and England.
"Butterfly", the oldest and most bluegrass-oriented composition on "Greenfields", sung here with Gillian Welch and David Rawlings, was written in 1966 by Barry, Robin and Maurice Gibb.
"Rest Your Love on Me", reworked for "Greenfields" starring Olivia Newton-John, who sang the ballad for the first time with Andy Gibb on his 1980 album "After Dark", hit the Top 40 on the Billboard Country Charts, when DJs turned the scene, Bee Gees' "Too Much Heaven" 45 played its Twangy B-side in 1978. Country legend Conway Twitty also got his cover number 1 in 1980.
It is best known that Gibb co-produced and co-wrote Kenny Rogers' 1983 album "Eyes That See in the Dark". His hit "Islands in the Stream" with Dolly Parton became RCA's best-selling single for a while.
“Some of the tracks that Maurice recorded alone were like Johnny Cash. He loved that stuff, ”said Gibb. “Robin wasn't that much of a country fan. He was more into what could be a hit. But Mo and I would become the Everly Brothers at night - but not Robin. He didn't like singing socially or in an intimate setting that Mo and I would do anywhere. And so it grew and it was such a long journey. "
Rethink old melodies
Gibb calls "Greenfields" his dream project. “I got what I wanted. I made another dream come true in some way. I now know that if I'm a pest I can make things happen, ”he said with a laugh.
He also hopes the new versions will awaken a different audience to his family's music.
"The original concept for me was to bring the songs back to life and in a different way - to make people understand that they are good songs," he said. “If you only hear the version of Bee Gees, you may not understand. But when you're listening to someone else, sometimes it works more often than not. "
Gibb quotes some songs that stand up to rediscovery.
"Butterfly" and "Words of a Fool" [with Jason Isbell] are jewels and only came to light when these people sang those songs. Singing with Gillian was like singing with my brothers.
"Rest your love on me," he adds. "Olivia, she wasn't doing well for a while and she was so happy to be in a studio and singing. That was different again and I grew up with this girl. Brandi's" Run to Me "was amazing. She's amazing and will be one of the big ones. "
Don't necessarily call these new versions "improved", however. Gibb doesn't think so.
"I'm not thinking of improving anything. The original records are the original records. You will never walk away from that. There are songs I think we could have done better. I think" Words "could have been a better recording I don't know if we improved it [on "Greenfields"] but I think there is something special about letting Dolly sing it ... It doesn't have to be an improved version or a better version, it's just a different one Version. "
New use for old songs
This world has lost its fame / let's start a brand new story now my love /
Right now there won't be another time / And I can show you how, my love.
- Words (Barry, Robin and Maurice Gibb / 1967).
Gibb also came to a new insight during the COVID crisis. Words are important.
"The texts are so important now with the pandemic," he said. “It was only a few weeks ago that I was struck by how important some of these words are. For example, "How can you heal a broken heart?". You can send this to someone you might not be able to visit. You can send "Words of a Fool" to someone and say what you want to say without speaking. That means a lot to me now because we're all stuck at home. You can say in songs what you can't speak. You can get away with anything when singing, that's the difference. "
For Gibb, this attitude meant reaching out to his former co-producers Albhy Galuten and Karl Richardson, with whom he, mostly with his brothers, produced 13 No. 1 singles in America. These included "You Should Dance", "How Deep is Your Love", "Stay Alive", "Night Fever", "Too Much Heaven", "Tragedy", "I love you inside out", "I just want." . " Be your everything ”,“ Shadow Dancing ”,“ Grease ”for Frankie Valli,“ Woman in Love ”for Streisand and the Rogers / Parton duet“ Islands in the Stream ”.
"It's a stupid world, but we're stuck in it and we need to be safe and take care of ourselves and our families. We're calling people who haven't called you in years about the pandemic," Gibb said.
“Albhy and Karl. I hadn't spoken to them in 30 years and told them how much I loved them and that I hope we can do another record together. I thought it was necessary. I had to tell them how much fun we were having and how much I cared about them. Because of this pandemic, if you love someone, tell them. I miss that now and you can use the songs for that too, ”said Gibb.
Bee Gees documentary
The Bee Gees share the honor of winning the 1997 International Award at the American Music Awards with their mother Barbara Gibb. L-R: the late twins Maurice and Robin Gibb, Barbara Gibb and the eldest son, Barry Gibb.
But there's a huge part of his past that Gibb still can't grapple with: the documentary "How to Heal a Broken Heart" that everyone seems to love.
His brother Andy died in 1988 at the age of 30. Maurice died in 2003 at the age of 53. Robin followed in 2012 at the age of 62. His musically gifted parents Hugh and Barbara Gibb have also disappeared.
"I didn't see the documentary," said Gibb. “I saw about 20 minutes of the first cut. I made some comments and then distanced myself from them because I can't see my family go away. That is a difficult question. But the response is so incredible it doesn't sound right. It doesn't sound right. But nobody said anything negative about this documentary. It's a pleasure. What I am saying now is that the past is unpredictable.
“I used to imagine three of us as 80-year-olds sitting around laughing at everything. I didn't know that would never happen. So you can't have it all.
"I just want my brothers," said Gibb. "That's what is real."
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