Barry Gibb At The Grand Ole Opry – The Top 10 Bee Gees Country Songs

A few hours ago the last surviving Bee Gee, Barry Gibb, walked off the the most hallowed stage in country music, the Grand Ole Opry. He performed three songs alongside country star Ricky Skaggs and received a standing ovation. As far as late career moves go, this is a home-run for Gibb. No other A-list artist like the Bee Gees has been so wrongly pigeon-holed to one genre (disco) in the eyes of lazy journalists, that to remind (or to educate) people of the wider legacy of the brothers Gibb is always welcome.

The late Robin Gibb was often sensitive to the word “disco,” biting back at interviewers that the Bee Gees were always about so much more than that word. And they were. You don’t sell 220 million records and write 21 different US or UK number one hits if you only deal in one genre. Of note though is that even if the word almost became dirty, particularly in the States, is that Barry Gibb recently said disco is only a bad word if you weren’t the group everyone most associates with it. As far as beautifully cool, totally accurate, back-handed self-back-slapping goes (quite a physical maneuver btw), that claim may take the cake.

Perhaps that was a sign of acceptance. Yes indeed, people made fun of disco and once upon a time, for a combination of factors including not just over-saturation but also implicit racism and homophobia people burned so-called “disco” records. But after all these years, who is more revered by both the public and critics: the Bee Gees and Donna Summer, or Styx and the Sex Pistols? Prog-rock and punk might’ve been cool, but in the grander scheme of things, album sales were drastically minuscule in comparison and the songs have not stood the test of time anywhere near as well as the likes of How Deep Is Your Love or I Feel Love.

All that to one side, Barry Gibb is rightfully held aloft as not just arguably, but statistically, the second most successful popular songwriter of all time after Paul McCartney. And being that he has just performed at the Grand Ole Opry, here is my Barry Gibb/Bee Gees country top 10:

Islands In The Stream (1983, a US #1 for Kenny Rogers & Dolly Parton – from Eyes That See In The Dark)

Rest Your Love On Me (1978,  later a US country #1 for Conway Twitty, written at the height of the disco era)

Don’t Forget To Remember (1969, a UK#2 from the Cucumber Castle album)

Sweetheart (1969, later a UK top 30 hit for Englebert Humperdinck, originally from Cucumber Castle)

Come Home Johnny Bride (1973, a dark horse of a song from an under-appreciated album,  Life In A Tin Can)

Marley Purt Drive (1969, my standout song from the stunning and eclectic Odessa – inspired by The Band)

Give Your Best (1969, pure country & western, so much so few casual Bee Gees fans can pick this as the Gibbs – also from Odessa)

Buried Treasure (1983, recorded by Kennry Rogers with backgrounds from the Gatlin Brothers, this is another standout from Eyes That See In The Dark)

South Dakota Morning (1973, a gentle country ballad with a sweet melody, from Life In A Tin Can)

Come On Over (1975, later a US top 30 hit for Olivia Newton-John, originally hidden on the blockbuster Main Course album that introduced Jive Talkin’ and Nights On Broadway to the world)

7 Comments Add yours

  1. gingersnaps says:

    Well said!!! Great post!

  2. MJJ says:

    Great post. I had fun predicting what he might sing at the Opry. You had my 3 most appropriate in your top 4: Islands In The Stream, Rest Your Love On Me and Sweetheart. He hasn't performed the latter for many years. Half hoped he may have done it last night. Instead, none of our entries figured!

  3. Hi there – thanks so much for writing. It just goes to show, a great song can be genre-bending. How amazing was "How Can You Mend A Broken Heart" in particular? It really seems like Ricky has taken Barry under his wing and it was very touching. I'm going to write a post about the Kenny Rogers album "Eyes That See In The Dark" because that really is a 5 star album. You could argue it's even stronger song for song than the "Guilty" album, though they are both sublime. But going back and listening to Barry's demos of songs like "You And I" and "Hold Me" and while not strictly country, they are majestic ballads. If Barry ever did a full country-esque show, I'd love to hear those songs too.

  4. Anonymous says:

    Fantastic blog. Thanks for writing this!

  5. Anonymous says:

    FYI: Barry Gibb released in 1970 a single in Europe called "I'll Kiss Your Memory" (Polydor). That number was as country as any of the songs you mention above.

  6. Amanda Bryan says:

    Hi Tim, love your blogs – especially on the Bee Gees – was thrilled to see Islands in the Stream as being your top Bee Gees country song – it's holds a special place in my heart. Barry singing How can you mend a broken heart brought tears to my eyes – a good song for when you feel like a darn good cry!!!! Thanks Tim

  7. Anonymous says:

    Wonderful list! Had fun hunting them down and listening. Barry Gibb is one of true gentlemen of the music world. I surely hope he's with us for years to come.

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