I wrote a post yesterday about it being 25 years this week since the death of Andy Gibb and mentioned that many music fans might be surprised to learn much of his songwriting was in the country vein. This taps into the endless frustration I have with people’s idiotic appraisal of late 70s music in that it either has to be “disco” or not.
The hang-up usually American music writers have over this word is startling. I once read a review of the Bee Gees-written 1980 Barbra Streisand album Guilty (incidentally her biggest selling album with 20 million copies sold and three US top 10 hits) which said she’d “gone disco”. There’s not a single song on the album that could be considered disco. R&B maybe, pop yes of course. But just because the Bee Gees are involved doesn’t mean it’s disco! Is Massachusetts a disco song? To Love Somebody? Islands In The Stream?
The disco era really is one of the strangest phenomenons in the history of popular music. It’s not strange for the music that was produced from 1975-79 (indeed much of what is considered “disco” is some of the greatest pop music ever), but strange because music journalists seemingly got walloped over the head with the stupid stick, leaving them incapable of comprehending that this was still pop music. Oddly enough, by the time the 80s rolled around and you weren’t an act associated with music you could dance to in the 70s, you were off the hook. If, however, shock horror, you’d released a song or two which could attract people to the dance-floor and the decade this had happened had a “7” at the start of it rather than an “8,” you were in serious commercial trouble.
This hangup, which had more to do with musical racism, homophobia, over-exposure and ignorance than anything else (“how dare black music dominate the charts – everyone knows white rock music is superior,”) was embarrassingly limited in its assessment of what bands were capable of. And like all the greatest bands and songwriting teams, the Bee Gees / Andy Gibb were never restricted to just the one genre. For further proof have a listen to this excellent Andy Gibb song from his first album Flowing Rivers.
The intro sounds like the beginnings of an innocuous little country jaunt, but where things get really melodically and harmonically interesting is the “I’ve been thinking about ya’ baby,” chorus. The slow midsection with the echoed “oh boy” lines recalls the song structure of Nights On Broadway and all things considered it’s a slyly complex piece of songwriting.
Somehow Come Home For The Winter didn’t make the cut on Andy’s CD of the Gibb brothers recent Mythology box-set, though I’m certain John Denver would’ve hit the US top 10 had he recorded a version of it. Indeed “Denver” is even mentioned in the song. Enjoy.