|Bruce Springsteen, Barry Gibb.
Writing this while waiting for my cab to take me to Auckland airport en-route to LA, here are some thoughts solidifying the links between the Bee Gees and Bruce Springsteen. At the Hollywood Bowl on Wednesday I’ll be seeing the final date of Barry Gibb’s acclaimed Mythology tour – a two and half hour concert where all but one song is written by the Gibb brothers.
The non-Gibb entry? Bruce Springsteen’s I’m On Fire. With Barry deeply moved by Bruce covering Stayin’ Alive in Brisbane earlier in the year (and again at least once on his current US tour), he promised to repay the favour. Bruce has gotten into the endearing habit of covering material relevant to the city he’s in as his show opener and as such, Australia and New Zealand were treated to Brucified versions of songs not just by the Bee Gees, but so too Lorde (NZ), INXS and AC/DC.
Most Bruce fans reacted positively to the slightly rough, Bobby Womack Across 110th St-esque reworking of arguably the most famous Gibb song. A small number thought it incongruous mixing the one-time saviour/future of rock ‘n’ roll with the kings of disco, but those people underestimate the enormity and breadth of both artists’ catalogues. Considering both Bruce and Barry are at the upper-tier of songwriting greatness, I saw nothing strange about it.
So with that in mind, here are three more Bee Gees songs for Bruce to cover followed by another three Bruce songs Barry could give a whirl. Even if for nothing other than sing-alongs in the Gibb or Springsteen backyard. In all reality, even if for nothing other than for me to kill time waiting for a cab. Bear in mind both artists have an unashamed love of the beauty and magic of a strong pop melody, are clear in their appreciation of not only pop, but country, folk and soul and are unafraid to use falsetto. The barely-buried country stylings of I’m On Fire combined with its falsetto ending made it perfect for Barry, though for the fun of it, there are a few others he’d love as well.
In my mind, the place where Barry and Bruce meet closest musically is in the prettiness of their melodies. Bruce might be known as a rocker, but many of his songs, particularly when stripped down to just a piano, are inherently pretty. Perhaps close genre analysis between Bruce and Barry reveals a meeting point in the more acoustic guitar based songs with country or soul music leanings, but it is the aesthetics of their melodies that I feel is the biggest unifier.
For those who don’t know the extent of the Gibbs frequent country music forays, note early albums like Odessa and Cucumber Castle, not to mention songs like Rest Your Love On Me (a country #1 hit covered by Conway Twitty) and most famously Kenny Rogers’ and Dolly Parton’s Islands In The Stream. The Bruce songs chosen all have Gibb-worthy melodies, could be potentially taken in a country / crossover direction and in the case of Sad Eyes, also have falsetto. Like many great songs, Sad Eyes could also quite easily genre-hop from pop to country to soul.
As for Bruce, he could do a similar job as he did on Stayin’ Alive with the Bee Gees 1975 stab at socially conscious rock ‘n’ soul, Wind Of Change. But first he should really dig deep into the Gibb cannon and head back to the 60s with three songs all with elements of folk, country, Americana, soul and blues. Bruce could sing these and you’d believe he’d written them. Starting with Bruce covering the Bee Gees, here are the songs:
Bruce’s Next Three Bee Gees Songs:
Song 1 – Sun In My Morning (1969)
Song 2 – Bury Me Down By The River (1970)
Song 3 – The Change Is Made (1967)
Barry’s Next Three Bruce Songs:
Song 1 – Sad Eyes (1990)
Song 2 – Two Faces (1987)
Song 3 – Secret Garden (1995)