Barry Gibb: ‘These songs are my personal insight into my own life’ – In The Now With Tim Roxborogh Part 4

Barry Gibb

With just two days to go until Barry Gibb’s first solo album since the 80s is released – In The Now – here is part 4 in my series of transcribed extracts from the interview we did together at the start of September. I’ve pulled these sections of the interview with the biggest Bee Gees fans in mind and I hope you’re enjoying them – see the links below to read parts 1-3.

For part 4 I’ve chosen where Barry is talking specifically about the new album (co-written with his sons Stephen and Ashley) and what inspired it. Turns out Barry wasn’t just a heartbreaker as a young man, but that it was his heart that was frequently getting broken:

“By the time I hit 15 or 16 I was all over the map. It was perfectly normal for girls to dump me, they’d just dump me, simply because I was just too possessive and always getting myself into trouble. I couldn’t keep a long relationship going…”

Those early romantic experiences probably informed a great deal of Barry’s songwriting over the years and have come up again on In The Now. Barry also talks about being influenced by Bruce Springsteen on In The Now as well as the songwriters he grew up listening to like Carole King and Roy Orbison. Part 5 coming up tomorrow!

Barry Gibb In The Now With Tim Roxborogh Part 4: ‘These songs are my personal insight into my own life’

TR: How excited are you that you’ve got officially your second solo album? There was an unreleased one in 1970 and also the Hawks soundtrack (1988), so it’s sort of the fourth…

BG: Yeah that’s right. Yeah it’s sort of strange isn’t it but you know there was never really any great opportunity or time to put out solo albums. Robin did and between the two of us we really didn’t make too much of a noise with solo material. I think maybe the business, the industry itself, especially our record company, they didn’t want solo material. They wanted “the Bee Gees” and that really made everything a little more uphill. You couldn’t step out like Phil Collins was able to step out of Genesis, you couldn’t quite do that and without everyone supporting you. So it was many, many years before that opportunity came around and at this point Tim, I have the opportunity to record the music I really want to record.

So all the falsetto is restrained. I’ve come up with something that I think is based on great songs, not necessarily whether there are gimmicks there or not. What I love about this album is it’s a pure band playing. It’s a real band. There’s no programming, it’s everybody you hear is actually playing and that’s wonderful for me.

TR: How much of a conscious decision was it to have less falsetto?

BG: I didn’t think about it, I just didn’t do any leads in falsetto. I do play with the falsetto in various moments in the songs, but you know? The songs are my personal insight into my own life, that’s what they are. It’s my adventure and it’s our entire lives through my eyes. We can all have our own opinion… if you had Maurice’s story it would be different, if you had Robin’s it would be different, but you can only say this is our life story I’ve written, this is the music I love and this is the music I love now. Even the one End Of The Rainbow is basically about the loss of my brothers. There’s a reason – that’s it – there’s a reason for every song. There’s isn’t a song on this album that I wouldn’t put on this album.

TR: The Home Truth Song sounded to me like you were listening to a little bit of Bruce Springsteen. It also sounded very autobiographical – is any of that true?


BG: Oh no question, no question. These are influences for me today. I think Star Crossed Lovers is Carole King influenced and that was my greatest period as a teenager with Bobby Vee and Carole King and Neil Sedaka. So I loved all those songs and that definitely comes from that.


The Home Truth Song definitely comes from Bruce’s affect on me. And ambition. The song is really about bluster and ambition and “I’m gonna’ keep going no matter what.” There’s different styles, I think End Of The Rainbow is really a country song and that’s the way it is – I love country music…


TR: There’s a song called Amy In Colour which is quite an intriguing title…


BG: Amy In Colour, yeah! Well that’s the one night stand isn’t it, you know? That’s in every young guy’s life – that specific one night that will never happen again, but by God! (laughs)


TR: You never forget it! (laughs) There was something I heard you say that for most people, your heart gets broken, and even though you fall in love with somebody else and very much in love, that first heartbreak is something that stays with your whole life.


BG: That’s The Meaning Of The Word. And you know, you never forget that first thing at school, that first crush, you just never forget that. I’ve talked to Linda about it too and it happened to her as well, so it seems we all go through that event between the age of maybe 11 to 14. By the time I hit 15 or 16 I was all over the map. It was perfectly normal for girls to dump me, they’d just dump me, simply because I was just too possessive and always getting myself into trouble. I couldn’t keep a long relationship going and at that point – the first time ever I had those kinds of feelings – is really The Meaning Of The Word. But you know, that’s what these songs are – they’re a part and parcel of my life.


TR: One of your ex-girlfriends from childhood, I saw she did a women’s magazine article a couple of years ago saying, “Barry Gibb was my boyfriend back in the 1960s!” And she said nice
things and didn’t mention [you] being possessive or anything (laughs)…


BG: It depends it who is was. I mean if it was Carol, there was a girl I was dating when I was 15 and I think it’s her because we’ve seen each other in real life since then. And you know? We’re two people who now we’re 69, or she was 69 and I was 69 when we saw each other again. So that’s fascinating because it doesn’t matter what you look like as a person, it’s still in the eyes. And yeah, she dumped me! She dumped me and the next person she met at school is the guy she married and there it is. But you have these things happen to you when you’re a kid and in my own way it came back in the way of the song.


TR: I wonder how much what happened to you at a very young age informed your songwriting? The emotion that’s in your songwriting is incredible.


BG: Oh thank you. I mean I really think that that comes from somewhere that’s not explainable. I started writing songs when I was 8 years old and never thought about doing anything else. It seemed like, well, this is what I’m gonna’ do and I don’t know how to do anything else. It really became about listening to songs that appealed to me and trying to recreate songs with that kind of form, that was it. That comes to me about 8 years old.


Click here for Barry Gibb In The Now With Tim Roxborogh Part 1

Click here for Barry Gibb In The Now With Tim Roxborogh Part 2

Click here for Barry Gibb In The Now With Tim Roxborogh Part 3


3 Comments Add yours

  1. tgreer72 says:

    What a fantastic interview! Thank you for asking about things different from every other interview I've read. I found this intriguing and I could honestly HEAR Barry talking here. Bravo!!! (ps, I've always wanted to ask if they really used that explosion track – that he did for Tragedy – on the actual album…now I know!)

  2. You are a wonderful interviewer Tim! Thank you so much for these interviews with Barry. They are so detailed and I can tell that he's very comfortable talking to you. You made my day!

  3. You are a wonderful interviewer Tim! Thank you for conducting these interviews with Barry. They are so detailed and rich with content and an absolute dream for any Superfan . I love that he is so comfortable talking with you as it makes the interview that much more special You have made my days anticipating the In The Now album even brighter!

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