Barry Gibb: ‘You’re making me think these songs may belong somewhere in the show’ – In The Now With Tim Roxborogh Part 6

Barry Gibb in concert.

Last night I sat where Barry, Robin and Maurice would’ve readied themselves for their record-breaking concert at Western Springs stadium in Auckland, New Zealand on March 20th, 1999.* For the album launch of Barry’s new solo album In The Now, the team at Sony/Columbia recreated the backstage area as it would’ve been for the Bee Gees, just as it is for any of the major stars who still occasionally perform at the famous venue. Complete with the setlist from that night and various other props like medallions draped on dressing-room tables, there was a handy little rider too as we sat back and listened to the album.

On first listen the six-minute track Cross To Bear jumped out at me with a big hook and beautiful light and shade as Barry ponders the state of the world and the impact – positive, negative and mysterious – of religion. When my CD arrives today that will be the first song I’ll go for.

In the meantime, here is the sixth and final part of my interview series with Barry. For the most comprehensive article on the recent creative process Barry experienced with his sons Stephen and Ashley, click here to read Billboard magazine. It’s an outstanding extended feature that shines some serious light on how In The Now is very much a collaboration between father and sons. I’d also encourage you to read Howard Cohen’s latest Gibb-related piece in the Miami Herald. The longtime admirer of the Bee Gees is one of the best American music journos when it comes to recognising the brothers’ output as being so much more than just the Saturday Night Fever era.

As far as what this final transcribed section of my interview with Barry discusses, it covers Robin’s anxiety about whether late-period Bee Gees would get more hit songs, the fight the Bee Gees fought to get the respect back, some early 70s lesser-known Gibb gems and the professional as well as personal impact Linda Gibb has on her husband. The song from In The Now that Barry has written for Linda – Star Crossed Lovers – is at the bottom of the article. Thanks for reading, hope you enjoyed the series and let’s make sure the album has all the success it deserves.

Barry Gibb In The Now With Tim Roxborogh Part 6: ‘You’re making me think these songs may belong somewhere in the show’

TR: Do you really feel now that at this point in time, the dream did come true?

BG: Yeah, I do ultimately. I think that the full cycle, the dream came true. We had to go through a lot of nonsense, as you know, but in the end, while Robin was still anguishing about having another hit, I just kept saying to him, “Rob, enjoy what happened, it came true. It’s not like you still have to make it come true again. It’s OK. What we need to do is keep making the music that we love making and don’t worry about the charts.”

Charts were changing very fast, you know? I don’t even know in America what chart you’re supposed to be in anymore.

TR: There are so many…

BG: Well I miss Billboard and I miss Record World and Cashbox.

TR: I’ve heard you say that Robin always wanted that one more hit, and yet late period Bee Gees, you did actually get those hits. You know, For Whom The Bell Tolls (1993) was a top 5 in the UK and was a number one in South America…

BG: That’s right, I mean I think it was justifiable for Rob to want that because we all wanted that. We all wanted one more hit – that never goes away, you know, you want that. But if you weren’t going to get that, if that wasn’t going to happen… There was a period when we couldn’t get on the radio at all Tim. And that was probably my mid 40s for God’s sake! So looking back now, at that long time span, it doesn’t really matter. It’s OK.

People come up to me now and say the nicest things. And when there was a time when there was literally no respect at all, that’s changed completely. So, I don’t understand it, but I love it.

TR: I love it too. I remember when Maurice died that the thing that gave a diehard fan like me a little bit of comfort was it seemed like the respect had come back. I mean not long before he died the Still Waters album had been huge, the One Night Only album had been huge, This Is Where I Came In did well and then you put out The Record which went 8x platinum in New Zealand and it was then that Maurice passed away. So at least he would’ve died knowing that the Bee Gees, a lot of people like them! A lot of people respect them.

BG: Yeah. I mean I think we were always saying that to ourselves, you know? You know, “we shouldn’t worry about this negativity, it’ll be OK.” And I always felt it would be OK because we’d been down many times over the years, many times. We were down in 1972, we were pretty much done by 74 and then we made Main Course with Arif Mardin and it all exploded again. So you can never predict what’s going to happen next. You’ve just gotta’ keep your head down. And that was before Fever for God’s sake and that’s shocking to me! But we were done.

TR: I remember telling you when we did an interview in London in 2009 that early 70s songs like Saw A New Morning and Wouldn’t I Be Someone, [not to mention My World and Morning Of My Life], those were number one hits in Asia!

BG: Were they really? Geez!

TR: Did you know that Elisa – I only found this out the other day – a beautiful song where all three of you sang lead [also from the early 70s], was a top 10 hit in Rio in Brazil!

BG: What you’re doing to me now is you’re making me think these songs may belong somewhere in the show…

TR: Good! (laughs)

BG:…somehow. Whereas I wouldn’t have thought about that before (laughs).

TR: We have to have a little word on Linda. Last time we spoke you said, “Linda gave me a kick up the ass!” (laughs)

BG: No (laughs), she said “get off your ass!” (laughs)

TR: Oh OK (laughs). Well one of the two.

BG: Yeah well I’ve probably had both! (laughs)

TR: So what’s Linda’s influence on your professional life at the moment?

BG: Well everything. She’s not just my wife and my life partner, she’s also my biggest critic. So if I wander off the path creatively, she’ll walk past and she’ll say, “Well you’re gonna’ have to do better than that.” (laughs)

TR: And do you ever say, “Linda! Come on! That was pretty good, what are you talking about?”

BG: No! (laughs) Because then it turns into something (laughs). You don’t want to raise the bar, mate. You don’t want to ratchet it up (laughs).

TR: Right, OK, that’s probably good advice.

BG: No, I mean, it’s best to say, “OK love.”

TR: And is she right most of the time?

BG: Oh yeah. Well maybe I’ve had a couple of drinks and I’m just buggering about with the guitar, you know? And she’ll walk past (laughs) and say, “You’re gonna’ have to do better!” And I enjoy that. She’s sort of like a coach. If something really works well, she’s the first one to tell me, like these live shows or like the streaming that we did at the Hit Factory. When things turn out really well she’ll tell me right away, no-one else needs to tell me. If something didn’t work out, she’s got a way of telling me without putting it into words. So she’s right there.

Barry, Andy, Linda & a hair dryer – 1979.

TR: Why do you think you have one of the longest lasting marriages of anyone in showbusiness?

BG: Well first off the obvious answer is being in love and always being in love. What you might add to that is the fact that you really have things in common, that you’re great friends, that you have a sense of humour that you share about everything. So I think it’s a number of things Tim, I don’t think it’s one thing. I think when you find a partner you want to spend your life with it becomes a number of elements that make that happen. Also, I’ve turned out to be pretty stable, consistent – whatever the right word is (laughs).

TR: I like that there are images of you two recently walking down the beach hand in hand. That’s cute!

BG: Yeah, that’s us! And beyond all of that, we don’t think too much about what’s going on around us. Whatever we have to do we get done and between Linda and Dick Ashby who’s worked with me for 40 years now, we’re a very professional team. We get things done and we get ‘em done right.

Click here for Part 1: How Bee Gees Songs Were So Catchy You Didn’t Notice How Strangely They Were Structured


Click here for Part 2: ‘I always felt High Civilisation the song would’ve been a big hit’


Click here for Part 3: Barry Explains The Backstory Of ‘You Should Be Dancing’


Click here for Part 4: ‘These songs are my personal insight into my own life’


Click here for Part 5: ‘Bury me on Moreton Island’

*70,000 people attended that concert and it is still reportedly the highest grossing concert in New Zealand history. More people attended David Bowie’s all-standing 1983 concert at the same venue (80,000+), but no single concert has ever grossed as much as the Bee Gees did on March 20th, 1999.

 

4 Comments Add yours

  1. Anonymous says:

    Amazing article..I learned a lot I didn't know ..My favorite group of all time is the Bee Gees and now it will be Barry ..He is such a awesome musician..Can't wait for my CD tomorrow.. Looking forward to your next interview!!!!!

  2. Jostein Hansen says:

    I think that Robin more than anything else was stressed about that lack of respect they experienced, especially when it came to reviews of albums.
    Other artists like Brian Wilson, Paul McCartney and Bob Dylan often got 4 or 5 stars for albums not up to the highest standards.
    The Bee Gees often got 3 or 4 stars for albums at least the same quality.

    This bad output has changed for the better, but not in the case with Allmusic.com. The critics seems to think that it is wrong to put music with different styles on the same album. Well, The Bee Gees was well know for this and it worked superb. The Beatles also was praised for their diversity on Sgt Pepper and The White Album.

    It's really unfair and obviously a lack of respect that you treat artists different in this ways. Something that upset Robin more than alway hunting for new hits.
    I hope many fans will write their opinions to Allmusic and tell them that they are wrong in not focus on the music in a fair way.

    Barrys new masterpiece IN THE NOW is a kind of real wonderful organic artwork and deserves to be handled with deep resect. It will be played for many decades to come, and survive most of the music made today.

  3. Jostein Hansen says:

    Another terrible bad review is to be found in Standard by Columbia: "A veteran's indulgence, syrup-laden arrangements and vocal whistle." "The Bee Gees had an alarmingly low strike of truly great songs".

    Total without respect and sometimes lying, the critics comes away with it, they can't even have been listening to the whole album.

    It's very easy to find out that Barry has a more rock oriented sound here with very powerful vocals. And he delivers an impressing variety. There is only a few more soft songs. When the critics pick out only the soft style and seems to forget that the albums is dominated with a hard style they don't tell the truth. That's terrible wrong and it's sad.

  4. Jostein Hansen says:

    The bad critics had often nothing to do with the music, I feel that there is a sort of evil behind it.

    Should the "rock critics" not be allowed to be writing negative about an album if they give totally wrong signals about what's really the behold of the album? IN THE NOW has about 5 or 6 rock songs: GRAND ILLUSION, BLOWIN' A FUSE, HOEM TRUTH SONG, CROSS TO BEAR, AMY IN COLOUR and DIAMONDS.

    What has these song sto do with "vanilla", "syrup" and "old fashioned" style? Nothing!

    Should Barry or the record company complain, because the buying public dont't get correct information about the real sound of the album? It's too bad the critics think they can destroy an albums face by using en evil tactic. Paul McCartney did YESTERDAY, does that mean that all his songs is soft and "old fashioned"?
    Or do they expect 12 song in the Death Metal style? Then of course they should never have done review in the rock/country field.

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