B is for the Bee Gees

The Bee Gees were worthy additions to the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame in 1997.

When I was a teenager, my sister had this album Best of Bee Gees, with all of the early hits, such as I’ve Gotta Get a Message to You [LISTEN], To Love Somebody [LISTEN], and what I thought was their first hit, in 1967, New York Mining Disaster 1941 [LISTEN], plus a couple of B-sides, and this oddity called Spicks and Specks [LISTEN].

It was only later that I discovered that Barry Gibb (b. 1946), and his twin brothers, Maurice and Robin (b. 1949) had moved with their family, including baby brother Andy (b. 1958), from England to Australia in 1958, where they would achieve some musical achievements; Spicks and Specks went Top 10 in the Netherlands, the UK, and Australia, and went to #1 in New Zealand in 1966. Their return to the UK the next year led to true international stardom.

The brothers had even greater success in the early 1970s with their first #1 hit, How Do You Mend a Lonely Heart [LISTEN], and Lonely Days [WATCH], which it was rumored at the time featured John Lennon; it did not. But then the group then went into a commercial slump for a few years until the music went into a new direction: disco. Jive Talkin’ [LISTEN] (1975) and You Should Be Dancing [LISTEN] (1976) both went to #1, but that was just a foretaste of what was to come.

The Bee Gees were assigned to do the music for the movie Saturday Night Fever. They racked up three more #1 singles – How Deep Is Your Love, Stayin’ Alive [LISTEN], and Night Fever. Plus, they also wrote hits for Tavares – More Than a Woman – and Yvonne Elliman – If I Can’t Have You, which went to #1. I remember taking a lot of grief for owning a disco album, but LOTS of people owned this collection. In the US alone, it sold over 15 million copies. “The album stayed atop the album charts for 24 straight weeks from January to July 1978 and stayed on Billboard’s album charts for 120 weeks until March 1980.”

Their follow-up album, Spirits Have Flown, included three more #1 hits, but I never bought it, or indeed any of their subsequent music until I finally picked up a career retrospective. I only have their Sgt. Pepper movie soundtrack because it was given to me. Still, the Bee Gees were worthy additions to the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame in 1997. Their HoF citation reads, “Only Elvis Presley, the Beatles, Michael Jackson, Garth Brooks, and Paul McCartney have outsold the Bee Gees.”

Unfortunately, Andy Gibb, who also had a string of hits, mostly written and produced by his brothers, died in 1988 of heart failure at the age of 30. Maurice succumbed to cardiac arrest in 2003 at the age of 53, “while waiting to undergo surgery for a twisted intestine.” Robin, who was the lead vocalist for most of the earlier hits, died in 2012 at the age of 62 from liver and kidney failure.

Only Barry, the eldest, whose falsetto voice defined the later hits, survives, and he noted sadly that he was estranged from each of his brothers when they died. Barry, incidentally, has, as a songwriter, #1 songs in each decade from the 1960s through the 2000s, and is listed in the Guinness World Records “as the second most successful songwriter in history behind Paul McCartney.”


ABC Wednesday – Round 14

D is for Death

Death is such an uncomfortable subject, even though most of us will experience it eventually.

When someone significant in my life dies, I like to mention him or her in this blog. They don’t have to be people I actually met, but are usually people who inspired me in one way or another. The late Roger Ebert’s birthday was June 18, and I had a passing recollection of how well he wrote about issues other than movies in the latter stages of his life.

Paul McCartney, who shared a birthday with Ebert – both were born in 1942- put out an album in 2007 called Memory Almost Full. The penultimate song was The End of the End [LISTEN], which had these lyrics:
“On the day that I die, I’d like jokes to be told And stories of old to be rolled out like carpets That children have played on and laid on While listening to stories of old.” He said on the audio commentary disc to the album that the song was inspired by someone who said, “I wish you a good death.” This initially startled him, but then he started to think of the tradition of the Irish wake, and he gained a greater understanding of the sentiment.

Death is such an uncomfortable subject, even though most of us will experience it eventually. I’ve been to LOTS of funerals in my time, quite a few fellow church members from my last two churches. I’ve come to the conclusion that being there trumps almost anything one can say because almost anything said can be taken wrong:
“Well, she lived a long life.” True, she was 92, but they wanted her to be there at 93 and 95.
“He’s in heaven now.” Even if all the parties believe this – some don’t – I’ve seen it used as an attempt to shortcut the grieving process, some theological variation of “Get over it.”
“It’s for the best,” usually said of someone who passed after a lengthy and/or painful illness. While this may be true, it’s not for YOU to say. On the other hand, you can say, “If you want to talk…” And let THEM talk.

This article about former BeeGees singer Barry Gibb losing all of his “brothers without being friends with them” is very sad because it is not unusual. Someone dies and issues remain permanently unresolved.

Whereas I enjoyed the story about National Public Radio’s Scott Simon chronicling his mother’s last days on Twitter. I mean, I wouldn’t have done it, but given his mom’s show biz past, it was appropriate for them.

I really liked the poem included in this blog post, which also includes this narrative: “For a time, it feels like the whole world should stop, when a loved one dies. I remember experiencing that feeling so strongly… Perhaps the nicest thing you can do for someone who has lost a part of their world, is let your own world stop, if only for a moment.”
It occurred to me I never gave props to Helen Thomas, pioneering White House correspondent, mostly because I had nothing to add to what others said.

I’ll also mention John Palmer, NBC’s White House correspondent, and later, a newsreader for the TODAY show, back when it was still doing news.

Michael Ansara was an actor who “specialized in playing American Indians and aliens”; he was actually born in Syria and was married for a time to Barbara Eden.

ABC Wednesday – Round 13

The WORD Section

I wonder if automatic spellcheck is to blame.

From Salon: Your words matter -New science shows brains are wired to respond to certain kinds of speech. This was revealing.

Cursed Cursive. As I told GayProf, “First marking period, third grade, I actually DID receive a D in handwriting; I was careful enough thereafter to get it up to a C.”

This seemingly mundane correction from Canada’s Hamilton Spectator:
“In the June 16 edition, the name of Hamilton waterfront restaurant Sarcoa was misspelled. The Spectator regrets the error.
“No, it’s not great for a new restaurant to have its name misspelled in the local paper. But even worse is the mistaken name offered by the paper.”
I wonder if automatic spellcheck is to blame.

The “word” on Richard Dawson, who has died at the age of 79, is that he set out to be Peter Sellers or Jack Lemmon and was frustrated that he wound up being Bill Cullen. But this is a lovely story.

Dustbury’s #OccupyGrammar – Word Up

*Arthur sometimes has trouble Finding the Words. Then again, I don’t always know HWAT he’s saying.

*Mark Evanier tells The Olaf Story, and also notes that “Forever” Doesn’t Mean Forever

A couple songs, both from groups with a member who has died recently:
The Bee Gees- Words (Robin Gibb) and The Monkees – Words (Davy Jones)

May Rambling: Stolen Scream and lots of music

THE QUID IS A COOL ROCK BAND that gained some success during the Garage Band era in Winnipeg, Manitoba, Canada


The Stolen Scream (via Steve Bissette’s Facebook page). Creative theft is a global phenomenon. “The Stolen Scream” is a snapshot of just one such phenomenal, almost spontaneous international appropriation of an artist’s (in this case, a photographer’s) work.

A death that was also a birth. “As a midwife, I’ve spent the last 30 years taking care of women in pregnancy. But nothing prepared me for this.”

It’s a horrible cycle I’m quite familiar with and occasionally adore. After all, anxiety is king, and I am its lowly peasant. Going into public, whether a store, the movies, a restaurant or a family function, is exhausting. (New blogger, a friend of a friend.)

Another Supermarket Interlude.

James Lipton gives Mitt Romney advice on how to come across as a more “authentic” human being. Of course, while some cannot forgive his economic policies, Willard being the Demon Barber of Wall Street and/or a flip-flopper, there are others who want to forget every mean word they’ve ever said about him.

Will the leaning tower of Pisa fall over?

7-UP: a Branding Revolution

It’s the second half of Mark Evanier’s story about his high school yearbook that’s really entertaining. He also writes about The $10,000 Pyramid, one of my three favorite game shows ever, and shares someone’s story about Dick Cavett, who I used to watch religiously on late night TV.

Upfronts: 2012–Video Trailers. Clips of the various new shows from the networks.

Steve Bissette has me wanting to see the new Dark Shadows movie, which I had previously dismissed. A Pac-Man movie and Movies With Matching Titles.

A Yank’s Humble Guide To Kiwi Music (Part II)

The Music of Nick McKaig, performing the Star Wars Theme (which Jaquandor linked to), some Christmas songs, plus TV themes such as The Simpsons, The Muppets, Friends, The Office, Mission: Impossible, and more.

A week’s worth of Na

Pictures at an Exhibition – especially check out the guy playing it on solo acoustic guitar.

THE QUID IS A COOL ROCK BAND that gained some success during the Garage Band era in Winnipeg, Manitoba, Canada, from the POV of the wife of a former band member.

The obligatory Muppets segment: Racialious crushes Kevin Clash and Harry Belafonte; the latter has a song that shows up on SamuraiFrog’s 50 Favorite Muppet Songs. Do I want GPS via Sesame Street?

Brothers In Arms, the Dire Straits album, covered. Also, Coverville 867: The Beastie Boys Cover Story (and Adam Yauch tribute), and Coverville 871: The Donna Summer Cover Story, and Coverville 872: The Robin Gibb/Bee Gees Cover Story III.

Dustbury: “It bothers me a great deal that we’re now down to one Bee Gee. And I think it’s because it’s Barry, the oldest of the brothers, who’s still with us;” he speaks from experience. Arthur’s complicated feelings about the BeeGees, and especially Donna Summer. And here is Donna Summer’s MacArthur Park Suite (Extended Version), all 17+ minutes of it, the way I remembered it.

The New York Times obit of Doc Watson, legendary guitarist and folk singer.

The True Story Of The Traveling Wilburys


What happens to your online content when you die?

Dumb and dumber?: Study finds level of Congressional speech in decline


On April 24th Joe Sampson performed a ten-song set with some of his friends joining him onstage. Nathaniel Rateliff, Roger Green & Esme Patterson joined him on stage and together they performed songs from Joe’s latest album.

But the club’s move to appoint Avery, alongside Roger Green, has been one of the masterstrokes of Sticker’s recent history.

Blogging meme about blogging is a Cardinal Sin

Any number of TMI moments.

The late Cardinal Jaime Sin of the Philippines.

From Sunday Stealing back in November.

1. Why did you sign up for writing your blog?

An existential crisis of powerlessness.

2. Why did you choose your blog’s name? What does it mean?

Ramblin’ with (John) Gambling, a radio show.

3. Did you ever had another blog?

Not before this blog; a few since.

4. What do you do online when you’re not on your blog?

Limited Facebook and Twitter.

5. How about when you’re not on the computer?

Mostly tend to the Daughter.

6. What do you wish people who read your blog knew about you?

I think people who read my blog know just what I want them to know about me.

7. What is your favorite community in the blogosphere?

ABC Wednesday.

8. What is your philosophy on your blog layout?

I have none – philosophy or a particular layout.

9. Tell me about the picture you use to represent you on your blog.

It’s a caricature of me that the late Raoul Vezina drew for a friend of mine.

10. Pick 3 random blogs from your blogroll and tell us about them.

Byzantium Shores – well-read, and an extremely handy guy from Buffalo named Jaquandor who knows music.

Shores of Orion – a blog by Chris Honeywell, who’s a Christian Scientist. No, that’s not right. She’s a scientist (mathematical biogeochemist) and a Christian, among other things.

Mike Sterling’s Progressive Ruin -a comic-book-related blog I’ve been reading since before I started blogging.

11. What features do you think your blog should have that it doesn’t currently?

Big explosions.

12. What do you consider the 10 most “telling” interests that we would infer from your blog persona?

Music, religion, politics, civil rights, family, English language, movies, books, libraries, data

13. Do you have any unique interests that you have never shared before? What are they?

Yes, and I will when I get good and ready to.

14. The best thing about blogging is all of the friends that you make. Besides those folks, do you think your blog has fans?


15. What’s your current obsession? What about it captures your imagination?

Everything. Politics, I suppose.

16. What are you glad you did but haven’t really had a chance to post about?

I will, eventually. Or not.

17. How many people that first became a blog friend, have you met face to face?

One – Gordon.

18. What don’t you talk about here, either because it’s too personal or because you don’t have the energy?

Any number of TMI moments.

19. What’s a question that you’d love to answer?

I’m going to make you guess at that.

20. Have you ever lost a blogging friendship and regretted it?

No. I think, like other friends, people come and go in your life.

21. Have you ever lost a blogging friendship and thought, “Was that overdue!”

Most of the references to the death of the BeeGees’ Robin Gibb notes the brothers’ disco period, and especially the Saturday Night Fever, understandable given its sales and popularity. But the first song of theirs I heard was New York Mining Disaster 1941, and I for one was listening to them before Stayin’ Alive.

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