Bee Gees tune makes my hypothetical band’s playlist

Last night, I was watching an episode of “The Americans” and it ended with a song in the background that was a pleasant-enough-sounding ballad, but for one thing: It seemed to be very close to something very familiar, and something that I wanted to hear, but it never got there. It was too busy being artsy, too free-form, too showy in its refusal to be anything like the original.

I now know it was Roberta Flack’s version of “To Love Somebody.” It was pleasant, but considered as a cover of that song, it was awful. It left out all the best bits, such as the change when it launches into “you don’t know what it’s like,” and then when it takes it down a notch, for “to love somebody.”

Everything that made the song special was missing, including the appealing rhythm of the verses, in between the aforementioned best bits.

Frankly, I hadn’t ever realized how special the song was, until it had been stripped of what made it that way.

So I’m unilaterally adding it to the playlist for my band, for when I have a band. I’m not consulting my bandmates on it, because I don’t have any, and it wouldn’t do to start having artistic differences before we even get together.

I’m even thinking of going out on a limb and adding “I’ve Gotta Get a Message to You,” because I’ve always known that was great, even though it was by the Bee Gees. After all, the Brothers Gibb were pretty good before disco (he said defensively).

This is coming together well. Before long, I’ll have a complete playlist for my ultimate cover band, and that will give us a head start when I get around to actually putting the band together. Don’t you think?

12 thoughts on “Bee Gees tune makes my hypothetical band’s playlist

  1. Brad Warthen Post author

    If you’ll forgive me for saying something nice about Michael Bublé, at least his version of the song is reasonably faithful to the original. It keeps the musical devices that make the song work. Just don’t look at him, and ignore the occasionally over-precise, pedantic-sounding diction. Then it’s not too bad.

    I mean, it’s totally lacking in soul — which one can’t say about Roberta Flack — but it’s respectful to the song’s fundamentals…

      1. scout

        I do too! At least, that one song I know – I just haven’t met you yet. The over precise diction seems to work in it.

  2. Kathryn Fenner

    The BeeGees are very much the sound of that moment, though. I find it hard to think of any artist(s) who more defined the sounds in the background of my college and law school years. I am not a fan of falsetto in music composed after 1750, but the BeeGees defined that moment.

    1. Kathryn Fenner

      Justin Trousersnake has tons o’talent, too.

      Madonna kinda whiffed it, though.

  3. Norm Ivey

    I like both of these songs, but “Message” is the better one. How do you make a pop song out of a death row watch? Awesome. The BeeGees did some heartfelt stuff that went beyond love songs (New York Mining Disaster and Words) in addition to the two you mentioned. They don’t write ’em like that anymore.

  4. bud

    ignore the occasionally over-precise, pedantic-sounding diction.

    I liked the original better also, and now I know why. Who knew that Michael Buble used “over-precise, pedantic-sounding diction. (Nice use of double-hyphenated words in the same sentence).

  5. CJWatson

    My sisters used to play the the Brothers Gibb all day and night, so sorry I can’t like any of their stuff. They also used to play the Bay City Rollers… And now my daughter loves One Direction (Pro tip…it’s the same stuff.)

    My playlist would include (I’d suggest you add these, but that would be presumptuous):

    John Hiatt’s Perfectly Good Guitar

    Paul Simon’s Red Rubber Ball (as like Cyrcle).

    My band name might be Extraordinary Mediocrity

  6. Kathryn Fenner

    My friend’s mother thought the song was Bald-headed Woman. No one could accuse the BeeGees of over-precise, pedantic-sounding diction.

Comments are closed.