Playlist #11 in the Life during quarantine series has Nick Triani contemplating a return to social interaction and his growing appreciation of the Bee Gees.
We are not there yet
Another week, another easing. Finland has to take some credit for the effectiveness of its Covid-19 dealings this far. The truth of the matter will come in the coming weeks where larger crowds mingle, borders open and people go back to their old ways. In my heart of hearts a touch of sadness mixes with relief at the thought of the end of lockdown. I’m comfortable with this disciplined isolation we’ve had thrust upon us. Although I miss my colleagues and the energy a thriving, creative office can bring, the social implications of mixing with people outside of my immediate family feels daunting. Of course, there are bigger issues at this time than my social rehabilitation.
As Black Lives Matters protests continue to rage around the globe and those statues that represent historical oppression continue to topple, I’ve considered my own experience of racism as a brown son of immigrants. I’m just tired of it all – I have no reasonable comment left to give, as I’ve literally spent my whole existence negotiating those safe spaces and no-go areas, those ignorant comments and poor attitudes – that pure hatred. It wears you out and I feel so tired having to explain all the time. I choose to move on and I know my privilege allows me that right.
How deep is your love?
In the unequivocal rush to analyse, reevaluate and canonize so much popular music, I always feel one band is missing from that particular discussion. If I told you that according to Wiki “Only Elvis Presley, The Beatles, Michael Jackson, Garth Brooks and Paul McCartney have outsold the Bee Gees“ you would probably be surprised. So, why aren’t we discussing the Bee Gees more than we are? Why are they not as credible as other artists?
If we dig deeper into the Bee Gees ouvre, not only do we find songwriting at the top end of the art, but we find a band that display steady progression as creative artists through their album catalog. You could surmise and be making a valid point that their ultimate masterpiece and peak was most evident with the soundtrack to Saturday Night Fever. Yet their earlier albums from the 1960s onwards contain many a future standard; ‘To Love Somebody’, ‘Got To Get A Message To You’, ‘How Do You Mend A Broken Heart?’ and ‘Massachusetts’. Serious and hot songwriting chops.
My favourite album from that early period is 1968’s Odessa. It has a growing reputation and certainly displays some of the experimentation of that time amongst all the strong song craft. There is a serious nod to The Beatles throughout early Bee Gees, but the Gibb brother’s upper register vocal and canny use of falsetto, such a distinctive and original sound, is already fully formed on Odessa. This week’s playlist starts with the album’s first cut, ‘Odessa (City on the Black Sea)’, which not only manages to name check Finland, but sets the tone for the whole record. It’s a deep and rich song, yet still finds time for beauty and mystery in it’s seven minutes. Start here then dig deeper.
Nick Triani is an editor and contributor to One Quart Magazine