On 11 February 2019 I set myself the challenging of reading 1001 Songs You Must Hear Before You Die by Robert Dimery (ed.) and following the book’s advice to the letter. I’ve previously read 1001 Films… and started 1001 Albums… but felt 1001 Songs… would be a sensible place to start for what I have in mind here.
My challenge is to read about one song per day and listen to it (YouTube and Spotify, I need you tonight!) before sharing my own thoughts. Some songs I will love, others I’ll hate, and I’m sure there will be those that leave me perplexed but listen to them I shall.
I’ll also try, and most likely fail, to pinpoint the best song from the 1001 on offer but I’m nothing if not foolhardy. Instead of one song, I’m predicting I’ll have about 100 favourites by the end and may have to resort to a Top 10 so far to maintain any semblance of sanity.
So long as I post everyday (including Christmas) then this challenge should come to an end on Wednesday 8 November 2021. Staying with the Barney Stinson theme I am hoping that the whole experience will prove to be…
Bee Gees – Jive Talkin’ (1975)
We’re leaving the US behind, dear reader, so we can cross the Atlantic to the UK. In the Irish Sea is the Isle of Man where our artists today were originally from. The Bee Gees were comprised of brothers – Barry, Robin and Maurice – and first formed in 1958. After living in the UK for many years, the brothers moved to Australia where their music career first began to take off. They later returned to the UK to try and broaden their appeal across the globe. When we join the Bee Gees in 1975, they’ve already enjoyed some success, split up, reformed, but now found themselves without a big hit in the US for four years. 1001 Songs has gone with what became a comeback of sorts for the group at this time – Jive Talkin’.
Jive Talkin’ was written by the three brothers and originally began life as Drive Talkin’. While working on the track the story goes that Barry started singing, “Jive Talkin’” instead, thinking of the dance. The brothers’ producer, Arif Marding, informed them that the expression, “jive talkin’” was actually a black expression that meant bullshit. The meaning stuck, the song was reworked and instead of a piece concerning dancing or even driving, we have one about deception and deceit. The narrator is addressing an unnamed person but one they describe as a lover. The problem is this person is guilty of the jive talkin’ of the song’s title and it’s having a damaging impact on our narrator. They recognise this person is no good for them but yet they still seem drawn to them despite being treated cruelly. It sounds hard to break free, despite all those lies.
The Bee Gees are remembered today as hit makers both for themselves but also in penning chart toppers for other artists as well. Jive Talkin’ finds the trio at the dawn of their transition into disco music, probably their peak years of success in the 1970s, especially with their later work on the soundtrack to the Saturday Night Fever album in 1977. Jive Talkin’ is a decent enough track and its back story is certainly interesting. It’s not the best the Bee Gees had to offer but it was a big success all the same upon release and put them back in the spotlight. The deaths of Maurice in 2003 and Robin in 2012, ended decades of success for the brother with only Barry now remaining to continue the rich legacy he shared with his brothers.
Favourite songs so far:
The Animals – House of the Rising Sun (1964)
Simon & Garfunkel – The Sounds of Silence (1965)
The Doors – The End (1967)
The Beatles – A Day in the Life (1967)
Derek & The Dominos – Layla (1970)
David Bowie – Life on Mars? (1971)
Rod Stewart – Maggie May (1971)
Stevie Wonder – Living for the City (1973)
Patti Smith Group – Piss Factory (1974)
Sparks – This Town Ain’t Big Enough for the Both of Us (1974)