Farewell to Robin Gibb

Sunni's picture

I imagine nearly everyone who’d bothered to look at or listen to a news report yesterday knows that Robin Gibb died.

Even though I’d read news reports of his recent health challenges, I’m still having a hard time finding words to express my feelings. I can’t in all honesty say that I loved a person whom I never met and who never knew I existed, but of the trio of brothers whose music meant so much to me, it was Robin who captured my interest.

When I first started listening to the Bee Gees, the only “disco” album they’d put out was Main Course, with Jive Talkin’ being the huge hit that introduced me to their music—and in truth, none of the other songs on that album are close to Jive Talkin’. It is therefore fair to say that at that time, what was to become was a nascent glimmer on a horizon. That song sent me on a quest to find their extant corpus, and while I didn’t find everything, I found enough to become enchanted. The tight harmonies between the three brothers could deftly pluck each heartstring as desired—at least for me, then a highly susceptible teenage girl—and the variation in musical subjects as well as their treatment captured my intellectual interest. I have since learned that some critics have labeled their more quirky songs (for lack of a better way to put it: find Odessa if you want to hear an excellent example) “progressive pop” or “psychedelic pop”. I cared not a jot for labels back then: all I knew was I was completely hooked. The words, the themes, the lush, rich vocals, and the careful instrumentation set a standard of musicianship for me without my being explicitly aware of it.

Not knowing who was who back then, I later learned that it was Robin’s voice I enjoyed most. He didn’t need to rely on a falsetto to reach lovely, rich high notes, unlike his older brother Barry; moreover, his voice was interesting. More often than not, the songs I like best from their pre-disco works are those that feature Robin as lead singer—a position that eventually became Barry’s alone when the Bee Gees became a disco juggernaut.

Even as a mooning teenager, I didn’t tread the path of fanatical fandom. I never joined the snail-mail fan clubs that were advertised on several albums; nor did I create Google alerts or join any online fan communities when the Internet expanded to offer nearly everything one might want. I was content with their music; and I especially liked returning to the Bee Gees’ earliest music, so that I could hear Robin’s rich quaver out in front.

Robin was involved in making music almost to the last. I look forward to hearing it someday ... but for now I will return to that rich quaver and enjoy it a little more, knowing that his suffering has ceased.